Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2009

 

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Abbreviations

AIME
average indexed monthly earnings
DI
Disability Insurance
FICA
Federal Insurance Contributions Act
FRA
full retirement age
HI
Hospital Insurance
OASDI
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance
OASI
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
PIA
primary insurance amount
SECA
Self-Employment Contributions Act
SSA
Social Security Administration
SSI
Supplemental Security Income

General Information, 2009

Cost-of-living adjustment

Cost-of-living adjustment, 2009: 5.8%

Tax rates

Tax rates, 2009 (in percent)
Program Employer and
employee, each
Self-employed
Total 7.65 15.30
OASI 5.30 10.60
DI 0.90 1.80
HI 1.45 2.90
 

Average wage index

Average wage index, 2007–2009
Year Dollars Increase from
previous year
(in percent)
2007 40,405.48 4.5
2008 (estimated) 41,679.58 3.2
2009 (estimated) 42,041.84 0.9
 

Maximum earnings subject to Social Security taxes

Maximum earnings subject to Social Security taxes, 2009 (in dollars)
Program Amount
OASDI 106,800
HI No limit
 

Taxes payable

Taxes payable, 2009 (in dollars)
Type of earner Total OASI DI HI
Average earner 3,216 2,228 378 610
Maximum earner 6,622 5,660 961 No limit
Self-employed maximum earner 13,243 11,321 1,922 No limit
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Work credits

Work credits (quarters of coverage), 2009:
  • $1,090 in earnings equals 1 credit
  • $4,360 in earnings qualifies for the maximum of 4 credits

Exempt amounts under the retirement earnings test

Exempt amounts under the retirement earnings test, 2009 (in dollars)
Period Annually Monthly
Age of retired person in 2009
Under full retirement age ($1 for $2 withholding rate) 14,160 1,180
Full retirement age ($1 for $3 withholding rate) a 37,680 3,140
Above full retirement age No limit No limit
a. The test applies only to earnings made in months prior to the month of attainment of full retirement age.

Age for full retirement benefit for retired workers

Age for full retirement benefit for retired workers
Year of birth Full retirement age
1937 and earlier 65
1938 65 and 2 months
1939 65 and 4 months
1940 65 and 6 months
1941 65 and 8 months
1942 65 and 10 months
1943–1954 66
1955 66 and 2 months
1956 66 and 4 months
1957 66 and 6 months
1958 66 and 8 months
1959 66 and 10 months
1960 and later 67
 

Benefit formula bend points

Benefit formula bend points (for workers with first eligibility in 2009)

Primary insurance amount (PIA) equals

  • 90% of the first $744 of AIME, plus
  • 32% of AIME over $744 through $4,483 plus
  • 15% of AIME over $4,483

Disability thresholds

Disability thresholds

Substantial gainful activity

  • $980 per month for nonblind persons
  • $1,640 per month for blind persons

Trial work period

  • $700 per month

Maximum Social Security benefit

$2,323 per month for workers retiring at full retirement age in 2009
Higher benefits are possible for those who work or delay benefit receipt after reaching full retirement age

Trust fund operations

Trust fund operations, 2008–2009 (in billions of dollars)
Calendar year and trust fund Income Outgo Fund
at end
of year
2008 (actual)
Total 805.3 625.1 2,418.7
OASI 695.5 516.2 2,202.9
DI 109.8 109.0 215.8
2009 (estimated)
Total 819.4 682.5 2,555.5
OASI 708.5 561.8 2,349.6
DI 110.9 120.7 206.0
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

OASDI administrative expenses

OASDI administrative expenses: Costs were 0.9% of contributions in calendar year 2008

Benefit payments

Benefit payments as a percentage of gross domestic product, 2007–2008
Calendar year Total OASI DI
2007 4.23 3.53 0.69
2008 4.31 3.57 0.74
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Workload

Workload, fiscal year 2008 (in millions)
Type of filing Number
OASI claims 4.2
DI claims 2.8
SSI applications 2.7
 

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income, January 2009

Federal benefit rate

  • $674 individual
  • $1,011 couple

Resource limits

  • $2,000 individual
  • $3,000 couple

Poverty thresholds

Poverty thresholds, 2008 (in dollars)
Family unit Amount
Aged individual 10,326
Family of two, aged head 13,014
Family of four 22,207
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau as of January 2009.

