Can You Pass This Quiz About Social Security and Medicare?

Thursday, 18 February 2016 10: 26
Written by Joni B. Bailey

Social Security DisabilityQuestions:

  1. Who was the president and what was the year that the Social Security Act was enacted?
  2. What party resisted the Social Security Act, and what was the argument against it?
  3. When were monthly Social Security benefits first released to workers who qualified?
  4. Who was the president and what was the year that the Medicare health insurance program was established?
  5. Did Democrats or Republicans pass the law that established Medicare?
  6. What recent president promoted the idea of privatizing Social Security and Medicare through a personal savings and investment approach?
  7. How much did a typical couple who retired in 2012 contribute to the Social Security and Medicare fund compared to how much they will receive in benefits?
  8. Does a high wage earner receive as much for each dollar of taxed earnings as a lower wage earner?
  9. How much do you have to earn in your lifetime to receive retirement benefits?
  10. Are all earnings treated the same for calculation of retirement benefits?


  1. The Social Security Act became law on August 14, 1935, when President Roosevelt signed H.R. 7260. P.L. 271-74th Congress.
  2. “When the Act was debated in Congress, prominent Republicans in the House and Senate made attempts to delete the provisions creating the old-age pension system. They said they preferred to rely solely on the assistance (charity/welfare) approach to help the aged. They argued that the payroll tax/insurance mechanism of the old-age benefits provisions might be unconstitutional and that it would impose a heavy tax burden on businesses that would retard economic development.”  See Major Decisions in the House and Senate on Social Security: 1935-2000.
  3. January 1, 1940. (Moved back from the original proposed start date of January 1, 1942.)
  4. H.R. 6675, the Social Security Amendments of 1965, was signed into law on July 30, 1965, by President Johnson.
  5. On April 8, 1965, the House passed H.R. 6675 by a vote of 313 (65-R, 248-D) to 115 (73-R, 42-D). H.R. 6675 was passed by the Senate on July 9, 1965, by a vote of 68 (13-R, 55-D) to 21 (14-R, 7-D).
  6. President George W. Bush. For more information, see CRS Report RL33544, Social Security Reform: Current Issues and Legislation. Social Security Reform:  Current Issues and Legislation, by Dawn
  7. “a two-earner couple receiving an average wage — $44,600 per spouse in 2012 dollars — and turning 65 in 2010 would have paid $722,000 into Social Security and Medicare and can be expected to take out $966,000 in benefits. So, this couple will be paid about one-third more in benefits than they paid in taxes.”
  8. No.  Wage earners in the lower brackets receive nearly 3 times as much in monthly benefits for each dollar of average indexed monthly earnings as those in the higher brackets and 6 times as much as those in the highest brackets. See Page 9, CRS Report R42035, Social Security Primer, by Dawn Nuschler.
  9. You need 40 earnings credits (10 years of Social Security-covered employment) to be eligible for a Social Security retirement benefits. You may earn up to four earnings credits per calendar year. In 2016, you earn one credit for each $1,260 of covered earnings, up to a maximum of four credits for covered earnings of $5,040 or more. Earnings credits are also called quarters of coverage.
  10. No.  Only your highest 35 years of earnings are counted; earnings after age 60 are not indexed (increased) to historical wage growth; and earnings before age 60 are indexed. As explained in The Social Security Primer published by Congressional Research Service, “A worker’s initial monthly benefit is based on his or her highest 35 years of earnings in covered employment, which are indexed to historical wage growth (earnings through age 60 are indexed; earnings thereafter are counted at nominal value). The highest 35 years of indexed earnings are summed, and the total is divided by 420 months (35 years x 12 months = 420 months). The resulting amount is the worker’s average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). If a worker has fewer than 35 years of earnings in covered employment, years with no earnings are entered as zeroes in the computation, resulting in a lower AIME and therefore a lower monthly benefit.” The AIME is then multiplied by three progressive replacement factors. Using the factors and earnings brackets for 2016 as an illustration, the PIA would be 90% of the AIME up to $856.00, 32% of the AIME between $856.00 and $5,157.00, and 15% of the AIME over $5,157.00. See  and pages 8, 9 in CRS Report R42035, Social Security Primer, by Dawn Nuschler.


Further reading:  Be an Active Member of Your Healthcare and Legal Teams

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