digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















This article is about the general concept of social well being and systems that ensure this. For specific systems named "Social Security" and other uses, see Social Security.
The promotional U.S. Social Security card distributed as an example card in wallets distributed by the F.W. Woolworth Company

Social Security is based upon a concept set forth in Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states, Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality. In simple terms, the signatories agree that society in which a person lives should help them to develop and to make the most of all the advantages (culture, work, social welfare) which are offered to them in the country.[1]

Social Security may also refer to the action programs of government intended to promote the welfare of the population through assistance measures guaranteeing access to sufficient resources for food and shelter and to promote health and well-being for the population at large and potentially vulnerable segments such as children, the elderly, the sick and the unemployed. Services providing social security are often called social services.

Terminology in this area in the United States is somewhat different from in the rest of the English-speaking world. The general term for an action program in support of the well being of the population in the United States is welfare program and the general term for all such programs is simply welfare. In American society, the term welfare arguably has negative connotations. The term Social Security, in the United States, refers to a specific social insurance program for the retired and the disabled. Elsewhere the term is used in a much broader sense, referring to the economic security society offers when people are faced with certain risks. In its 1952 Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention (nr. 102), the International Labour Organization defined the traditional contingencies covered by social security as follows:

  • Survival beyond a prescribed age, to be covered by old age pensions;
  • The loss of support suffered by a widow or child as the result of the death of the breadwinner (survivor’s benefit);
  • Responsibility for the maintenance of children (family benefit);
  • The treatment of any morbid condition (including pregnancy), whatever its cause (medical care);
  • A suspension of earnings due to pregnancy and confinement and their consequences (maternity benefit);
  • A suspension of earnings due to an inability to obtain suitable employment for protected persons who are capable of, and available for, work (unemployment benefit);
  • A suspension of earnings due to an incapacity for work resulting from a morbid condition (sickness leave benefit);
  • A permanent or persistent inability to engage in any gainful activity (disability benefit);
  • The costs and losses involved in medical care, sickness leave, invalidity and death of the breadwinner due to an occupational accident or disease (employment injuries).

People who cannot reach a guaranteed social minimum for other reasons may be eligible for social assistance (or welfare, in American English).

Modern authors often consider the ILO approach too narrow. In their view social security is not limited to the provision of cash transfers, but also aims at security of work, health, and social participation; and new social risks (single parenthood, the reconciliation of work and family life) should be included in the list as well.[2]

Social security may refer to:

  • social insurance, where people receive benefits or services in recognition of contributions to an insurance program. These services typically include provision for retirement pensions, disability insurance, survivor benefits and unemployment insurance.
  • services provided by government or designated agencies responsible for social security provision. In different countries, that may include medical care, financial support during unemployment, sickness, or retirement, health and safety at work, aspects of social work and even industrial relations.
  • basic security irrespective of participation in specific insurance programs where eligibility may otherwise be an issue. For instance, assistance given to newly arrived refugees for basic necessities such as food, clothing, housing, education, money, and medical care.

A report published by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2014 estimated that only 27% of the world’s population has access to comprehensive social security.[3]


While several of the provisions to which the concept refers have a long history (especially in poor relief), the notion of ‘social security’ itself is a fairly recent one. The earliest examples of use date from the 19th century. In a speech to mark the independence of Venezuela, Simón Bolívar (1819) pronounced that: “El sistema de gobierno más perfecto es aquel que produce mayor suma de felicidad posible, mayor suma de seguridad social y mayor suma de estabilidad política”.[4] Which translates as “The most perfect system of government is that which produces the greatest amount of happiness, the greatest amount of social security and greater amount of political stability”.

In the Roman Empire, social welfare to help the poor was enlarged by the Emperor Trajan.[5] Trajan's program brought acclaim from many, including Pliny the Younger.[6]

In Jewish tradition, charity (represented by tzedakah) is a matter of religious obligation rather than benevolence. Contemporary charity is regarded as a continuation of the Biblical Maaser Ani, or poor-tithe, as well as Biblical practices, such as permitting the poor to glean the corners of a field and harvest during the Shmita (Sabbatical year). Voluntary charity, along with prayer and repentance, is befriended to ameliorate the consequences of bad acts.

