Social Security.

This course has been added to the Spring schedule. The course number is 388-071. It will be taught by Professor Martin in distance learning format, and thus there will be no scheduled class time. Three credit hours. Course description:  This course covers issues of entitlement and benefit calculation arising out of the set of programs popularly referred to as Social Security. The law of these programs touches the lives of well over 90 percent of all persons living or working in the United States and provides critical income to those who have retired or ceased working due to severe physical or mental disability and members of their families. Both individually and collectively the amounts are very large. For a majority of those receiving Social Security, the benefits represent at least half their total income. Total payments amount to more than $380 billion a year. The law directing these payments and setting their amount is complex. Questions about proper application of this law are raised in thousands of administrative hearings and federal court proceedings each year. Learning about that law is important, however, not only to those who must resolve questions of Social Security law as judges or who represent individuals and families seeking Social Security benefits, but to all individuals, family members, and organizations seeking a clearer understanding of how this program affects their lives and plans. Since these benefits are so important to individuals at critical points in their lives, knowing under what circumstances Social Security benefits are available and how much they will be is essential for effective financial planning. Decisions about when to retire, how much to save and in what form, and even whether to marry or divorce should in many cases involve consideration of Social Security. The basic components of this course include the following:

- All course materials will be on the Web.

- Background and introductory material, points about the readings, problems, and the opening portion of class discussion will all presented by
Professor Martin using Web-linked streaming audio.

- Web-based tutorials and exercises tightly integrated with the readings and presentations will provide a regular means for each student to gauge the level of his or her understanding of each topic in preparation for class discussion.

- Class discussions will take place using written exchange within a Web conference environment.

- Evenly spaced through the term there will be several short writing assignments and problem-solving assignments to be submitted via the Net for teacher evaluation and feedback, followed by class discussion.

- While all students in the course will have to keep pace with the scheduled progression through the topics, readings, discussion, and problems, none of the above elements needs be done at a specifically scheduled time of day or day of the week.

- Students planning on running the lecture/presentations at home via a dial-up connection need to be sure that their ISP is up to the demands of real audio at the time of day they plan on listening.  Streaming audio is fine over a dial-up connection but if the student's ISP is overloaded the experience can be very frustrating.

- Students who are good at organizing their own time and value flexibility will find the course a positive experience. Those who expect less work or less challenge will be frustrated.

There will be a take-home exam (any time during exam period).