Social Security: A Program and Policy History

by Patricia P. Martin and David A. Weaver
Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 66 No. 1, 2005
Table equivalent for Chart 1.A. Combined payroll tax rates
Year Percent
1937 2.00
1938 2.00
1939 2.00
1940 2.00
1941 2.00
1942 2.00
1943 2.00
1944 2.00
1945 2.00
1946 2.00
1947 2.00
1948 2.00
1949 2.00
1950 3.00
1951 3.00
1952 3.00
1953 3.00
1954 4.00
1955 4.00
1956 4.00
1957 4.50
1958 4.50
1959 5.00
1960 6.00
1961 6.00
1962 6.25
1963 7.25
1964 7.25
1965 7.25
1966 7.70
1967 7.80
1968 7.60
1969 8.40
1970 8.40
1971 9.20
1972 9.20
1973 9.70
1974 9.90
1975 9.90
1976 9.90
1977 9.90
1978 10.10
1979 10.16
1980 10.16
1981 10.70
1982 10.80
1983 10.80
1984 11.40
1985 11.40
1986 11.40
1987 11.40
1988 12.12
1989 12.12
1990 12.40
1991 12.40
1992 12.40
1993 12.40
1994 12.40
1995 12.40
1996 12.40
1997 12.40
1998 12.40
1999 12.40
2000 12.40
2001 12.40
2002 12.40
2003 12.40
SOURCE: Based on data from the Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin (SSA 2003, Table 2.A3).
Table equivalent for Chart 1.B. Annual maximum taxable earnings (in dollars)
Year Annual maximum taxable earnings
1937 3,000
1938 3,000
1939 3,000
1940 3,000
1941 3,000
1942 3,000
1943 3,000
1944 3,000
1945 3,000
1946 3,000
1947 3,000
1948 3,000
1949 3,000
1950 3,000
1951 3,600
1952 3,600
1953 3,600
1954 3,600
1955 4,200
1956 4,200
1957 4,200
1958 4,200
1959 4,800
1960 4,800
1961 4,800
1962 4,800
1963 4,800
1964 4,800
1965 4,800
1966 6,600
1967 6,600
1968 7,800
1969 7,800
1970 7,800
1971 7,800
1972 9,000
1973 10,800
1974 13,200
1975 14,100
1976 15,300
1977 16,500
1978 17,700
1979 22,900
1980 25,900
1981 29,700
1982 32,400
1983 35,700
1984 37,800
1985 39,600
1986 42,000
1987 43,800
1988 45,000
1989 48,000
1990 51,300
1991 53,400
1992 55,500
1993 57,600
1994 60,600
1995 61,200
1996 62,700
1997 65,400
1998 68,400
1999 72,600
2000 76,200
2001 80,400
2002 84,900
2003 87,000
SOURCE: Based on data from the Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin (SSA 2003, Table 2.A3).
Table equivalent for Chart 1.C. Percentage increase in Social Security benefits
Year Percent
1937 0
1938 0
1939 0
1940 0
1941 0
1942 0
1943 0
1944 0
1945 0
1946 0
1947 0
1948 0
1949 0
1950 77.0
1951 0
1952 12.5
1953 0
1954 13.0
1955 0
1956 0
1957 0
1958 0
1959 7.0
1960 0
1961 0
1962 0
1963 0
1964 0
1965 7.0
1966 0
1967 0
1968 13.0
1969 0
1970 15.0
1971 10.0
1972 20.0
1973 0
1974 11.0
1975 8.0
1976 6.4
1977 5.9
1978 6.5
1979 9.9
1980 14.3
1981 11.2
1982 7.4
1983 3.5
1984 3.5
1985 3.1
1986 1.3
1987 4.2
1988 4.0
1989 4.7
1990 5.4
1991 3.7
1992 3.0
1993 2.6
1994 2.8
1995 2.6
1996 2.9
1997 2.1
1998 1.3
1999 2.5
2000 3.5
2001 2.6
2002 1.4
2003 2.1
SOURCE: Based on data from the Congressional Research Service (2000).
