social security benefits

Quick Reference

State payments designed to assure all residents of a country of minimum living standards. These benefits are typically provided to those over retirement age, and those unable to support themselves because of disability, illness, or inability to find work. The benefits cover the recipient and any dependants, especially children. Social security benefits may be paid for by contributions from workers or their employers, or by general taxation. National insurance schemes, such as that in the UK, are usually not actuarially solvent, and have to be subsidized from general taxation. Social security benefits may or may not be means tested, where the recipients have any private income or occupational pensions. See also means-tested benefits.

Subjects: Economics.

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