Income of the Aged Population

Size of Income, 1962 and 2007

Median annual income for married couples and nonmarried persons aged 65 or older has increased markedly since 1962 (the earliest year for which data are available). Even after adjusting for inflation, median income has risen 106% for married couples and 104% for nonmarried persons. A married couple is aged 65 or older if the husband is aged 65 or older or if the husband is aged 54 or younger and the wife is 65 or older.

Median income of aged units, by marital status (in 2007 dollars)
Bar chart. Median income has risen for married couples from $19,739 in 1962 to $40,644 in 2007. Likewise, it has risen for nonmarried persons from $7,758 in 1962 to $15,858 in 2007.
SOURCES: Data for 1962 are from Social Security Administration, The Aged Population of the United States: The 1963 Social Security Survey of the Aged (1967). Data for 2007 are Social Security Administration calculations from the March 2008 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey.
NOTE: An aged unit is a married couple living together or a nonmarried person, which also includes persons who are separated or married but not living together.

Receipt of Income, 1962 and 2007

Social Security benefits—the most common source of income for married couples and nonmarried persons aged 65 or older in 1962—are now almost universal. The proportion of the aged population with asset income—the next most common source—is similar to that in 1962. Over the 45-year period, receipt of private pensions has more than tripled, and receipt of government pensions has increased by approximately 50%. The proportion of couples and nonmarried persons aged 65 or older who had earnings was smaller in 2007 than in 1962.

Percentage of aged units receiving income, by source
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCES: Data for 1962 are from Social Security Administration, The Aged Population of the United States: The 1963 Social Security Survey of the Aged (1967). Data for 2007 are Social Security Administration calculations from the March 2008 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey.
NOTE: An aged unit is a married couple living together or a nonmarried person, which also includes persons who are separated or married but not living together.

Shares of Aggregate Income, 1962 and 2007

In 1962, Social Security, private and government employee pensions, income from assets, and earnings made up only 84% of the aggregate total income of couples and nonmarried persons aged 65 or older, compared with 97% in 2007. The shares from Social Security, private pensions, and government employee pensions have increased since 1962. The shares from earnings and asset income are about the same in 2007 as they were in 1962.

Aggregate income, by source, 1962 and 2007
Two pie charts linked to data in table format.
SOURCES: Data for 1962 are from Social Security Administration, The Aged Population of the United States: The 1963 Social Security Survey of the Aged (1967). Data for 2007 are Social Security Administration calculations from the March 2008 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey.
NOTES: The unit of analysis is the aged unit, defined as a married couple living together or a nonmarried person, which also includes persons who are separated or married but not living together.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Relative Importance of Social Security, 2007

In 2007, 88% of married couples and 86% of nonmarried persons aged 65 or older received Social Security benefits. Social Security was the major source of income (providing at least 50% of total income) for 53% of aged beneficiary couples and 73% of aged nonmarried beneficiaries. It was 90% or more of income for 21% of aged beneficiary couples and 44% of aged nonmarried beneficiaries. Total income excludes withdrawals from savings and nonannuitized IRAs or 401(k) plans; it also excludes in-kind support, such as food stamps and housing and energy assistance.

Percentage of aged units receiving Social Security benefits, by relative importance of benefits to total income
Bar chart described in the text. In addition, Social Security provided at least 50% of total income for 64% of all beneficiary units. It was 90% or more of income for 35% of all beneficiary units.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration calculations from the March 2008 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey.
NOTE: An aged unit is a married couple living together or a nonmarried person, which also includes persons who are separated or married but not living together.

Poverty Status Based on Family Income, 2007

The aged poor are those with income below the poverty line. The near poor have income greater than or equal to the poverty line and less than 125% of the poverty line. Nonmarried women and minorities have the highest poverty rates, ranging from 17.6% to 23.2%. Married persons have the lowest poverty rates, with 4.2% poor and 3.6% near poor. Overall, 9.7% are poor and 6.4% are near poor.

