Social Security Policy Basics: 5 Facts about Social Security

Social Security Disability Income provides the resource of income which thousands of workers in the US use to plan their lives after retirement.

Since 84 years, when President Roosevelt started the program, the SSDI has been remarkable in providing source of income in a need-based manner.

Fact #1 : Social Security is not just a retirement program

It provides disability benefits to everyone who has disability credits and fits the criteria. About 62 million people, or more than 1 in every 6 U.S. residents, collect Social Security Income benefits each year. While older Americans make up about 4 in 5 beneficiaries, another one-fifth of beneficiaries received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or were young survivors of deceased workers.

In addition to Social Security’s retirement benefits, workers earn life insurance and SSDI protection by making Social Security payroll tax contributions:

  • About 95 percent of people aged 20-49 who worked in jobs covered by Social Security in 2019 have earned life insurance protection through Social Security.
  • For a young worker with average earnings, a spouse, and two children, that’s equivalent to a life insurance policy with a face value of over $725,000 in 2019, according to Social Security’s actuary.
  • About 89 percent of people in age group between 21-64, having sufficient disability benefits are insured through Social Security in case of severe disability.

The risk of disability or premature death is greater than many realize. Some 6 percent of recent entrants to the labor force will die before reaching the full retirement age, and many more will become disabled.

Fact #2 : Social Security benefits increase with inflation

Social Security benefits are based on the earnings on which you pay Social Security payroll taxes. The higher your earnings (up to a maximum taxable amount, currently $132,900), the higher your benefit.

Social Security benefits are progressive: they only take into account the higher proportions of a worker’s earnings for all 35 years he performed any kind of work to earn. For example, benefits for a low earner (with 45 percent of the average wage) retiring at age 66 in 2019 replace about half of his or her prior earnings. But benefits for a high earner (with 160 percent of the average wage) replace about one-third of prior earnings, though they are larger in dollar terms than those for the low-wage worker.

Also, many private annuities and businesses do not account for increase in market prices or inflation. Social security, on the other hand accounts for inflation by adjusting the amounts with respect to COLA. This helps to ensure that the people do not fall into poverty.

Fact #3 : Provides a foundation for retirement protection

According to Social Security Administration estimates, almost 97% of the elderly will receive Social Security benefits at some point in their lives. This is possible because almost all workers in the US are subject to Social security taxes on their payrolls either independently or through an employer.

Social Security provides a foundation of retirement protection for people at all earnings levels. It encourages private pensions and personal saving because it isn’t means-tested — in other words, it doesn’t reduce or deny benefits to people whose income or assets exceed a certain level.

Fact #4 : Most elderly rely on Social Security for most part of their income

Without Social Security benefits, about 4 in 10 Americans aged 65 and older would have incomes below the poverty line, all else being equal, according to official estimates based on a recent Population Survey. Social Security benefits lift more than 15 million elderly Americans out of poverty, the study showed.

recent study that matches Census estimates to administrative data suggests that the official estimates overstate elderly reliance on Social Security. That study finds that in 2012, 3 in 10 elderly Americans would be poor without Social Security, and that the program lifted more than 10 million elderly Americans out of poverty.

No matter how it is measured, however, it’s clear that Social Security brings millions of elderly Americans out of poverty and dramatically reduces the elderly poverty rate.

Fact #5 : Social Security is especially beneficial for women

Social Security is especially important for women, because women are often paid less than their male counterparts, spend more time out of workforce due to maternity and other reasons, have a longer life expectancy, accumulate less savings, and receive smaller pensions. Women represent more than half of Social Security beneficiaries in their 60s and 7 in 10 beneficiaries in their 90s. In addition, women make up 96 percent of Social Security survivor beneficiaries.

Women benefit disproportionately from the program’s inflation-protected benefits (because tend to have a longer life expectancy), its progressive formula for computing benefits (because they tend to have lower earnings), and its benefits for disabled spouses and disabled survivors