Table equivalent for Chart 1.D. Percentage of civilian workers covered by Social Security
Year Percent
1939 55.1
1940 51.9
1941 56.0
1942 57.5
1943 58.7
1944 58.6
1946 57.2
1947 58.6
1949 58.4
1950 60.5
1951 73.7
1952 75.6
1953 76.1
1954 75.2
1955 80.5
1956 84.0
1957 84.6
1958 84.8
1959 85.2
1960 86.2
1961 85.9
1962 86.3
1963 86.5
1964 86.7
1965 87.6
1966 88.2
1967 88.3
1968 88.4
1969 87.9
1970 89.9
1971 90.1
1972 90.4
1973 90.6
1974 90.5
1975 90.6
1976 90.9
1977 91.0
1978 91.2
1979 91.3
1980 90.3
1981 91.1
1982 91.4
1983 91.6
1984 92.7
1985 92.9
1986 94.6
1987 94.9
1988 95.0
1989 95.2
1990 94.8
1991 94.9
1992 95.1
1993 95.3
1994 95.6
1995 95.6
1996 95.7
1997 95.9
1998 96.0
1999 96.0
2000 96.0
2001 96.0
2002 96.0
SOURCE: Based on various editions of the Green Book and Social Security publications.
Table equivalent for Chart 1.E. Labor force participation rates for persons aged 65 and older
Year Percent
1948 27.0
1949 27.3
1950 26.7
1951 25.8
1952 24.8
1953 24.8
1954 23.9
1955 24.1
1956 24.3
1957 22.9
1958 21.8
1959 21.1
1960 20.8
1961 20.1
1962 19.1
1963 17.9
1964 18.0
1965 17.8
1966 17.2
1967 17.2
1968 17.2
1969 17.3
1970 17.0
1971 16.2
1972 15.6
1973 14.6
1974 14.0
1975 13.7
1976 13.1
1977 13.0
1978 13.3
1979 13.1
1980 12.5
1981 12.2
1982 11.9
1983 11.7
1984 11.1
1985 10.8
1986 10.9
1987 11.1
1988 11.5
1989 11.8
1990 11.8
1991 11.5
1992 11.5
1993 11.2
1994 12.4
1995 12.1
1996 12.1
1997 12.2
1998 11.9
1999 12.3
2000 12.9
2001 13.0
2002 13.2
2003 14.0
SOURCE: Based on unpublished data from the Current Population Survey (Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Table equivalent for Chart 1.F. Labor force participation rates for persons aged 20–64
Year Percent
1948 63.5
1949 63.7
1950 64.3
1951 64.6
1952 64.7
1953 64.9
1954 65.1
1955 65.8
1956 66.5
1957 66.5
1958 66.8
1959 66.9
1960 67.2
1961 67.4
1962 67.3
1963 67.7
1964 67.9
1965 68.1
1966 68.4
1967 68.9
1968 69.0
1969 69.4
1970 69.8
1971 69.7
1972 69.9
1973 70.3
1974 70.9
1975 71.1
1976 71.7
1977 72.4
1978 73.4
1979 74.1
1980 74.5
1981 74.9
1982 75.2
1983 75.4
1984 75.9
1985 76.6
1986 77.1
1987 77.7
1988 78.0
1989 78.7
1990 78.8
1991 78.6
1992 79.0
1993 78.9
1994 79.0
1995 79.1
1996 79.5
1997 79.9
1998 79.8
1999 79.8
2000 79.7
2001 79.4
2002 79.2
2003 78.8
SOURCE: Based on unpublished data from the Current Population Survey (Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Table equivalent for Chart 1.G. Total fertility rates
Year Rate
1940 2.23
1941 2.33
1942 2.55
1943 2.64
1944 2.49
1945 2.42
1946 2.86
1947 3.18
1948 3.03
1949 3.04
1950 3.03
1951 3.20
1952 3.29
1953 3.35
1954 3.46
1955 3.50
1956 3.60
1957 3.68
1958 3.63
1959 3.64
1960 3.61
1961 3.56
1962 3.42
1963 3.30
1964 3.17
1965 2.88
1966 2.67
1967 2.53
1968 2.43
1969 2.42
1970 2.43
1971 2.25
1972 1.99
1973 1.86
1974 1.82
1975 1.77
1976 1.74
1977 1.80
1978 1.76
1979 1.82
1980 1.82
1981 1.80
1982 1.81
1983 1.78
1984 1.79
1985 1.84
1986 1.83
1987 1.86
1988 1.92
1989 2.00
1990 2.07
1991 2.06
1992 2.04
1993 2.02
1994 2.00
1995 1.98
1996 1.98
1997 1.97
1998 2.00
1999 2.01
2000 2.06
2001 2.03
2002 2.01
2003 2.02
SOURCE: Based on data from the 2004 OASDI Trustees Report (Board of Trustees 2004, Tables V.A1 and V.A4).
