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Purposes of Social Security

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

100. Purposes of Social Security

100.1 What are the purposes of Social Security?

The Social Security Act and related laws establish a number of programs that have the following basic purposes:

  1. To provide for the material needs of individuals and families;

  2. To protect aged and disabled persons against the expenses of illnesses that may otherwise use up their savings;

  3. To keep families together; and

  4. To give children the chance to grow up healthy and secure.

100.2 What programs are included under the Social Security Act and related laws?

The following programs are included:

  1. Retirement insurance;

  2. Survivors insurance;

  3. Disability insurance;

  4. Hospital and medical insurance for the aged, the disabled, and those with end-stage renal disease;

  5. Prescription Drug Benefit

  6. Extra help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs

  7. Supplemental security income;

  8. Special Veterans Benefits;

  9. Unemployment insurance; and

  10. Public assistance and welfare services, including:

    1. Temporary assistance for needy families;

    2. Medical assistance;

    3. Maternal and child health services;

    4. Child support enforcement;

    5. Family and child welfare services;

    6. Food stamps; and

    7. Energy assistance.

Last Revised: Apr. 18, 2006

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