Published: November 8, 2022
Our selection of Social Security statistics will help you learn more about one of the most important government-run programs that provide income once you’ve retired or can no longer work due to disability.
Since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935, the program has helped many of its citizens rise above the poverty lines and worry less about their financial situation.
If you want to learn more, read on.
Top 10 Social Security Stats and Facts
- Over 65 million people collected benefits from Social Security in January 2022.
- The average Social Security retirement benefit was $1,614 in January 2022.
- California receives the most SS benefits out of all US countries.
- SS benefits keep pace with inflation.
- The Social Security program started in 1935 with Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- Most Social Security fraud is committed online.
- Social Security lifts more people above the poverty line than any other program.
- Social Security outlays amounted to $1.12 trillion in 2021.
- Late-arriving immigrants and infrequent workers make up 86% of never-beneficiaries.
- Social Security provides the basis for retirement protection for nearly all US citizens.
General Social Security Statistics
Read on to learn more general facts and statistics about this instrumental government program, including the average monthly benefits, the state that receives the most benefits, etc.
1. Over 65 million people collected benefits from Social Security in January 2022.
(Source: CBPP SS Facts)
That’s more than one in every six US citizens, out of which four in five beneficiaries are older adults, and another fifth are recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or young survivors of deceased members.
Social Security benefits are based on the earnings (up to a maximum of $147,000 in 2022) on which people pay Social Security Payroll taxes.
It’s typically the employers that are responsible for deducting the tax from the employees’ salaries, and in the US, small businesses employ 47.3% of the total workforce.
2. The average retirement benefit was about $1,614 in January 2022.
It accumulates to about $19,370 annually, whereas disabled workers and aged widows receive slightly less than this.
These monthly payments for retirees are pretty low, which means that, regarding the percentage of an average worker’s earnings replaced by the public pension, the US is almost in the bottom third of the list of developed countries.
3. California receives the most Social Security out of all US states as of January 2022.
(Source: Go Banking Rates)
California, one of the states with the highest average income of $88,702, received a total of $8.66 billion, distributed to 6,150,009 Social Security recipients.
Conversely, Georgia got the least out of the 10 states that received the most, with 1,902,790 recipients dividing $2.65 billion.
4. Social Security’s total reserves will likely be depleted by 2034.
(Source: Pew Research)
After the reserves are exhausted, the system will still benefit from tax revenue. However, this will only cover about 3/4 of the scheduled benefits. If this is the case, it isn’t surprising that a quarter of American adults don’t believe they can retire comfortably.
However, this prediction is expected to happen only if Congress doesn’t change the benefit formulas, raise the payroll tax and make other changes like increasing the taxable income cap.
5. Thanks to COLA, Social Security benefits keep pace with inflation.
(Source: SSA Cost of Living)
COLA (Cost-of-Living Adjustment) is regulated by legislation enacted in 1973, which ensures that Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) increase with inflation.
The latest COLA for December 2022 benefits payable in January 2023 is 8.7%, both for SS benefits and SSI payments.
6. Most Social Security fraud is committed online, Social Security fraud statistics show.
It’s because customers can now claim benefits using mobile apps, electronic facilities, and voice recognition. Notably, 72% of smart speaker owners use their devices daily. As for the penalties, financial punishment for disability fraud may go up to $250,000.
7. Social Security lifts more people above the poverty line than any other program.
(Source: CBPP SS Effectiveness)
Although these are mainly people aged 65 and above, the program also keeps almost 1 million children out of poverty.
Social Security is vital to those with fewer retirement resources, including older women and people of color, according to Social Security recipient statistics.
8. In 2021, Social Security outlays amounted to $1.12 trillion.
This was about 5% of the United States’ overall GDP. A predicted increase in Social Security outlays in 2032 will amount to $2.17 trillion, or 5.9% of the expected GDP.
9. Social Security provides the basis for retirement protection for nearly all US citizens.
Citizens claim rights to Social Security benefits by making payroll tax contributions, and 97% of older adults in the US either receive Social Security or will do so in the future.
