The Social Security system is often portrayed as an essential public benefit program that provides retirement income and disability protections. However, Social Security functions as a government franchise, compelling citizens to function as public officers (trustees), and individuals engaging in government franchises are regarded as if they lack constitutional rights, despite the fact that such actions may be illegal or unconstitutional. For individuals who choose not to participate, there are legal methods to withdraw from the Social Security system. This post will examine the background, process, and implications of resigning from Social Security.
Background on Social Security
The Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. The program was originally designed to pay benefits to retirees over age 65. It has since been expanded to provide disability income, survivor benefits, and Medicare coverage. Social Security is primarily funded through payroll taxes on employees and employers. Individual participation is tracked using Social Security Numbers issued by the Social Security Administration.
Under the law, certain groups are exempt from mandatory Social Security taxes, including certain state and local government employees, railroad workers, and religious groups opposed to public insurance. Self-employed individuals may also opt out of Social Security, but must pay self-employment taxes instead. Apart from these exceptions, the Social Security Administration maintains that participation is required for nearly all U.S. workers. However, what they fail to clarify is the definition and meaning of "United States" being referred to when using terms like "U.S. citizen" or "U.S. worker." This lack of clarity creates ambiguity and leaves room for presumptions, potentially resulting in the transfer of private rights to the public domain for administrative purposes.
Reasons for Resigning from Social Security
Some individuals wish to resign from Social Security due to privacy concerns, religious/ethical objections, or beliefs that the system is insolvent or unlawful. Here at Zero Point University
, we provide a resignation process based on the following objections:
- State citizens/nationals are not eligible for federal retirement benefits.
- Social Security Numbers enable government surveillance/tracking.
- Compelled participation violates religious freedom and involuntary servitude prohibitions.
- System is actuarially unsound and may not provide future benefits.
- Forcing citizens to act as public officers (trustees) against their will is unlawful.
- Private sector workers cannot be compelled into a federal retirement system.
Zero Point University maintains that mandatory Social Security enrollment for most workers is unlawful and unconstitutional. Those who share these objections may wish to take action to withdraw from the system.
There is no statutory provision that expressly allows individuals to opt out of Social Security. However, the Social Security Administration does provide a procedure for beneficiaries to withdraw applications within certain time limits.
To formally resign from Social Security, individuals can submit SSA Form 521 to request withdrawal of their original benefit application, together with Form SS-5 to update Social Security records. The SSA Program Operations Manual System (POMS) outlines the following general steps:
- Obtain copy of original SS-5 application form using SSA Form L-996. This enables documenting the precise application date to be withdrawn.
- Complete SSA Forms 521 and SS-5, providing corrected citizenship/residency status and eligibility information showing that benefits cannot lawfully be paid.
- Submit forms via certified mail to local Social Security office and SSA headquarters. This provides legal proof of filing.
- Keep copies of all resignation documents for personal records.
It may also be advisable to request correction of IRS and SSA records to reflect non-participation going forward. Some choose to submit additional forms changing their citizenship/residency status and revoke taxpayer identification numbers erroneously used.
Implications of Resignation
Successfully resigning from Social Security terminates an individual's ability to receive future retirement, disability, and health benefits. Payroll taxes should also cease for those no longer lawfully enrolled in the system. However, individuals who have already paid into the system for many years may find it complex to recoup taxes already collected in error.
In Clyatt v. United States (1905), the Supreme Court confirmed that the Social Security system is legally permissible as an exercise of Congress's power to tax and spend for the general welfare. So, the constitutionality of mandatory participation for eligible workers is well-established. Those wishing to resign due to conceptual objections face an uphill battle. The SSA may resist processing resignation requests and deny refund of past taxes.
Still, workers who believe Social Security enrollment is fundamentally incompatible with their legal status or religious beliefs may find resignation helpful to avoid compelled participation going forward. Carefully following the SSA’s procedures and retaining detailed records provides the best chance at success. Individuals may be able to strengthen their case by providing evidence of citizenship status, religious affiliation, or other facts showing they are not lawfully subject to Social Security requirements.
Social Security resignation is a complex process and may lead to loss of future benefits and eligibility. Those considering resignation should learn about the laws and regulations involved, document their objections carefully, follow procedures precisely, and be prepared for resistance from the SSA. For eligible workers who feel their participation is ethically or legally improper, however, resignation may be the right choice to regain self-determination.