Table equivalent for Chart 1.H. Life expectancy of average 65-year-old men and women (in years)
Year Male Female
1940 12.7 14.7
1941 12.8 14.9
1942 12.8 15.0
1943 12.9 15.1
1944 12.9 15.3
1945 13.0 15.4
1946 13.0 15.6
1947 13.0 15.7
1948 13.1 15.9
1949 13.1 16.0
1950 13.1 16.2
1951 13.1 16.3
1952 13.1 16.4
1953 13.1 16.5
1954 13.1 16.6
1955 13.1 16.7
1956 13.1 16.9
1957 13.2 17.0
1958 13.2 17.2
1959 13.2 17.3
1960 13.2 17.4
1961 13.3 17.6
1962 13.3 17.7
1963 13.4 17.8
1964 13.4 17.9
1965 13.5 18.0
1966 13.5 18.2
1967 13.6 18.3
1968 13.7 18.4
1969 13.7 18.5
1970 13.8 18.5
1971 13.9 18.6
1972 14.0 18.6
1973 14.1 18.7
1974 14.1 18.7
1975 14.2 18.7
1976 14.3 18.7
1977 14.4 18.7
1978 14.5 18.7
1979 14.6 18.7
1980 14.7 18.7
1981 14.8 18.8
1982 14.9 18.8
1983 15.0 18.8
1984 15.1 18.8
1985 15.2 18.8
1986 15.3 18.8
1987 15.3 18.9
1988 15.4 18.9
1989 15.5 18.9
1990 15.6 19.0
1991 15.7 19.0
1992 15.8 19.0
1993 15.9 19.1
1994 16.0 19.1
1995 16.0 19.1
1996 16.1 19.2
1997 16.2 19.2
1998 16.3 19.3
1999 16.4 19.3
2000 16.5 19.4
2001 16.6 19.4
2002 16.6 19.5
2003 16.7 19.5
SOURCE: Based on data from the 2004 OASDI Trustees Report (Board of Trustees 2004, Tables V.A1 and V.A4).
Table equivalent for Chart 2. Program costs as a percentage of gross domestic product, 1937–2003
Year Percent
1937 0
1938 0
1939 0
1940 0.10
1941 0.08
1942 0.12
1943 0.10
1944 0.09
1945 0.13
1946 0.18
1947 0.20
1948 0.22
1949 0.26
1950 0.34
1951 0.59
1952 0.64
1953 0.82
1954 0.97
1955 1.23
1956 1.33
1957 1.65
1958 1.90
1959 2.13
1960 2.24
1961 2.46
1962 2.60
1963 2.62
1964 2.56
1965 2.67
1966 2.65
1967 2.70
1968 2.86
1969 2.83
1970 3.19
1971 3.42
1972 3.50
1973 3.84
1974 4.04
1975 4.22
1976 4.28
1977 4.30
1978 4.18
1979 4.19
1980 4.43
1981 4.62
1982 4.92
1983 4.84
1984 4.59
1985 4.52
1986 4.52
1987 4.41
1988 4.36
1989 4.31
1990 4.36
1991 4.57
1992 4.61
1993 4.64
1994 4.57
1995 4.59
1996 4.52
1997 4.44
1998 4.37
1999 4.24
2000 4.23
2001 4.33
2002 4.40
2003 4.35
SOURCES: Calculations are based on data from the 2004 OASDI Trustees Report (Board of Trustees 2004, Tables VI.A2 and VI.A4) and on historical data on GDP from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Table equivalent for Chart 3. Beneficiary population as a percentage of the total U.S. population, by type of beneficiary, 1945–2000
All beneficiaries Retirees and dependents Disabled and dependents
1945 0.79 0.79 . . .