Poverty status, by marital status, sex of nonmarried persons, race, and Hispanic origin
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration calculations from the March 2008 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey.
a. Current Population Survey respondents may identify themselves in more than one racial group. The "white alone" and "black alone" categories reflect respondents who reported only one race.

OASDI Program

Earnings in Covered Employment, 1937–2008

People contribute to Social Security through payroll taxes or self-employment taxes, as required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA). The maximum taxable amount is updated annually on the basis of increases in the average wage. Of the 162 million workers with earnings in Social Security–covered employment in 2008, 6% had earnings that equaled or exceeded the maximum amount subject to taxes, compared with 3% when the program began and a peak of 36% in 1965. About 84% of earnings in covered employment were taxable in 2008, compared with 92% in 1937.

Taxable earnings as a percentage of earnings in covered employment and percentage of workers with maximum taxable earnings, selected years
Line chart. In 1937, 92% of earnings were in covered employment. That percentage fell gradually, reaching a low of 71.3% in 1965. It then rose steadily, peaking at 88.9% in 1985, then fell back slowly to about 85% in 2008. The percentage of workers with maximum earnings shows an inverse pattern. Only 3.1% of workers had maximum earnings in 1937, rising steadily and reaching a high of 36.1% in 1965. The percentage fell to 15% in 1975, then to 6.5% in 1985, and to 6% in 2008.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Office of the Chief Actuary.

Insured Status, 1970–2008

The percentage of persons aged 20 or older who are insured for benefits has remained the same for the past several years. To be fully insured, a worker must have at least one work credit (quarter of coverage) for each year elapsed after age 21 (but no earlier than 1950) and before the year in which he or she attains age 62, becomes disabled, or dies. The maximum number of work credits needed to be fully insured is 40. An individual is said to be permanently insured if he or she has earned 40 work credits. To be insured for disability, the worker must be fully insured and have at least 20 work credits during the last 40 calendar quarters. (Requirements for disability-insured status are somewhat different for persons younger than age 31.) Disability benefits are available up to full retirement age (FRA).

Insured workers as a percentage of the corresponding Social Security area population, selected years
Year Population aged 20 or older Population aged 20–64a
Millions Percentage
permanently
insured
Percentage
fully
insured
Millions Percentage
insured for
disability
1970 135.2 50 77 113.2 62
1975 147.5 50 80 122.9 65
1980 162.0 53 83 133.3 70
1985 175.1 57 84 144.1 73
1990 186.0 63 86 151.9 76
1995 194.7 66 87 160.5 78
2000 204.7 69 88 169.2 79
2005 219.7 69 88 182.2 79
2006 222.2 69 88 184.3 79
2007 224.6 69 88 186.0 79
2008 227.1 69 88 187.8 79
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Office of the Chief Actuary.
NOTES: The population in the Social Security area includes residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia adjusted for net census undercount; civilian residents of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands; federal civilian employees and persons in the armed forces abroad and their dependents; crew members of merchant vessels; and all other U.S. citizens abroad.
Figures are subject to revision.
a. Insured for disability excludes those over age 64.

Insured Status, by Sex, 1970 and 2008

Although men are more likely than women to be insured, the gender gap is shrinking. The proportion of men who are insured has remained essentially stable, with 91% fully insured and 82% insured for disability. a By contrast, the proportion of women who are insured has increased dramatically—from 63% to 84% fully insured and from 41% to 76% insured for disability.

Percentage of population in the Social Security area fully insured and insured for disability benefits, by sex
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Office of the Chief Actuary.
NOTES: The population in the Social Security area includes residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia adjusted for net census undercount; civilian residents of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands; federal civilian employees and persons in the armed forces abroad and their dependents; crew members of merchant vessels; and all other U.S. citizens abroad.
Figures are subject to revision.
a. Insured for disability excludes those over age 64.

New Benefit Awards, 2008

Benefits were awarded to about 5.1 million persons; of those, 44% were retired workers and 17% were disabled workers. The remaining 39% were survivors or the spouses and children of retired or disabled workers. These awards represent not only new entrants to the benefit rolls but also persons already on the rolls who become entitled to a different benefit, particularly conversions of disabled-worker benefits to retired-worker benefits at full retirement age.

