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FAST FACTS ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY

When you think of Social Security, you probably think about a monthly payment for retired and disabled workers. But Social Security has a rich history full of interesting facts. The program has been around for almost 75 years, so there has been ample time to put together a list of fun facts and figures. Here are a few.

Social Security paid benefits to about 55.8 million people in 2008. Fifty-six percent of adult beneficiaries were women.

Here is some trivia about wages over the past few years. In 2007, the average annual wage was $40,405. In 2008, it went up to $41,679 (estimated). And in 2009, the average wage was $42,041 (estimated). 

Looking at the average wages, it’s plain to see how easy it is to reach your full Social Security credit each year. For example, in 2009, a wage-earner needed to earn and pay taxes on $4,360 of wages to earn the full four credits of Social Security coverage for the year.

 

When you retire, you’ll fully appreciate just how useful Social Security can be. In 2007, 88 percent of married couples and 86 percent of single people aged 65 or older received Social Security benefits.  Social Security was the major source of income (providing at least 50 percent of total income) for 53 percent of aged beneficiary couples and 73 percent of aged single beneficiaries.  Social Security made up 90 percent or more of income for 21 percent of aged beneficiary couples and 44 percent of aged single beneficiaries.

New benefits were approved for about 5.1 million people in 2008. Of these new beneficiaries, 44 percent were retired workers and 17 percent were disabled workers.  The remaining 39 percent were survivors or the spouses and children of retired or disabled workers.

Then there’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a program that provides income to needy people aged 65 or older, or who are blind or disabled. Payments under SSI began in January 1974, with 3.2 million people receiving federally administered payments. As of December 2008, the number of recipients was 7.5 million.  Of this total, 4.3 million were between the ages of 18 and 64, 2 million were aged 65 or older, and 1.2 million were under age 18.

To learn more, read our online publication Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2009 at www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/chartbooks/fast_facts.