Social Security

In the United States, a Social Security number (or SSN) is a number issued to citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents under section 205(c)(2) of the Social Security Act, codified as 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2). The number is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, an agency of the federal government. Ostensibly, its primary purpose is tracking working individuals for taxation purposes and to track Social Security benefits. However, in recent years, the SSN has become a de facto national identification number, even though it is not supposed to be used as a form of identification.


Contrary to popular belief, there is still no law directly requiring a natural born US Citizen to apply for a Social Security number to live or work in the United States. Although a handful of people still live this way, it is becoming ever increasingly difficult to engage in normal acts of commerce or banking activities without providing one. Such prohibitions against persons that refuse to enter into what amounts to a voluntary government program, raises a variety of constitutional concerns.

  • Social Security Disability refers to the social effects of physical or mental impairment.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance is a payroll tax-funded, federal insurance program. Its purpose is to provide income to people unable to work because of a disability.

Here is a more detailed explanation of Social Security’s five-step process to determine if an individual qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance:

  • Simply determines if an individual is “working (engaging in substantial gainful activity)” according to the SSA definition. Earning more than $860 a month as an employee is enough to be disqualified from receiving Social Security disability benefits.
  • Implies that the disability must be severe enough to significantly limit one’s ability to perform basic work activities needed to do most jobs. For example: walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying or handling seeing, hearing and speaking understanding/carrying out and remembering simple instructions use of judgment responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work situations dealing with changes in a routine work setting
  • Ask if the disability meets or equals a medical listing.
  • Explores the ability of an individual to perform work he has done in the past despite his disability. If SSA finds that a person can do his past work, benefits are denied. If the person cannot, then the process proceeds to the fifth and final step.
  • Looks at age, education, work experience and physical/mental condition to determine what other work, if any, the person can perform. To determine disability, SSA enlists vocational rules, which vary according to age.