New awards, by type of beneficiary
Beneficiary Number
(thousands)
Percent
Total 5,135 100
Retired workers and dependents 2,764 54
Workers 2,279 44
Spouses and children 485 9
Disabled workers and dependents 1,419 28
Workers 877 17
Spouses and children 542 11
Survivors of deceased workers 952 19
 
New awards, 2008
Pie chart described in the text.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

New Awards to Workers, 1968–2008

Awards to retired workers have increased considerably over the past four decades, but proportionately much less than awards to disabled workers. The annualized rate of increase over the period from 1968 to 2008 is 1.5% for retired workers and 2.5% for disabled workers. The annual number of awards to retired workers rose from 1.2 million in 1968 to 2.3 million in 2008, while for disabled workers it increased from 323,000 in 1968 to 877,000 in 2008.

New awards to retired and disabled workers
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

Beneficiaries in Current-Payment Status, December 2008

More than 50 million beneficiaries were in current-payment status, that is, they were being paid a benefit. Sixty-three percent of those beneficiaries were retired workers and 15% were disabled workers. The remaining 23% were survivors or the spouses and children of retired or disabled workers.

Beneficiaries in current-payment status
Beneficiary Number
(thousands)
Percent
Total 50,898 100
Retired workers and dependents 35,170 69
Workers 32,274 63
Spouses and children 2,896 6
Disabled workers and dependents 9,273 18
Workers 7,427 15
Spouses and children 1,846 4
Survivors of deceased workers 6,456 13
 
Beneficiaries, by type
Pie chart illustrating the Percent data from the previous table. In addition, showing that 10% of beneficiaries in current-payment status were spouses and children of retired or disabled workers.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Average Benefit Amounts, 2008

Benefits payable to workers who retire at the full retirement age and to disabled workers are equal to 100% of the PIA (subject to any applicable deductions). At the full retirement age, widow(er)s' benefits are also payable at 100% of the insured worker's PIA. Nondisabled widow(er)s can receive reduced benefits at age 60. Disabled widow(er)s can receive reduced benefits at age 50. Spouses, children, and parents receive a smaller proportion of the worker's PIA than do widow(er)s.

Average monthly benefit for new awards and for benefits in current-payment status (in dollars)
Beneficiary New awards Benefits in
current-payment
status, December
All beneficiaries 942 1,054
Retired workers 1,173 1,153
Spouses 420 569
Children 536 568
Disabled workers 1,115 1,063
Spouses 293 286
Children 294 318
Survivors of deceased workers
Nondisabled widow(er)s 918 1,112
Disabled widow(er)s 671 684
Widowed mothers and fathers 814 835
Surviving children 749 745
Parents 914 979
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

Beneficiaries, by Age, December 2008

About four-fifths of all OASDI beneficiaries in current-payment status were aged 62 or older, including 24 percent aged 75–84 and 10 percent aged 85 or older. About 15 percent were persons aged 18–61 receiving benefits as disabled workers, survivors, or dependents. Another 6 percent were children under age 18.

Beneficiaries, by age
Pie chart described in the text. In addition, 37% of all OASDI beneficiaries in current-payment status were aged 65-74 and 9% were aged 62-64.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Disabled and Retired Workers, by Age, 1960–2008

The average age of disabled-worker beneficiaries in current-payment status has declined substantially since 1960, when DI benefits first became available to persons younger than age 50. In that year, the average age of a disabled worker was 57.2 years. The rapid drop in average age in the following years reflects a growing number of awards to workers under 50. By 1995, the average age had fallen to a low of 49.8, and by 2008, it had risen to 52.6. In contrast, the average age of retired workers has changed little over time, rising from 72.4 in 1960 to 73.9 in 2008.

Average age of disabled and retired workers, selected years
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 10 percent sample for 1988 and 1990–2005 and 100 percent data for all other years.

Beneficiaries, by Sex, December 2008

Of all adults receiving monthly Social Security benefits, 44% were men and 56% were women. Seventy-eight percent of the men and 59% of the women received retired-worker benefits. About one-fifth of the women received survivor benefits.

