Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2012

 
 

Did You Know That...

  • SSA paid benefits to about 60.4 million people in 2011
  • Social Security provided at least half the income for 65 percent of the aged beneficiaries in 2010
  • Social Security benefits were awarded to about 5.6 million people in 2011
  • Women accounted for 56 percent of adult Social Security beneficiaries in 2011
  • The average age of disabled-worker beneficiaries was 53.0 in 2011
  • Eighty-five percent of SSI recipients received payments because of disability or blindness in 2011
Tax rates, 2012 (in percent)
Program Employee a Employer Self-employed a
Total 5.65 7.65 13.30
OASI 3.59 5.30 8.89
DI 0.61 0.90 1.51
HI 1.45 1.45 2.90
a. Recent legislation reduced the 2012 OASDI tax rates by two percentage points for employees (from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent) and for the self-employed (from 12.4 percent to 10.4 percent). The Department of the Treasury will make up the reductions in tax revenue due to lower tax rates by transferring money from the general fund of the Treasury to the OASI and DI trust funds. SSA will credit workers with the full amount of taxable earnings.
Taxes payable, 2012 (in dollars)
Type of earner Total OASI DI HI
Average earner 2,522 1,603 272 647
Maximum earner 4,624 3,953 672 No limit
Self-employed maximum earner 11,450 9,788 1,662 No limit
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
Maximum earnings subject to Social Security taxes, 2012 (in dollars)
Program Amount
OASDI 110,100
HI No limit
 
Earnings required for work credits, 2012 (in dollars)
  Amount
One work credit (one quarter of coverage) 1,130
Maximum of four credits a year 4,520
 
Exempt amounts under the retirement earnings test, 2012 (in dollars)
Age of retired person in 2012 Annually Monthly
Under full retirement age ($1 for $2 withholding rate) 14,640 1,220
Full retirement age ($1 for $3 withholding rate) a 38,880 3,240
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.
Benefit payments as a percentage of gross domestic product, 2010–2011
Calendar year Total OASI DI
2010 4.79 3.94 0.85
2011 4.80 3.95 0.85
NOTE: Figures are subject to change.

Cost-of-living adjustment, 2012: 3.6%

Maximum monthly Social Security benefit:

$2,513 per month for workers retiring at full retirement age in 2012

NOTE: Higher benefits are possible for those who work or delay benefit receipt after reaching full retirement age.

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 (for workers with first eligibility in 2012):

Primary insurance amount (PIA) equals
90% of the first $767 of AIME, plus
32% of AIME over $767 through $4,624, plus
15% of AIME over $4,624

Average wage index, 2010–2012
Year Dollars Increase from previous year (in percent)
2010 41,673.83 2.4
2011 (estimated) 43,008.96 3.2
2012 (estimated) 44,644.06 3.8
 
Rates and limits, January 2012 (in dollars)

Individual Couple
Federal benefit rate 698 1,048
Resource limits 2,000 3,000
 

Disability thresholds

Substantial gainful activity

  • $1,010 per month for nonblind persons
  • $1,690 per month for blind persons

Trial work period

  • $720 per month
Poverty thresholds, 2011 (in dollars)
Family unit Amount
Aged individual 10,788
Family of two, aged head 13,596
Family of four 23,201
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau as of January 2012 (preliminary estimates).
Trust fund operations, 2011–2012 (in billions of dollars)
Calendar year and trust fund Income Outgo Fund
at end
of year
2011 (actual)
Total 805.1 736.1 2,677.9
OASI 698.8 603.8 2,524.1
DI 106.3 132.3 153.9
2012 (estimated)
Total 846.0 788.7 2,735.2
OASI 735.7 647.2 2,612.6
DI 110.2 141.5 122.6
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

OASDI administrative expenses: Costs were 0.9% of contributions in calendar year 2011

Workload, fiscal year 2011 (in millions)
Type of filing Number
OASI claims 4.8
DI claims 3.6
SSI applications 3.2
 

Size of Income, 1962 and 2010

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 115% for married couples and 112% 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 2010 dollars)
Bar chart. Median income has risen for married couples from $20,759 in 1962 to $44,718 in 2010. Likewise, it has risen for nonmarried persons from $8,159 in 1962 to $17,261 in 2010.
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 2010 are Social Security Administration calculations from the March 2011 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 2010

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 48-year period, receipt of private pensions has tripled, and receipt of government pensions has increased by more than 50%. The proportion of couples and nonmarried persons aged 65 or older who had earnings was smaller in 2010 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 2010 are Social Security Administration calculations from the March 2011 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 2010

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 96% in 2010. The shares from Social Security, private pensions, and government employee pensions have increased since 1962. The share from earnings in 2010 is about the same as it was in 1962, while the share from asset income is lower.

