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By Brenda Brown

Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Fayetteville, NC

At first, seeing taxes taken out of your paycheck can be a little disappointing. However, you can

take pride in knowing you are making an important impact each week when you contribute to

Social Security. Understanding how important your contribution is takes some of the sting away

because your taxes are helping millions of Americans — and protecting you and your family for

life — as well as wounded warriors, the chronically ill, and disabled.

By law, employers must withhold Social Security taxes from a worker’s paycheck. While usually

referred to as “Social Security taxes” on an employee’s pay statement, sometimes the deduction

is labeled as “FICA” which stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act, a reference to the

original Social Security Act. In some cases, you will see “OASDI” which stands for Old Age

Survivors Disability Insurance.

The taxes you pay now translate to a lifetime of protection — for retirement in old age or in the

event of disability. And when you die, your family (or future family) may be able to receive

survivors benefits based on your work as well.

Because you may be a long way from retirement, you might have a tough time seeing the value

of benefit payments that could be many decades in the future. But keep in mind that the Social

Security taxes you’re paying can provide valuable disability or survivors benefits now in the

event the unexpected happens. Studies show that of today’s 20-year- olds, about one in four will

become disabled, and about one in eight will die, before reaching retirement.

Be warned: if an employer offers to pay you “under the table,” you should refuse. It is against the

law. They may try to sell it as a benefit to you since you get a few extra dollars in your pay. But

you’re really only allowing the employer to cheat you out of your Social Security credits.

If you’d like to learn a little more about Social Security and exactly what you’re building up for

yourself by paying Social Security taxes, take a look at our online booklet, How You Earn

Credits, at

If you have a friend who lost a parent when they were a child, they probably got Social Security

survivors benefits. Social Security helps by providing income for the families of workers who

die. In fact, 98 of every 100 children could get benefits if a working parent dies. And Social

Security pays more benefits to children than any other federal program.

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