Adult beneficiaries, by type of beneficiary and sex
Two pie charts linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Average Monthly Benefit, by Sex, December 2008

Among retired and disabled workers who collected benefits based on their own work records, men received a higher average monthly benefit than did women. For those with benefits based on another person's work record (spouses and survivors), women had higher average benefits.

Average monthly benefit (in dollars)
Beneficiary Men Women
All beneficiaries 1,274 962
Workers
Retired 1,299 1,001
Disabled 1,191 920
Spouses of—
Retired workers 335 573
Disabled workers 229 288
Survivors of deceased workers
Nondisabled widow(er)s 938 1,115
Disabled widow(er)s 498 692
Mothers and fathers 720 843
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

Women Beneficiaries, 1940–2008

The proportion of women among retired-worker beneficiaries has quadrupled since 1940. The percentage climbed from 12% in 1940 to 47% in 1980, 48% in 1990, and 49% in 2008. The proportion of women among disabled-worker beneficiaries has more than doubled since 1957, when DI benefits first became payable. The percentage rose steadily from 19% in 1957 to 35% in 1990 and 47% in 2008.

Women beneficiaries as a percentage of retired workers and disabled workers, selected years
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

Women with Dual Entitlement, 1960–2008

The proportion of women aged 62 or older who are receiving benefits as dependents (that is, on the basis of their husbands' earnings record only) has been declining—from 57% in 1960 to 28% in 2008. At the same time, the proportion of women with dual entitlement (that is, paid on the basis of both their own earnings records and those of their husbands) has been increasing—from 5% in 1960 to 28% in 2008.

Women aged 62 or older, by basis of entitlement, selected years
Area chart described in the text. In addition, the percentage of women who are entitled solely on their own earnings records as retired or disabled workers has remained fairly steady over this period at about 42%.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 10 percent sample for 1993–2005 and 100 percent data for all other years.

SSI Program

Number of Recipients, 1974–2008

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides income support to needy persons aged 65 or older, blind or disabled adults, and blind or disabled children. Eligibility requirements and federal payment standards are nationally uniform. SSI replaced the former federal/state adult assistance programs in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Payments under SSI began in January 1974, with 3.2 million persons receiving federally administered payments. By December 1974, this number had risen to nearly 4 million and remained at about that level until the mid-1980s, then rose steadily, reaching nearly 6 million in 1993 and 7 million by the end of 2004. 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.

Persons receiving federally administered SSI payments, December
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.

Payment Amounts, by Age, December 2008

The average monthly federally administered SSI payment was $478. Payments varied by age group, ranging from an average of $561 for recipients aged under 18 to $396 for those aged 65 or older. The maximum federal benefit rate in December 2008 was $637 for an individual, $956 for a couple, plus any applicable state supplementation.

Average monthly federally administered SSI payment
Bar chart described in the text. In addition, recipients aged 18-64 received an average payment of $494.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.
NOTE: Amounts exclude retroactive payments.

Federally Administered Payments, December 2008

A total of 7.5 million persons received federally administered SSI payments. The majority received federal SSI only. States have the option of supplementing the federal benefit rate and are required to do so if that rate is less than the income the recipient would have had under the former state program.

Type of SSI payment
Pie chart. In December 2008, 69% of the nearly 7.5 million SSI recipients received only a federal SSI payment, 27% received federally administered state supplementation along with their federal SSI payment, and 4% received only federally administered state supplementation.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.

Basis for Eligibility and Age of Recipients, December 2008

Sixteen percent of SSI recipients received benefits on the basis of age, the rest on the basis of disability. Twenty-seven percent of the recipients were aged 65 or older. In the SSI program, a disabled recipient is still classified as "disabled" after reaching age 65. In the OASDI program, DI beneficiaries are converted to the retirement program when they attain full retirement age.

SSI recipients, by basis for eligibility and age
Two pie charts. The first pie chart shows the percentage distribution in December 2008 of SSI recipients by basis for eligibility: 83% are disabled, 16% are aged, and 1% are blind. The second pie chart shows the same group distributed by age: 15% are under 18, 58% are aged 18–64, and 27% are 65 or older.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.