Aggregate income, by source
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 2010 are Social Security Administration calculations from the March 2011 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, 2010

In 2010, 88% of married couples and 85% 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 74% of aged nonmarried beneficiaries. It was 90% or more of income for 23% of aged beneficiary couples and 46% 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 65% of all beneficiary units. It was 90% or more of income for 36% of all beneficiary units.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration calculations from the March 2011 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, 2010

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 15.8% to 18.0%. Married persons have the lowest poverty rates, with 4.2% poor and 3.1% near poor. Overall, 9.0% are poor and 5.7% 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 2011 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.

Earnings in Covered Employment, 1937–2011

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 158 million workers with earnings in Social Security–covered employment in 2011, 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 83% of earnings in covered employment were taxable in 2011, 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 83% in 2011. 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 2011.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Office of the Chief Actuary.

Insured Status, 1970–2011

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 to full retirement agea
Millions Percentage
permanently
insured
Percentage
fully
insured
Millions Percentage
insured for
disability
1970 134.9 50 78 113.8 63
1975 147.1 51 81 123.6 66
1980 161.6 53 83 135.1 70
1985 174.8 58 84 145.4 72
1990 185.8 63 86 153.6 75
1995 195.9 66 87 161.3 76
2000 206.6 68 87 170.8 78
2005 218.2 69 88 181.8 78
2010 231.4 69 87 192.7 77
2011 233.9 70 87 191.3 78
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 who have reached full retirement age.

Insured Status, by Sex, 1970 and 2011

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 90% fully insured and 80% insured for disability. By contrast, the proportion of women who are insured has increased dramatically—from 63% to 85% fully insured and from 41% to 73% 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 full retirement age.

New Benefit Awards, 2011

Benefits were awarded to about 5.6 million persons; of those, 46% were retired workers and 18% were disabled workers. The remaining 36% 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 5,567 100
Retired workers and dependents 3,076 55
Workers 2,578 46
Spouses and children 498 9
Disabled workers and dependents 1,605 28
Workers 999 18
Spouses and children 606 11
Survivors of deceased workers 886 16
 
New awards, 2011
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, 1971–2011

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 1971 to 2011 is 1.6% for retired workers and 2.2% for disabled workers. The annual number of awards to retired workers rose from 1.4 million in 1971 to 2.6 million in 2011, while for disabled workers it increased from 416,000 in 1971 to 1.0 million in 2011.

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 2011

More than 55 million beneficiaries were in current-payment status, that is, they were being paid a benefit. Sixty-four percent of those beneficiaries were retired workers and 15% were disabled workers. The remaining 21% were survivors or the spouses and children of retired or disabled workers.

Beneficiaries in current-payment status
Beneficiary Number
(thousands)
Percent
Total 55,404 100
Retired workers and dependents 38,486 69
Workers 35,600 64
Spouses and children 2,886 5
Disabled workers and dependents 10,613 19
Workers 8,576 15
Spouses and children 2,038 4
Survivors of deceased workers 6,305 11
 
Beneficiaries, by type
Pie chart illustrating the Percent data from the previous table. In addition, showing that 9% 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, 2011

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
Retired workers 1,241 1,229
Spouses 463 607
Children 562 603
Disabled workers 1,189 1,111
Spouses 306 299
Children 306 330
Survivors of deceased workers
Nondisabled widow(er)s 951 1,185
Disabled widow(er)s 682 704
Widowed mothers and fathers 848 884
Surviving children 779 783
Parents 1,034 1,045
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

Beneficiaries, by Age, December 2011

About four-fifths of all OASDI beneficiaries in current-payment status were aged 62 or older, including 22 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 10% were aged 62-64.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

Disabled and Retired Workers, by Age, 1960–2011

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 2011, it had risen to 53.0. By contrast, the average age of retired workers has changed little over time, rising from 72.4 in 1960 to 73.7 in 2011.

