ragged edge magazine online



Issue 1


What it does, what it should do



Social Security: An explanatory table

This table developed by Harriet McBryde Johnson.


Title II (RSDI)

Programs: Old-age retirement, survivors and disability insurance (SSDI).

Eligibility: Age or disability plus history of working and paying FICA tax.

Basic policy goal: To protect family income when wage earner retires, dies or becomes unable to work

Beneficiaries: Disabled/retired wage earner and certain dependents and survivors, including disabled adult child, disabled widow/er

Benefit amounts based on: wage earner's history of paying into FICA system

Maximum monthly benefit (as of Jan. 01): $1,536 individual

Linked medical coverage: Medicare (29-month wait after disability to be covered) copays & deductibles, no drug coverage, no long-term (PCA) coverage

Disability defined as: "Severe physical or mental impairment (or combination) that makes the individual unable to perform "substantial gainful activity"

"Substantial Gainful Activity" (SGA) presumed.... If earning $700 per month or more in employment

Unearned income... Except for worker's comp, does not reduce benefits

Earnings from work... Do not reduce benefits, until SGA is reached; then benefits eventually stop

Resources (wealth) have no effect on benefits -- millionaires may bet monthly checks and Medicare

Title XVI (SSI)

Programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for disabled and elderly

Eligibility: Age or disability plus extreme poverty

Basic policy goal: To help one category of the "deserving poor"

Beneficiaries: Disabled or elderly poor person (no family benefits provided)

Benefit amounts based on: amount of individual and household income

Maximum monthly benefit (as of Jan. 01) $530 individual

Linked medical coverage Medicaid (no waiting period before coverage); full payment for approved charges/providers; 3 Rx/month, long-term (PCA) services

Disability defined Same


"Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) presumed.... Same (for eligibility purposes)

Unearned income... After small exclusion, reduces benefits, dollar for dollar

Earnings from work... After small exclusion, reduces benefits fifty cents for each dollar earned

Resources (wealth): With some exclusions (mainly home equity), if you have resources worth more than $2,000, you lose SSI and Medicaid

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