Distributing alms to the poor, abbey of Port-Royal des Champs c. 1710

The Song dynasty (c.1000AD) government supported multiple forms of social assistance programs, including the establishment of retirement homes, public clinics, and pauper's graveyards[7]

According to Robert Henry Nelson, "The medieval Roman Catholic Church operated a far-reaching and comprehensive welfare system for the poor..."[8][9]

The concepts of welfare and pension were put into practice in the early Islamic law[10][not in citation given] of the Caliphate as forms of Zakat (charity), one of the Five Pillars of Islam, since the time of the Rashidun caliph Umar in the 7th century. The taxes (including Zakat and Jizya) collected in the treasury of an Islamic government were used to provide income for the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. According to the Islamic jurist Al-Ghazali (Algazel, 1058–1111), the government was also expected to store up food supplies in every region in case a disaster or famine occurred.[10][11] (See Bayt al-mal for further information.)

There is relatively little statistical data on transfer payments before the High Middle Ages. In the medieval period and until the Industrial Revolution, the function of welfare payments in Europe was principally achieved through private giving or charity. In those early times, there was a much broader group considered to be in poverty as compared to the 21st century.

Early welfare programs in Europe included the English Poor Law of 1601, which gave parishes the responsibility for providing poverty relief assistance to the poor.[12] This system was substantially modified by the 19th-century Poor Law Amendment Act, which introduced the system of workhouses.

It was predominantly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that an organized system of state welfare provision was introduced in many countries. Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of Germany, introduced one of the first welfare systems for the working classes in 1883. In Great Britain the Liberal government of Henry Campbell-Bannerman and David Lloyd George introduced the National Insurance system in 1911,[13] a system later expanded by Clement Attlee. The United States did not have an organized welfare system until the Great Depression, when emergency relief measures were introduced under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Even then, Roosevelt's New Deal focused predominantly on a program of providing work and stimulating the economy through public spending on projects, rather than on cash payment.

Over many thousands of years the stronger (economically or physically) used to defeat/eliminate the weaker, nowadays, no matter what we call the reason for this decision – within Catholic social teaching (or other religion), social solidarism, and sustainable growth – the stronger helps the weaker. This aid may take the form of in-kind or material, refer to the present or the future. ‘The Stronger’, which can be depending on the method of social security, individual people, regions, nations or institutions, are to offer real help and not, as demonstrated by the frequent experience – strive for the elimination or annihilation of another entity.[14]

For years the number of social benefits offered has increased and their scope has been adjusted to citizens’ expectations as well as to the ideas of social solidarism originating also from the teachings of the Catholic Church.[15]

Income maintenance[edit]

Main article: Unemployment benefits

This policy is usually applied through various programs designed to provide a population with income at times when they are unable to care for themselves. Income maintenance is based in a combination of five main types of program:

  • Social insurance, considered above
  • Means-tested benefits, financial assistance provided for those who are unable to cover basic needs, such as food, clothing and housing, due to poverty or lack of income because of unemployment, sickness, disability, or caring for children. While assistance is often in the form of financial payments, those eligible for social welfare can usually access health and educational services free of charge. The amount of support is enough to cover basic needs and eligibility is often subject to a comprehensive and complex assessment of an applicant's social and financial situation. See also Income Support.
  • Non-contributory benefits. Several countries have special schemes, administered with no requirement for contributions and no means test, for people in certain categories of need: for example, veterans of armed forces, people with disabilities and very old people.
  • Discretionary benefits. Some schemes are based on the discretion of an official, such as a social worker.
  • Universal or categorical benefits, also known as demogrants. These are non-contributory benefits given for whole sections of the population without a means test, such as family allowances or the public pension in New Zealand (known as New Zealand Superannuation). See also, Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend.

Social protection[edit]

Social protection refers to a set of benefits available (or not available) from the state, market, civil society and households, or through a combination of these agencies, to the individual/households to reduce multi-dimensional deprivation. This multi-dimensional deprivation could be affecting less active poor persons (such as the elderly or the disabled) and active poor persons (such as the unemployed).

