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What is OASDI Payroll Tax?: How it works

What are the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) programs?

The federal Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program is social security in the United States. The OASDI tax noted on your paycheck funds this comprehensive federal benefits program that provides benefits to retirees with disabilities and their spouses, children, and survivors. The goal of the program is to partially cover lost income due to old age, death of a spouse, eligible ex-spouse, or disability. 1 


  • The federal OASDI program is the official name for Social Security.
  • It provides benefits for retirees and the disabled.
  • The OASDI tax, also known as the FICA payroll tax, funds the program.
  • The amount an individual pays each month is calculated based on their earnings over the years of their employment.

Learn about the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program

The U.S. Social Security program is the largest social security system in the world and the largest expenditure in the federal budget, expected to cost $1.2 trillion in 2021. 2 Nearly 90 percent of people age 65 and older receive treatment Social Security benefits, according to the Social Security Administration. 3 Social Security calculates your highest-earning 35-year Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). 

This program was introduced through the TV station Social Security Act on August 14, 1935, the U.S. economy was in the depths of an economic crisis signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The program has also grown considerably. In 1940, about 222,000 people received an average of $22.60 a month in benefits. 6 As of December 2020, the number was close to 70 million. In 2021, the average monthly benefit is $1,543. 

OASDI Payroll Tax

Payments to eligible individuals are funded through OASDI taxes, which are payroll taxes levied by the government known as the FICA tax (referred to as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act ) and the SECA Tax Self-Employed Contributions Act ). 2021, The Social Security tax rate is 6.2% for employees and 12.4% for the self-employed. 

These incomes are held in two trust funds:

  • This Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund Retires
  • The Disability Insurance Trust Fund Disability Compensation 

These trust funds payout earnings and invest the remaining income they collect.

There is a cap on the annual income you pay Social Security taxes. In 2021, the maximum income from this tax is $142,800. 

OASDI Project Standards

The OASDI program provides payments to those who meet certain criteria. For old age payments, payments are made to eligible individuals starting at age 62. The full retirement age depends on the date of birth, and anyone born in 1960 or later is 67. 10 Eligible people who wait until (but not later than) age 70 to begin receiving benefits can receive higher maximum benefits due to delayed retirement credits. 

Payments are calculated based on the wages people earn at working age. Surviving Family Payments to Surviving Spouse or Eligible Children are deceased or retired workers. 12 Disability benefits are paid to eligible persons who are no longer able to engage in substantial gainful activity and meet additional criteria. 

To be eligible for retirement benefits, workers must be fully insured. Workers can be fully insured by accumulating coverage credits (also known as quarters). Credits or quarters are accrued based on insured wages earned during a specific period. In 2021, for every $1,470 earned, one in four insurance will go to a worker. The dollar amount is pegged to inflation every few years. A worker can receive up to four credits or one-quarter of coverage per year, and 40 credits are required to receive benefits. 


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