Employee Benefits Required by Law
The legally required employee benefits constitute nearly a quarter of the benefits package that employers provide. These benefits include employer contributions to Social Security, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance. Altogether such benefits represent about twenty-one and half percent of payroll costs.
Social Security is the federally administered insurance system. Under current federal laws, both employer and employee must pay into the system, and a certain percentage of the employee’s salary is paid up to a maximum limit. Social Security is mandatory for employees and employers. The most noteworthy exceptions are state and local government employees.
The Social Security Act was passed in 1935. It provides an insurance plan designed to indemnify covered individuals against loss of earnings resulting from various causes. This loss of earnings may result from retirement, unemployment, disability, or the case of dependents, the death of the person supporting them. Social Security does not pay off except in the case where a loss of income through loss of employment actually is incurred. In order to be eligible for old age and survivors insurance (OASI) as well as disability and unemployment insurance under the Social Security Act, an individual must have been engaged in employment covered by the Act. Most employment in private enterprise, most types of self-employment, active military service after 1956 and employment in certain nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies are subject to coverage under the Act. Railroad workers and United States civil service employees who are covered by their own systems and some occupational groups, under certain conditions, are exempted form the Act. The Social Security Program is supported by means of a tax levied against an employee’s earnings which must be matched buy the employer. Self-employed persons are required to pay a tax on their earnings at a rate, which is higher than that paid by employees but less than the combined rates paid by employees and their employers.
In order to receive old age insurance benefits, a person must have reached retirement age and be fully insured. A full-insured person is one who must have earned at least $50 in a quarter for a period of 40 quarters. It is possible for an individual who dies or becomes totally disabled at an early age to be classified as fully insured with less than 40 quarters. To receive old age insurance benefits, covered individuals must also meet the test of retirement. To meet this test, persons under 70 cannot be earning more than an established amount through gainful employment. This limitation of earnings does not include income from sources other than gainful employment such as investments or pensions. Social...