Learning about ... Social Security
     led by Peter W. Martin


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References for use throughout the course, in alternative downloadable formats

  • Martin on Social Security, 167 pages (rtf format) (pdf format)
  • Social Security Act, 177 pages (rtf format) (pdf format)
  • Social Security Regulations, Subpart D (the catalog of benefits), 53 pages (subpart D) (rtf format ) (pdf format)
    (While additional discrete portions of CFR are assigned readings for particular topics below, this subpart is uniquely important across multiple topics.)
  • Fast Facts and Figures (SSA 2007) 36 pages (pdf format) (alternative html version)

Assignments to these materials are marked with an asterisk below.

Topic 1: Overview of the Program -- Who receives benefits, under what circumstances. Relationship between payments in and benefits received. Key legal issues and the program's procedures for their resolution.

Topic 2: Program History -- Important stages in the program's evolution and the politics that shaped them.

Topic 3: Retirement Benefits -- Coverage and benefit calculation, the individual connection between payment of tax and receipt of benefits.

Topic 4: Derivative Benefits for Spouses -- Benefits for spouses, former spouses, and surviving spouses.

Topic 5: Derivative Benefits for Children -- Benefits for children in varying types of relationship with the "wage earner": including children born within and outside of marriage, adopted children, stepchildren, grandchildren.

Topic 6: Continuing Earnings, Age, and Benefits -- How the program's "retirement test" reduces benefits in relation to continuing earnings and "retirement age" affects benefit amount.

Topic 7: Disability Benefits -- The standard.

Topic 8: Disability Benefits -- The administrative process.

Topic 9: Disability Benefits -- Areas of particular difficulty.

Topic 10: Judicial Review -- How one secures judicial review of an individual determination, on the one hand, and of a regulation or administrative practice affecting many, on the other.

Topic 11: Lawyers and Social Security -- Social security representation: Who does it and on what terms and conditions.

Topic 12: The Relationship Between Social Security and Other Earnings Replacements -- How Supplemental Security Income, Workers Compensation, Private Pensions, and Medicare interact with Social Security and vice versa.

Topic 13: Selected Issues -- Current Social Security "reform" proposals and other issues of interest to the class

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