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 2011

Of all adults receiving monthly Social Security benefits, 44% were men and 56% were women. Seventy-nine percent of the men and 62% of the women received retired-worker benefits. About one-sixth of the women received survivor benefits.

Adult beneficiaries, by type of beneficiary and sex
One pie chart for Men and one pie chart for Women described in the text. In addition, 20% of the men and 14% of the women received disabled-worker benefits and 8% of the women received benefits as spouses of retired and disabled workers.
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 2011

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
Workers
Retired 1,381 1,072
Disabled 1,237 972
Spouses of—
Retired workers 398 613
Disabled workers 257 300
Survivors of deceased workers
Nondisabled widow(er)s 1,028 1,188
Disabled widow(er)s 515 714
Mothers and fathers 756 894
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

Women Beneficiaries, 1940–2011

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 2011. 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 48% in 2011.

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, 1960–2011

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 25% in 2011. 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 27% in 2011.

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 close to 40% over this period, slowly rising in recent years to 48% in 2011.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 10 percent sample for 1993–2005 and 100 percent data for all other years.

Child Beneficiaries, December 2011

Nearly 3.4 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 $524.

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.

Number of Recipients, 1974–2011

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 2011, the number of recipients was about 8.1 million. Of this total, almost 4.8 million were between the ages of 18 and 64, 2.1 million were aged 65 or older, and 1.3 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 2011

The average monthly federally administered SSI payment was $502. Payments varied by age group, ranging from an average of $601 for recipients aged under 18 to $403 for those aged 65 or older. The maximum federal benefit rate in December 2011 was $674 for an individual and $1,011 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 $517.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.
NOTE: Amounts exclude retroactive payments.

Federally Administered Payments, December 2011

A total of 8.1 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 2011, 71% of the 8.1 million SSI recipients received only a federal SSI payment, 26% received federally administered state supplementation along with their federal SSI payment, and 3% 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 2011

Fifteen percent of SSI recipients received benefits on the basis of age, the rest on the basis of disability. Twenty-five 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 2011 of SSI recipients by basis for eligibility: 85% are disabled, 15% are aged, and 1% are blind. The second pie chart shows the same group distributed by age: 16% are under 18, 59% are aged 18–64, and 25% are 65 or older.
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record (Characteristic Record Extract format), 100 percent data.
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Percentage Distribution of Recipients, by Age, 1974–2011

The proportion of SSI recipients aged 65 or older has declined from 61% in January 1974 to 25% in December 2011. 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 2011

Overall, 54% of the approximately 8.1 million SSI recipients were women, but that percentage varied greatly by age group. Women accounted for 68% of the 2.1 million recipients aged 65 or older, 54% of the 4.8 million recipients aged 18–64, and 34% of the 1.3 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.
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Other Income, December 2011

Over fifty-six percent of SSI recipients aged 65 or older received OASDI benefits, as did 31.3% of those aged 18–64 and 7.6% of those under age 18. Other types of unearned income, such as income from assets, were reported most frequently among those under age 18 (20.3%) and those aged 65 or older (11.6%). Earned income was most prevalent (4.8%) 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.

Child Recipients, 1974–2011

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 1,277,122. 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 2011, blind and disabled children were receiving SSI payments averaging $601.

Number of children under age 18 receiving SSI
Line chart linked to data in table format.
Average monthly SSI payment to children under age 18 a
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.

All Beneficiaries, December 2011

About 60.4 million people received a payment from Social Security. Most (52.3 million) received OASDI benefits only, about 5.4 million received SSI only, and 2.7 million received payments from both programs.