Of course, freelancers are not exempt from making the tax contributions, which is especially important if you know that 12% of the US workforce began freelancing for the first time during the pandemic.
Social Security Demographics
Who is eligible to receive Social Security benefits? How many people are insured? These are all the questions we’ll try to answer below, so keep on reading.
10. Spouses and children of deceased workers can claim their SS benefits.
This applies to spouses who are 60 years old or older (or 50 and older and disabled), provided they’ve not remarried.
Children of the deceased worker can claim the benefits if they’re under 18 or disabled.
11. Most disabled workers who received disability benefits suffered from musculoskeletal diseases in 2020.
(Source: SSA Annual Report)
During that year, benefits were paid to more than 9.5 million people. Among disabled children, intellectual impairments were the dominant reason for disability benefits.
12. Late-arriving immigrants and infrequent workers make up 86% of people over 60 who are not eligible for Social Security benefits.
(Source: SSA Population Profile)
One of the saddening facts about social security is that these groups have the highest poverty rates among those who never receive SS benefits.
It should be noted that this only applies to immigrants who arrive to the US after they’re 50 or older, as demonstrated by the fact that immigrant entrepreneurs accounted for 21.7% of all business owners in the US in 2019.
13. Social Security brought 9.5 million elderly women above the poverty line in 2020.
(Source: CBPP SS Effectiveness)
This program is particularly important to women as they take more time away from work and tend to save less.
14. In 2020, about 89% of people aged 21–64 were insured in case of severe disability through Social Security.
(Source: CBPP SS Facts / SSA Actuarial Note)
Social Security vital statistics show that an insured worker born in 2000 has about a 25% chance of becoming disabled between the ages 20 and 65, and in the same period, their chance of dying is 13%.
15. The average monthly benefit of disabled workers is higher than for disabled widow(er)s or disabled adult children of deceased workers.
(Source: SSA Annual Report)
It’s because disabled workers receive 100% of the PIA (Primary Insurance Amount) compared to the 71.5% for disabled widow(er)s between the ages of 50 and 60, and 75% for disabled adult children of deceased workers.
Social Security Historical Facts
The history of Social Security is a fascinating one, as is the development of the program through the decades.
Read on to find more Social Security stats related to the history of the program.
16. The Social Security System started in 1935 with Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The program started on August 14, 1935, with the president signing the Social Security Act. Since then, it has grown to be one of the largest government-run programs in the US.
17. A version of the program existed before Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935.
In 1862 Civil War veterans, as well as their widows and children, could apply for a kind of pension. In 1906, the law was amended to include the elderly.
Furthermore, the first company pension plans were created in 1882, but not many employees received any money from them.
18. The first benefits check was paid out at the beginning of 1940.
One of the most interesting Social Security facts is that the first check was written to Ida May Fuller, and it was made out to the amount of $22.54 (equivalent to $477.86 today). After 35 years of retirement, she received almost 1,000 times what she paid into the system.
19. Eight days after the Social Security program started, over a million workers had Social Security numbers.
To be eligible, workers had to file a request at their local post office. This is the beginning of what we now know as Social Security numbers.
At first, the Social Security program excluded agricultural workers and self-employed professionals, as Social Security facts show.
Well, there you have it! We covered a lot of ground related to one of the most important government-run programs today that helps millions of US citizens daily.
We hope that we have shown you some new and interesting statistics that will help you understand the program better.
What percent of the US population is on Social Security?
As of 2022, around 25% of the US population receives some form of Social Security, divided into three categories: retirees (75.2%), disabled workers (13.1%), and survivors (11.7%).
Has Social Security been a success?
The Social Security program is one of the most successful government-run programs to this day. It has lifted millions out of poverty and has kept income consistent for families after the death of a family member.
How much does Social Security cost the government?
(Source: CBPP Federal Spending)
The available Social Security statistics show that about 21% of the total US budget, or $1.2 trillion, goes towards SS benefits paid monthly to the US population.
This amount goes out to about 49 million retired workers, 6 million spouses and children of deceased workers, 9 million disabled workers, and 3 million spouses and children of retired workers.