This broad framework makes this concept more acceptable in developing countries than the concept of social security. Social security is more applicable in the conditions, where large numbers of citizens depend on the formal economy for their livelihood. Through a defined contribution, this social security may be managed.

But, in the context of widespread informal economy, formal social security arrangements are almost absent for the vast majority of the working population. Besides, in developing countries, the state's capacity to reach the vast majority of the poor people may be limited because of its limited resources. In such a context, multiple agencies that could provide for social protection is important for policy consideration. The framework of social protection is thus capable of holding the state responsible to provide for the poorest sections by regulating non-state agencies.

Collaborative research from the Institute of Development Studies debating Social Protection from a global perspective, suggests that advocates for social protection fall into two broad categories: 'instrumentalists' and 'activists'. 'Instrumentalists' argue that extreme poverty, inequality and vulnerability, is dysfunctional in the achievement of development targets (such as the MDGs). In this view social protection is about putting in place risk management mechanisms that will compensate for incomplete or missing insurance (and other) markets, until a time that private insurance can play a more prominent role in that society. 'Activist' arguments view the persistence of extreme poverty, inequality and vulnerability, as symptoms of social injustice and structural inequality and see social protection as a right of citizenship. Targeted welfare is a necessary step between humanitarianism and the ideal of a 'guaranteed social minimum' where entitlement extends beyond cash or food transfers and is based on citizenship, not philanthropy.[16]

National and regional systems[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Plain language version. United Nations. Retrieved 20 April 2012. "Art 22. "22 The society in which you live should help you to develop and to make the most of all the advantages (culture, work, social welfare) which are offered to you and to all the men and women in your country."" 
  2. ^ See for a more elaborate discussion: J.C. Vrooman (2009). Rules of Relief; Institutions of Social Security, and Their Impact. Transaction Publishers (The Netherlands Institute for Social Research). pp. 111–126.  ISBN 978-90-377-0218-7
  3. ^ http://ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_244748/lang--en/index.htm
  4. ^ http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/EE_CO523.pdf
  5. ^ Britannica.com
  6. ^ PBS.org
  7. ^ Song Dynasty
  8. ^ Robert Henry Nelson (2001). "Economics as religion: from Samuelson to Chicago and beyond". Penn State Press. p.103. ISBN 0-271-02095-4
  9. ^ "Chapter1: Charity and Welfare", the American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain.
  10. ^ a b Crone, Patricia (2005). Medieval Islamic Political Thought. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 308–9. ISBN 0-7486-2194-6. 
  11. ^ Shadi Hamid (August 2003). "An Islamic Alternative? Equality, Redistributive Justice, and the Welfare State in the Caliphate of Umar". Renaissance: Monthly Islamic Journal 13 (8).  (see online)
  12. ^ The Poor Laws of England at EH.Net
  13. ^ Liberal Reforms at BBC Bitesize
  14. ^ S. Adamiak, D. Walczak, Catholic social teaching, sustainable development and social solidarism in the context of social security, Copernican Journal of Finance & Accounting, Vol 3, No 1, p. 17.
  15. ^ S. Adamiak, E. Chojnacka, D. Walczak, Social security in Poland – cultural, historical and economical issues, Copernican Journal of Finance & Accounting, Vol 2, No 2, p. 24.
  16. ^ 'Debating Social Protection' Devereux, S and Sabates-Wheeler, R. (2007) IDS Bulletin 38 .3, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies

Further reading[edit]

  • Modigliani, Franco. Rethinking pension reform / Franco Modigliani, Arun Muralidhar. Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • Muralidhar, Arun S. Innovations in pension fund management / Arun S. Muralidhar. Stanford, Calif.; [Great Britain] : Stanford Economics + Finance, c2001.
  • "The Three Pillars of Wisdom? A Reader on Globalization, World Bank Pension Models and Welfare Society" (Arno Tausch, Editor). Nova Science Hauppauge, New York, 2003
  • Amazon.com, "When the Public Works: Generating Employment and Social Protection in Ethiopia" Peter Middlebrook, Lambert Academic Publishing. 2009. ISBN 978-3-8383-0672-8
  • 'Reforming European Pension Systems' (Arun Muralidhar and Serge Allegreza (eds.)), Amsterdam, NL and West Lafayette, Indiana, USA: Dutch University Press, Rozenberg Publishers and Purdue University Press

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_security — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
1000000 videos foundNext > 

Top 10 Must Know Facts About Your Social Security Benefits

Is the Social Security system really broke? How long can the Social Security Administration continue to keep paying on all of their promises? When will the S...

