MARQUETTE - This year, more than 54 million Americans will receive a share of $730 billion paid in Social Security benefits, according to the Social Security Administration.
With a lot of current political focus on Social Security, and the debate over whether changes should be made to the system and what those might entail, some statistics provided by the government about the benefit should prove helpful for those hoping to learn more.
Social Security is financed through a dedicated payroll tax. Employers and employees each pay 6.2 percent of wages up to the taxable maximum of $106,800 (in 2011), while the self-employed pay 12.4 percent. The payroll tax rates are set by law.
In beneficiary data from December, 35 million retired workers received a total of $40.7 billion, with an average monthly benefit of $1,175. Dependents of those retirees, which numbered 2.9 million, received a total of $1.7 billion.
Eight million disabled workers were paid an average monthly benefit of $1,068, with a total paid out of $8.8 billion.
Survivors numbered 6.4 million. They received an average monthly benefit of $1,134. The total paid to them was $6.3 billion.
Some facts the Social Security Admininstration recently published include:
- Social Security is the major source of income for most of the elderly.
- Nine out of 10 individuals age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits.
- Social Security benefits represent about 41 percent of the income of the elderly.
- Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 54 percent of married couples and 73 percent of unmarried persons receive 50 percent or more of their income from Social Security.
- Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 22 percent of married couples and about 43 percent of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.
- Social Security provides more than just retirement benefits.
- Sixty-seven percent of the private sector workforce has no long-term disability insurance.
- Survivors of deceased workers account for about 12 percent of total benefits paid.
- About one in eight of today's 20-year-olds will die before reaching age 67.
- About 97 percent of persons aged 20-49 who worked in covered employment in 2009 have survivor's insurance protection for their young children and the surviving spouse caring for the children.
- Retired workers and their dependents account for 69 percent of total benefits paid.
- Disabled workers and their dependents account for 19 percent of total benefits paid.
- About 91 percent of workers age 21-64 in covered employment in 2009 and their families have protection in the event of a long-term disability.
- Just over 1 in 4 of today's 20 year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67.
- An estimated 158 million workers, 94 percent of all workers, are covered under Social Security.
- Fifty percent of the workforce has no private pension coverage.
- Thirty-one percent of the workforce has no savings set aside specifically for retirement.
- In 1935, the life expectancy of a 65-year-old was about 12.5 years, today it's 18 years.
- By 2041, there will be almost twice as many older Americans as today from 41.6 million today to 79.1 million.
- There are currently 2.9 workers for each Social Security beneficiary. By 2041, there will be 2.1 workers for each beneficiary.
For more information on Social Security, visit the Social Security Administration website at: www.ssa.gov
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.