1950 1.93 1.93 . . .
1955 4.58 4.58 . . .
1960 7.89 7.60 0.29
1965 10.37 9.53 0.85
1970 12.28 11.03 1.25
1975 14.41 12.50 1.91
1980 15.46 13.37 2.08
1985 15.40 13.78 1.63
1990 15.81 14.13 1.68
1995 16.19 14.04 2.15
2000 16.00 13.66 2.34
SOURCES: Calculations are based on data from the 2004 OASDI Trustees Report (Board of Trustees 2004, Table IV.B2) and from the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003 (Census 2004, Table No. HS-3).
NOTE: . . . = not applicable.
Table equivalent for Chart 4. Poverty rates of various age groups, 1959–2003
Year Under 18 18 to 64 65 or older
1959 27.3 17.0 35.2
1966 17.6 10.5 28.5
1967 16.6 10.0 29.5
1968 15.6 9.0 25.0
1969 14.0 8.7 25.3
1970 15.1 9.0 24.6
1971 15.3 9.3 21.6
1972 15.1 8.8 18.6
1973 14.4 8.3 16.3
1974 15.4 8.3 14.6
1975 17.1 9.2 15.3
1976 16.0 9.0 15.0
1977 16.2 8.8 14.1
1978 15.9 8.7 14.0
1979 16.4 8.9 15.2
1980 18.3 10.1 15.7
1981 20.0 11.1 15.3
1982 21.9 12.0 14.6
1983 22.3 12.4 13.8
1984 21.5 11.7 12.4
1985 20.7 11.3 12.6
1986 20.5 10.8 12.4
1987 20.3 10.6 12.5
1988 19.5 10.5 12.0
1989 19.6 10.2 11.4
1990 20.6 10.7 12.2
1991 21.8 11.4 12.4
1992 22.3 11.9 12.9
1993 22.7 12.4 12.2
1994 21.8 11.9 11.7
1995 20.8 11.4 10.5
1996 20.5 11.4 10.8
1997 19.9 10.9 10.5
1998 18.9 10.5 10.5
1999 17.1 10.1 9.7
2000 16.2 9.6 9.9
2001 16.3 10.1 10.1
2002 16.7 10.6 10.4
2003 17.6 10.8 10.2
SOURCE: Data are from historical poverty tables from the Census Bureau (2005).
NOTE: Poverty rates are for March of the following year. Rates from 1960 to 1965 are not shown because they are not available for all age groups in those years.