Social Security: Just the Facts

You may have heard we can't afford Social Security. But the facts may surprise you. This video from the National Academy of Social Insurance (www.nasi.org) e...

Planning Social Security Retirement? We use Social Security Calculator to get maximum benefits.

Are you getting ready to begin your Social Security Benefits? Are you uncertain which filing strategy will get you the maximum Social Security Benefits? A Ma...

Social Security Intro

Basics on how social security works More free lessons at: http://www.khanacademy.org/video?v=gLHUCUv1e5Y.

How Severe Are Problems With Social Security?

Social Security checks go out on Wednesday to more than 52 million Americans, but the viability of the program has recently taken center stage in the GOP pre...

Elizabeth Warren Nails It On Social Security

"Add Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to the growing chorus of voicescalling for the expansion of Social Security benefits. The progressive favorite implored Dem...

Social Security vs. Private Retirement

Is Social Security a good retirement plan? Economics professor Antony Davies shows that Americans stand to earn significantly less and assume more risk with ...

How to Maximize Social Security Benefits

Kiplinger's retirement experts discuss several ways for retirees to get the most out of their Social Security checks, including the file-and-suspend strategy...

5-30-14 social security office drama

Security guards and manager take it to serious at social security office in Washington, D.C..

The Correct Way To Use a Social Security Card Part I

The Correct Way to Use a Social Security Card. A Freeman Gives the Social Security Administration Notice A call made to find out who's social security number...

1000000 videos foundNext > 

2306046 news items


Sat, 30 Aug 2014 22:37:30 -0700

Social Security may be your largest or one of your largest assets. How you manage it, by deciding which benefits to collect and when, can make an absolutely huge difference to your lifetime benefits. And those with the highest past covered earnings ...
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 05:47:04 -0700

Social Security may be your largest or one of your largest assets. How you manage it, by deciding which benefits to collect and when, can make an absolutely huge difference to your lifetime benefits. And those with the highest past covered earnings ...

Sky Valley Chronicle

CBS Local
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:17:22 -0700

(CBS) — Thousands of Social Security beneficiaries have become victims of identity thieves who have hacked into their accounts and stolen millions of dollars in desperately needed benefits. 69-year-old Carole Folkes is one of them. For seven years her ...

Kansas City Star

Thu, 28 Aug 2014 21:12:02 -0700

Social Security may be your largest or one of your largest assets. How you manage it, by deciding which benefits to collect and when, can make an absolutely huge difference to your lifetime benefits. And those with the highest past covered earnings ...
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:00:00 -0700

Nearly 1,100 Vermont residents have been notified that their Social Security numbers could be in the hands of Chinese hackers behind one of the largest raids on American electronic medical records. "You are receiving this letter because some of your ...


Sun, 24 Aug 2014 09:33:13 -0700

What's surprised Cohen lately is the increasing number of gray-haired people walking in his doors with a problem: A portion of their meager Social Security benefits are being taken by the government to pay for old student loans they had mostly ...
Motley Fool
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 06:01:14 -0700

In the video, Jean advises using Social Security as a supplement to your retirement income -- not the sole source. She explains that if you make it 30% to 40% of your total income, you'll be using Social Security benefits more or less in the manner ...
Motley Fool
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 06:00:34 -0700

Social Security, the program designed to prevent financial hardship by supplying qualified individuals with monthly income, may seem like an easy concept on paper, but the details of who receives Social Security benefits and where those dollars go isn ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Social security

You can talk about Social security with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!