Social Security Facts & Stats

Retirement & Investing
on December 2, 2010

Four generations of American workers have received Social Security benefits since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation creating the “old age, survivors and disability insurance” program 75 years ago.

Here are some facts and statistics about today’s Social Security program:

  • An estimated 156 million workers—93 percent of all American workers—are covered under Social Security.
  • Some 53 million Americans, including 34 million retired workers and 8 million disabled workers, will receive $703 billion in Social Security benefits this year.
  • Nine of 10 Americans age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits.
  • The average monthly benefit for retired workers is $1,170.
  • Social Security benefits represent about 40 percent of the income of the elderly.
  • One of every three Social Security beneficiaries is a disabled worker, the dependent family member of a disabled worker, or the survivor of a deceased worker.
  • Sixty-nine percent of total benefits paid goes to retired workers and their dependents; disabled workers and their dependents account for 19 percent of total benefits paid.
  • Social Security is financed through a dedicated payroll tax. Employers and employees each pay 6.2 percent of wages, up to the taxable maximum of $106,800; the self-employed pay 12.4 percent.
  • Most of the payroll taxes collected from today’s workers are used to pay benefits to today’s recipients.
  • Due to the economic recession, the Social Security program will pay more in benefits and expenses than it collects in taxes this year and next year.
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