Percentage Distribution of Recipients, by Age, 1974–2008

The proportion of SSI recipients aged 65 or older has declined from 61% in January 1974 to 27% in December 2008. The overall long-term growth of the SSI program has occurred because of an increase in the number of disabled recipients, most of whom are under age 65.

Percentage distribution of SSI recipients, by age, December
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.

Recipients, by Sex and Age, December 2008

Overall, 56% of the 7.5 million SSI recipients were women, but that percentage varied greatly by age group. Women accounted for 68% of the 2.0 million recipients aged 65 or older, 56% of the 4.3 million recipients aged 18–64, and 34% of the 1.2 million recipients under age 18.

SSI recipients, by sex and age
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.

Other Income, December 2008

Fifty-seven percent of SSI recipients aged 65 or older received OASDI benefits, as did 32% of those aged 18–64 and 7% of those under age 18. Other types of unearned income, such as income from assets, were reported most frequently among those under age 18 (20%) and those aged 65 or older (14%). Earned income was most prevalent (6%) among those aged 18–64.

Other income of SSI recipients, by source and age
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.

OASDI, SSI, or Both

All Beneficiaries, December 2008

About 55.8 million people received a payment from Social Security. Most (48.3 million) received OASDI benefits only, about 4.9 million received SSI only, and 2.6 million received payments from both programs.

Beneficiaries receiving OASDI, SSI, or both
Benefit Number
(thousands)
Total (unduplicated) 55,806
OASDI 50,898
OASDI only 48,285
SSI 7,521
SSI only 4,908
Both OASDI and SSI 2,613
 
Distribution of all beneficiaries
Pie chart. Of the 55.8 million beneficiaries in December 2008, 87% received only OASDI benefits, 9% received only SSI benefits, and 5% received both OASDI and SSI benefits.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data; Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.
NOTES: SSI includes federal SSI payments and federally administered state supplementation.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Beneficiaries Aged 65 or Older, December 2008

Benefits were paid to 37 million people aged 65 or older. Nearly 1.2 million received both OASDI and SSI.

Beneficiaries aged 65 or older receiving OASDI, SSI, or both
Beneficiary Number
(thousands)
Total (unduplicated) 36,697
OASDI
Total 35,818
Retired workers 29,506
Disabled workers 340
Spouses 2,164
Widow(er)s 3,734 a
Disabled adult children 74
OASDI only 34,664
SSI
Total 2,034 b
Receiving SSI only 879
Receiving both OASDI and SSI 1,154
 
Distribution of beneficiaries aged 65 or older,
by program
Pie chart. Of the 37 million beneficiaries aged 65 or older in December 2008, 94% received only OASDI benefits, 3% received both OASDI and SSI benefits, and 2% received only SSI payments.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data; Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.
NOTES: SSI includes federal SSI payments and federally administered state supplementation.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
a. Includes persons who received dependent parent's benefits or mother's and father's benefits.
b. Includes 830,300 SSI beneficiaries aged 65 or older who are disabled or blind.

Disabled Beneficiaries Aged 18–64, December 2008

Payments were made to 11.1 million people aged 18–64 on the basis of their own disability. Sixty-one percent received disability payments from the OASDI program only, 27% received payments from the SSI program only, and 12% received payments from both programs.

Disabled beneficiaries aged 18–64 receiving OASDI, SSI, or both
Beneficiary Number
(thousands)
Total (unduplicated) 11,141
OASDI disability
Total 8,100
Workers aged 64 or younger 7,086
Disabled adult children 798
Widow(er)s 216
OASDI disability only 6,808
SSI disability
Total 4,333
Receiving SSI disability only 3,041
Receiving both OASDI and SSI disability 1,292
 
Distribution of disabled beneficiaries aged 18–64
Pie chart described in the text.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data; Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.
NOTE: SSI includes federal SSI payments and federally administered state supplementation.

Children

OASDI Beneficiaries, December 2008

More than 3.2 million children under age 18 and students aged 18–19 received OASDI benefits. Children of deceased workers had the highest average payments, in part because they are eligible to receive monthly benefits based on 75% of the worker's PIA, compared with 50% for children of retired or disabled workers. Overall, the average monthly benefit amount for children was $512.

