Social Security Facts and Figures

September 10, 2012

Guest blogger, GPO Public Relations Specialist Emma Wojtowicz, reviews a new publication giving the “Fast Facts & Figures” about the U.S. Social Security System.

The Federal Government offers many publications to educate and inform the public. If there is a topic that interests you or that you want to learn more about, Government publications are a great resource. Not all publications are long, dense and written as legal briefs.

Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2011 is a 36-page booklet that accomplishes what the title suggests – providing readers with fast facts and figures about Social Security.

Social Security is always a hot topic with election-year fact checkers, and this annual publication does a good job breaking down the information so the reader can understand and better grasp this important topic.

The introduction describes the publication as a “chartbook” which it is with at least one chart, graph, or table on each page. This is a smart way to present the information because it allows the reader to gain a lot of knowledge from just scanning each page.

Like most Government-related publications there are many acronyms that readers are not familiar with, luckily, this publication includes a list of abbreviations and acronyms on the second page which is helpful for understanding the content, such as OASI which stands for Old-Age and Survivors Insurance.

The data focuses on Social Security programs for retired workers and their dependents, disabled workers and their dependents, and survivors of a deceased worker, which benefits or assists over 59.2 million Americans.

Here are some of noteworthy Social Security facts and figures for 2011:

  • Of all adults receiving monthly Social Security benefits, 44% are men and 56% are women.
  • The recipients of Social Security benefits are  64% retired workers, 15% disabled workers, 12% survivors of decreased workers, and 9% dependents of a retired or disabled worker.
  • The average Social Security benefit for a worker who retires at full retirement age is $1,176 per month, and the maximum Social Security benefit a worker who retired at full retirement age can receive is $2,366 per month.
  • The average Social Security benefit for the children of a deceased worker is $750 per month.
  • Social Security is financed from three sources: 82% from payroll taxes, 15% from interest earned on Government bonds held by trust funds, and 3% from income taxes on Social Security benefits.
  • For 73% of single elderly (nonmarried aged) beneficiaries (and 54% of elderly couples receiving benefits) in 2011, Social Security provided at least 50% of their total income. Social Security benefits make up over 90% of the total income for 43% of single elderly recipients (and 22% of elderly couples), making Social Security benefits a critical source of monthly income for them to live on (See image below).

Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2011”?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s US Government Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

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