Table equivalent for Chart 5. Replacement rates for scaled workers retiring at age 65, by type of earner, 1940–2003
Year Low Earner Medium earner High earner Maximum earner
1940 27.9 23.4 17.3 16.4
1941 28.8 22.8 17.0 15.8
1942 28.1 21.9 16.4 15.0
1943 26.5 19.9 14.9 13.2
1944 24.6 17.5 13.3 11.3
1945 23.8 16.1 12.3 10.1
1946 24.7 15.9 12.3 9.8
1947 27.9 17.5 13.6 10.6
1948 26.1 15.7 12.3 9.3
1949 25.4 15.0 11.8 8.6
1950 31.7 18.6 14.1 9.7
1951 45.5 26.3 18.9 12.4
1952 43.9 25.2 18.2 11.8
1953 45.4 26.4 20.4 13.4
1954 45.8 26.6 21.0 13.5
1955 49.8 29.0 23.6 15.0
1956 48.3 28.2 23.0 15.0
1957 45.7 26.9 22.1 14.5
1958 44.8 26.9 22.8 15.0
1959 47.9 29.1 24.8 16.2
1960 46.3 28.3 24.1 16.1
1961 42.6 27.9 23.9 15.9
1962 42.4 27.9 23.9 16.0
1963 41.0 27.1 23.4 15.7
1964 40.6 27.0 23.5 15.7
1965 42.4 28.3 24.5 16.5
1966 42.3 28.4 24.5 16.6
1967 40.5 27.3 23.6 16.4
1968 43.5 29.5 25.8 18.0
1969 41.7 28.4 25.0 17.8
1970 46.0 31.7 28.0 20.3
1971 48.8 33.8 30.4 22.1
1972 50.3 35.3 31.8 23.3
1973 63.6 37.1 33.7 25.1
1974 62.7 38.7 35.4 26.9
1975 59.8 40.2 37.0 28.7
1976 57.4 41.3 38.6 31.0
1977 58.3 42.6 40.2 33.3
1978 60.6 44.2 42.6 35.7
1979 62.3 45.7 44.6 37.5
1980 66.0 48.6 47.7 40.6
1981 69.6 51.7 50.5 43.8
1982 66.5 48.9 46.7 39.6
1983 63.5 46.4 43.6 38.0
1984 62.6 43.5 40.7 36.0
1985 61.1 41.5 38.8 34.7
1986 60.3 41.9 39.0 35.0
1987 59.5 42.0 38.9 35.0
1988 58.4 41.5 38.3 34.4
1989 57.9 42.1 38.7 34.6
1990 58.4 43.5 39.9 35.7
1991 58.6 43.1 39.4 35.0
1992 58.9 43.8 39.8 35.2
1993 57.7 42.8 38.7 34.0
1994 58.3 42.8 38.5 33.6
1995 58.4 43.2 38.5 33.5
1996 57.9 42.9 38.0 32.9
1997 58.1 43.1 37.8 32.7
1998 55.0 40.8 35.6 30.7
1999 53.1 39.4 34.1 29.3
2000 52.2 38.7 33.3 28.6
2001 52.5 39.0 33.3 28.5
2002 55.0 40.8 34.6 29.5
2003 56.6 42.0 35.4 30.1
SOURCE: Tabulations were done by the Office of the Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration.
NOTE: "Scaled workers" refer to hypothetical workers, developed by SSA's Office of the Chief Actuary, with earnings levels that reflect the average patterns of work and earnings of actual insured workers during their careers.
Table equivalent for Chart 6. Historical trust fund ratios of assets to expenditures, 1940–2002
Year Ratio
1940 32.76
1941 24.23
1942 23.19
1943 24.72
1944 25.23
1945 23.42
1946 19.50
1947 18.28
1948 17.66
1949 16.39
1950 13.43
1951 7.90
1952 7.64
1953 6.05
1954 5.50
1955 4.27
1956 3.86
1957 3.05
1958 2.61
1959 2.04
1960 1.92
1961 1.66
1962 1.37
1963 1.28
1964 1.24
1965 1.03
1966 1.07
1967 1.17
1968 1.10
1969 1.23
1970 1.15
1971 1.05
1972 0.99
1973 0.84
1974 0.76
1975 0.64
1976 0.53
1977 0.41
1978 0.33
1979 0.28
1980 0.21
1981 0.17
1982 0.15
1983 0.15
1984 0.17
1985 0.22
1986 0.23
1987 0.33
1988 0.49
1989 0.69
1990 0.89
1991 1.02
1992 1.14
1993 1.23
1994 1.35
1995 1.46
1996 1.60
1997 1.78
1998 1.99
1999 2.28
2000 2.53
2001 2.76
2002 2.98
SOURCE: Data are from the Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin (SSA 1985, Table 14, 2003, Tables 4.A1 and 4.A3).
NOTE: Ratios are trust fund assets at the end of the year divided by expenditures during the year.