The original mission for Social Security was to promote economic security for the nation’s people. Social Security is much more than a retirement program, providing financial benefits, information, and tools to help support workers and their families in every community across America.
It’s important for students to understand why Social Security was created and why it’s important in their lives today and in the future. This knowledge and understanding will provide your students a strong base on which to build their financial future.
The goal of our Educators webpage is to provide you with a toolkit full of the information and resources to develop engaging and informative lessons on Social Security and the importance of planning for the future.
The toolkit consists of the following components:
- 2 lesson plans with objectives
- Infographics and handouts for each lesson plan
- Links to web pages and other resources with additional information and resources
- Talking points
- Quiz questions and answers
Objective: To provide a basic understanding of why Social Security was created, who it serves, and how it works.
1. Is Social Security Important to High School Students?
Teacher Instructions: Start the discussion by asking the students what they think they know about Social Security and if they think Social Security is important to them as high school students. Capture key words/phrases on the board/screen to keep for future discussion.
2. Why was Social Security created? Who does it serve?
Teacher Instructions: Hand out the ‘What is Social Security’ infographic and review key areas as found on the talking points document.
- What is Social Security? – Infographic
- What is Social Security? – Talking Points
Option: For more in-depth information about Social Security’s history, watch the ’Hope of Many Years’ video on the side panel (50 minutes) in addition to the items listed above.
3. How does Social Security work?
Teacher Instructions: Hand out the ‘What is FICA’ and ‘Work Credits’ infographics and discuss using the talking points document.
- What is FICA? – Infographic
- What is FICA? – Talking Points
- Work credits – Infographic
- Work credits – Talking Points
Lesson Plan 1: Assessment You can use the questions below to gauge understanding.
Optional homework assignment: Visit the Students page and review the information. Pick a life stage from the copy and explain how it relates to you or someone in your family.
Objective: To reinforce that Social Security is more than retirement and will be there for them now and in the future.
1. Is Social Security just about retirement?
Teacher Instructions: Hand out the ‘Roadmap Infographic’ and Roadmap Companion’ document and walk through key life stages.
- Life’s Journey Roadmap
- Life’s Journey Companion Document
- Disability – Infographic
- Disability – Talking Points
2. Will Social Security be there for me?
Teacher Instructions: Hand out the ‘Will Social Security Be There For Me’ infographic and discuss using the talking points document. The ‘Work Credits’ materials are also appropriate to review for this section.
- Will Social Security Be There For Me? – Infographic
- Will Social Security Be There For Me? – Talking Points
- Work credits – Infographic
- Work credits – Talking points
Lesson Plan 2: Assessment You can use the questions below to gauge understanding.
Teacher Instructions: Go back to initial words/phrases your students used to describe Social Security at the beginning of lesson 1 and determine the following:
- Do they still think/feel the same way they did at the beginning of the lesson?
- If not, why?
- If so, why?
- What did they learn about Social Security that they didn’t know at the beginning of the lesson?
You as an educator may also have questions about Social Security and our online resources. It is important to check your Social Security Statement each year to verify the accuracy of your earnings.
Create a my Social Security account and verify your earnings and see an estimate of future benefits throughout your career and into retirement.
Also, use our Retirement Estimator to see what your benefits could be based on when you retire.
Please note: Some educators work in jobs in which they do not pay Social Security taxes. If this applies to you, you may be affected by either the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and/or the Government Pension Offset (GPO). These two laws can affect how we calculate your retirement or disability benefit or reduce spousal, widows, or widowers Social Security benefits.