Beneficiaries receiving OASDI, SSI, or both
Benefit Number
(thousands)
Total (unduplicated) 60,384
OASDI 55,012
OASDI only 52,271
SSI 8,113
SSI only 5,372
Both OASDI and SSI 2,741
 
Distribution of all beneficiaries
Pie chart. Of the 60.8 million beneficiaries in December 2011, 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: OASDI beneficiaries who are entitled to both a primary and a secondary benefit (dual entitlement) are counted only once. 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 2011

Benefits were paid to 39.1 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) 39,113  
OASDI
Total 38,213  
Retired workers 32,149  
Disabled workers 405  
Spouses 2,051  
Widow(er)s 3,530 a
Disabled adult children 79  
OASDI only 37,054  
SSI
Total 2,059 b
Receiving SSI only 900  
Receiving both OASDI and SSI 1,159  
 
Distribution of beneficiaries aged 65 or older,
by program
Pie chart. Of the 39.1 million beneficiaries aged 65 or older in December 2011, 95% 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: OASDI beneficiaries who are entitled to both a primary and a secondary benefit (dual entitlement) are counted only once. 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 876,500 SSI beneficiaries aged 65 or older who are disabled or blind.

Disabled Beneficiaries Aged 18–64, December 2011

Payments were made to 12.4 million people aged 18–64 on the basis of their own disability. Sixty-two percent received disability payments from the OASDI program only, 27% received payments from the SSI program only, and 11% received payments from both programs.

Disabled beneficiaries aged 18–64 receiving OASDI, SSI, or both
Beneficiary Number
(thousands)
Total (unduplicated) 12,449
OASDI disability
Total 9,075
Workers aged 64 or younger 8,171
Disabled adult children 791
Widow(er)s 113
OASDI disability only 7,672
SSI disability
Total 4,777
Receiving SSI disability only 3,374
Receiving both OASDI and SSI disability 1,403
 
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.
NOTES: OASDI beneficiaries who are entitled to both a primary and a secondary benefit (dual entitlement) are counted only once. SSI includes federal SSI payments and federally administered state supplementation.

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 2011, the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds collected $805.1 billion in revenues. Of that amount, 82.8% was from payroll tax contributions and reimbursements from the General Fund of the Treasury and 3.0% was from income taxes on Social Security benefits. Interest earned on the government bonds held by the trust funds provided the remaining 14.2% of income. Assets increased in 2011 because total income exceeded expenditures for benefit payments and administrative expenses.

Sources and uses of Social Security revenues in 2011
Two pie charts showing the sources and uses of the $805.1 billion in revenue collected by the Social Security trust funds in 2011. The Sources of Revenues pie has three slices. Payroll taxes: 82.8%. Interest: 14.2%. Taxation of benefits: 3.0%. The Uses of Revenues pie has four slices. Benefit payments: 90.1%. Increase in trust funds: 8.6%. Administrative expenses: 0.8%. Railroad Retirement financial interchange: 0.6%.
SOURCE: 2012 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 2012 Trustees Report projects that the number of retired workers will grow rapidly, as members of the post–World War II baby boom continue to reach early retirement age, and will double in fewer than 30 years. People are also living longer, and the birth rate is low. As a result, the Trustees project that the ratio of 2.9 workers paying Social Security taxes to each person collecting benefits in 2011 will fall to 2.0 to 1 in 2034. Tax and other noninterest income was not enough to cover program cost in 2010 and 2011, and the 2012 Trustees Report projects that this pattern will continue for at least 75 years. However, the Trustees also project that redemption of trust fund assets will be sufficient to allow for full payment of scheduled benefits through 2032.

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 2032. Thereafter, it continues to decline by one-tenth of a percentage point approximately every 15 years, arriving in 2086 at only 1.9 workers per beneficiary.
SOURCE: 2012 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. Beginning in 2010 and continuing in 2011, the program paid more in benefits and expenses than it collected in taxes and other noninterest income, and the 2012 Trustees Report projects this pattern to continue for the next 75 years. The Trustees estimate that the trust funds will be exhausted by 2033. At that point, payroll taxes and other income will flow into the fund but will be sufficient to pay only 75% of program costs. As reported in the 2012 Trustees Report, the projected shortfall over the next 75 years is 2.67% 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 2012 to 2087. The trust fund balance is about -0.93 percent of taxable payroll in 2012. After a brief upturn, the trust fund balance is projected to decline rapidly. Costs will continue to exceed income and the trust fund will become insolvent in 2033. Annual trust fund balances are projected to range between -3.79 and -4.54 percent of taxable payroll from 2034 to 2087.
SOURCE: 2012 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds, Table IV.B1.

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