Countdown: Top Ten Facts About Social Security

August 9, 2010 at 3:19 pm

The Social Security program turns 75 this Saturday. Each day this week, we’ll highlight two key facts about the program and its accomplishments since President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Act on August 14, 1935.

Here are our first two:

  • Social Security is more than just a retirement program. It provides important life insurance and disability insurance protection as well. In June 2010, 53.4 million people, or about one in every six U.S. residents, collected Social Security benefits. While three-quarters of them received benefits from the programs for retirees and elderly widow(er)s, another 10.0 million (19 percent) received disability insurance benefits, and 2.3 million (4 percent) received benefits as young survivors of deceased workers. The risk of disability or premature death is greater than many people realize. A recent analysis by the Social Security actuaries estimates that almost four in ten men entering the labor force, and three in ten women, will become disabled or die before reaching the full retirement age.
  • Children have an important stake in Social Security. About 6 million children under age 18 (8 percent of all U.S. children) lived in families that received income from Social Security in 2008. That number included over 3 million children who received their own benefits as dependents of retired, disabled, or deceased workers, as well as others who lived with parents or relatives who received Social Security benefits. In all, Social Security lifted 1.1 million children out of poverty in 2008 (we’ll have a report on this later this week).

Stay tuned for posts on this all week and a report summing up the top ten facts.

UPDATE:   View the rest of the Countdown:  Day Four | Day Three | Day Two

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More About Kathy Ruffing

Kathy Ruffing

Kathy Ruffing is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, specializing in federal budget issues.

Full bio | Blog Archive | Research archive at

1 Comments Add Yours ↓

Comments are listed in reverse chronological order.

  1. 1

    Social Security needs a 2.0 Version.
    The main points of the new system:

    – Break the Cap on Wages and Income now set at $117k, this is fair to both the payers and the recipients, often the same person

    – Create a Social Security Vocational Training Portal to pass skills and intellectual capital from one generation of workers to the next. At age 65,
    those training new workers would get a 5 year tax break on taxation of benefits

    – Replace the assets of the Trust Fund with Treasuries and U.S. Agency obligations, largely absorbing most of the national debt

    – Create a counter-cyclical fund – a Black Swan Fund – as a storm break for new economic crises, funding long term unemployment, SSI, Medicare and Survivor Benefits

    – After 18 years, convert Social Security to a true defined benefit plan with vesting for participants – conditions permitting

    My complete analysis is available and shows how these reforms will accumulate $19 Trillion and leave $11.5 Trillion after 18 years.

    : Document “Social Security – Turning Crisis into Opportunity”

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