Number of and average monthly benefit for children of worker beneficiaries
Number of children of—
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
Average monthly benefit for children of—
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

SSI Recipients, 1974–2008

In 1974, when the program began, 70,900 blind and disabled children were receiving SSI. That number increased to 995,000 in 1996, declined to 847,000 in 2000, and is now 1,153,800. The relatively high average payment to children (compared with payments made to blind and disabled adults) is due in part to a limited amount of other countable income. The spike in average monthly benefits in 1992 is due to retroactive payments resulting from the Sullivan v. Zebley decision. As of December 2008, blind and disabled children were receiving SSI payments averaging $561.

Number of and average monthly payment to children under age 18 receiving SSI
Number of children under age 18 receiving SSI
Line chart linked to data in table format.
Average monthly SSI payment to children under age 18a
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.
a. As of 1998, these figures exclude retroactive payments.

Social Security Financing

How Social Security Is Financed

Social Security is largely a pay-as-you-go program. Most of the payroll taxes collected from today's workers are used to pay benefits to today's recipients. In 2008, the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds collected $805.3 billion in revenues. Of that amount, 83% was derived from payroll taxes and 2% from income taxes on Social Security benefits. Interest earned on the government bonds held by the trust funds provided the remaining 14% of income. Assets increased in 2008 because income exceeded expenditures for benefit payments and administrative expenses.

Sources and uses of Social Security revenues in 2008
Two pie charts showing the sources and uses of the $805.3 billion in revenue collected by the Social Security trust funds in 2008. The Sources of Revenues pie has three slices. Payroll taxes: 83%. Interest: 14%. Taxation of benefits: 2%. The Uses of Revenues pie has four slices. Benefit payments: 76%. Increase in trust funds: 22%. Administrative expenses: 1%. Railroad Retirement financial interchange: less than 1%.
SOURCES: 2009 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds, Table II.B1.
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Social Security's Demographic Challenge

The number of retired workers is projected to grow rapidly starting in 2008, when the members of the post–World War II baby boom begin to reach early retirement age, and will double in less than 30 years. People are also living longer, and the birth rate is low. As a result, the ratio of workers paying Social Security taxes to people collecting benefits will fall from 3.2 to 1 in 2008 to 2.1 to 1 by 2034. The Trustees Report projects that in 2016, when the ratio will be 2.8, there will not be enough workers to pay scheduled benefits at current tax rates. The Trustees Report also projects that redemption of trust fund assets will be sufficient to allow for full payment of scheduled benefits until 2037.

Ratio of covered workers to Social Security beneficiaries
Line chart. In 1955, there were 8.6 workers supporting each retiree. By 1975, that ratio had declined to 3.2 workers per beneficiary and remained between 3.1 and 3.4 over the next 30 years. Current projections have the ratio starting to decline again in 2008, decreasing at an accelerating rate until it reaches 2.1 workers per beneficiary in 2031. Thereafter, it continues to decline by one-tenth of a percentage point approximately every 15 years, arriving in 2085 at only 1.9 workers per beneficiary.
SOURCE: 2009 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds, Table IV.B2.

The Long-Run Financial Outlook

Social Security is not sustainable over the long term at current benefit and tax rates. Within 7 years the program will begin paying more in benefits than it collects in taxes (see the chart below). By 2037 the trust funds will be exhausted. At that point, payroll taxes and other income will flow into the fund but will be sufficient to pay only 76% of program costs. As reported in the 2009 Trustees Report, the shortfall over the next 75 years is 2.00% of taxable payroll.

Social Security income minus costs as a percentage of taxable payroll
Line chart showing Social Security trust fund balance (income minus costs), expressed as a percentage of taxable payroll, from 2009 to 2085. The trust fund balance is about 0.48 percent of taxable payroll in 2009. After a brief upturn, the trust fund balance is projected to decline rapidly. Costs will begin to exceed income in 2016 and the trust fund will become insolvent in 2037. Annual trust fund balances are projected to range between -3.36 and -4.43 percent of taxable payroll from 2035 to 2085.
SOURCE: 2009 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds, Table IV.B1.