Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2001

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Average Indexed Monthly Earnings
Disability Insurance
Hospital Insurance
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics
Primary Insurance Amount
Social Security Administration
Supplemental Security Income

General Information, 2001

Cost-of-living adjustment

Cost-of-living adjustment, 2001: 3.5%

Tax rates

Tax rates, 2001 (in percent)
Program Employer and
employee, each
Total 7.65 15.30
OASI 5.30 10.60
DI 0.90 1.80
HI 1.45 2.90
NOTE: Social Security tax for employers and self-employed can be partially offset under income tax rules.

Average wage index

Average wage index, 1999–2001 (in dollars)
Year Index
1999 30,470
2000 (estimated) 32,105
2001 (estimated) 33,680
SOURCE: Office of the Chief Actuary, SSA.

Maximum earnings subject to Social Security taxes

Maximum earnings subject to Social Security taxes, 2001 (in dollars)
Program Amount
OASDI 80,400
HI No limit

Taxes payable

Taxes payable, 2001 (in dollars)
Type of earner OASI DI HI
Average earner 1,752 298 479
Maximum earner 4,261 724 No limit
Self-employed maximum earner 8,522 1,447 No limit

Quarters of coverage

Quarters of coverage, 2001 (work credits):
  • $830 in earnings equals 1 quarter of coverage (or 1 credit)
  • $3,320 is the maximum earnings needed for 4 quarters of coverage (or 4 credits) per year

Retirement earnings test

Retirement earnings test, 2001 (in dollars)
Period Annually Monthly
Ages 62–64 ($1 for $2 withholding rate) 10,680 890
Calendar year attaining age 65 ($1 for $3 withholding rate) a 25,000 2,083
After calendar year attaining age 65 or older No limit No limit
a. No longer in effect beginning with month attaining age 65.

Age for full retirement benefit

Age for full retirement benefit
Full benefit at age— Applicable to workers who
attain age 62 in year—
65 and 4 months 2001
65 and 6 months 2002
65 and 8 months 2003
65 and 10 months 2004
66 2005–2016
66 and 2 months 2017
66 and 4 months 2018
66 and 6 months 2019
66 and 8 months 2020
66 and 10 months 2021
67 2022 and later

Benefit formula bend points

Benefit formula bend points (for workers who in 2001 attain age 62, become disabled, or die before age 62)

Primary insurance amount equals:
   90% of the first $561 of AIME, plus
   32% of AIME over $561 through $3,381, plus
   15% of AIME over $3,381

Maximum family benefit equals:
   150% of the first $717 of PIA, plus
   272% of PIA over $717 through $1,034, plus
   134% of PIA over $1,034 through $1,349, plus
   175% of PIA over $1,349

Substantial gainful activity

Substantial gainful activity, 2001 (used for determining eligibility for and continuation of disability benefits):
  • Earnings of $740 per month for nonblind disabled persons
  • Earnings of $1,240 per month for blind persons

OASDI administrative expenses

OASDI administrative expenses (from the 2001 Trustees' Report): Costs were 0.7% of contributions in fiscal year 2000.

Trust fund operations

Trust fund operations >2000–2001 (in billions of dollars)
Calendar year and program Income Outgo Fund
at end
of year
2000 (actual)
OASI 490.5 358.3 931.0
DI 77.9 56.8 118.5
2001 (estimated)
OASI 520.1 378.1 1,073.0
DI 84.2 60.7 141.9
SOURCE: 2001 Trustees' Report.

Benefit payments

Benefit payments as a percentage of gross domestic product, 1999–2000
Calendar year Total OASI DI
1999 4.15 3.60 0.55
2000 3.82 3.27 0.55


Filed in fiscal year 2000
Type of filing Number
OASI claims a 3.4 million
DI claims 1.5 million
SSI applications 1.7 million
a. OASI claims exclude those filed by disabled widow(er)s and disabled adult children of retired or deceased workers, which are included in the DI claims.

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income, 2001 (in dollars)
Criteria Individual Couple
Federal payment standard 530 796
Resource limits 2,000 3,000

Poverty thresholds

Poverty thresholds, 1998–2000
Family unit 1998 1999 2000
Aged individual 7,818 7,990 8,259
Family of two, aged head 9,862 10,075 10,409
Family of four 16,660 17,029 17,761
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau.

Income of the Aged Population

Size of Income, 1962 and 1999

Median annual income for both married couples and nonmarried persons (aged 65 or older) has increased markedly since 1962 (the earliest year for which data are available). Even after adjusting for inflation, median income has risen 99% for married couples and 102% for nonmarried persons.

Median income of the aged (in 1999 dollars)
Bar chart. Median income has risen for married couples from $15,808 in 1962 to $31,402 in 1999. Likewise, it has risen for nonmarried persons from $6,213 in 1962 to $12,531 in 1999.

Receipt of Income, 1962 and 1999

Social Security benefits—the most common source of income in 1962—are now almost universal. The proportion of the aged population with asset income—the next most common source—has grown from about one-half to nearly two-thirds. Over the 37-year period, receipt of private pensions has more than tripled, and receipt of government pensions has increased by almost 50%. A smaller proportion of couples and nonmarried persons aged 65 or older received earnings in 1999 than in 1962.

Receipt of income by source
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

Shares of Aggregate Income, 1962 and 1999

In 1962, Social Security, private and government employee pensions, income from assets, and earnings made up only 84% of the total income of the aged, compared with 96% in 1999. Although private pensions still accounted for only a small proportion of total income in 1999, they more than tripled their share in this period—from 3% to 10%. The share from earnings declined from 28% to 21%.

Aggregate income by source, 1999
Pie chart showing the proportion of total income of the aged from six different income sources for 1999. Social Security accounted for 38%, earnings 21%, assets 19%, private pensions 10%, government employee pensions 8%, and other income accounted for 4%.

Reliance on Social Security, 1999

The OASDI program paid benefits to 90% of persons aged 65 or older. It was the major source of income (providing at least 50% of total income) for 64% of aged beneficiaries (couples or nonmarried persons), and it was the only source of income for 18%.

Ratio of Social Security to total income
Bar chart described in the text. In addition, 29% of aged beneficiaries received 90% or more of their income from Social Security.

Poverty Among Social Security Beneficiaries, 1999

Overall, 8% of aged beneficiaries were poor; without Social Security, the total poverty rate would have been 48% assuming no other changes. (Data are based on family income rather than individual income to conform to official measures of poverty.)

Poverty status, 1999
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

OASDI Program

Covered Earnings, 1937–2000

To pay for benefits, people contribute to Social Security through payroll taxes or self-employment taxes under the Federal Insurance Contributions Acts (FICA and SECA). The maximum taxable amount is updated annually on the basis of increases in average wages. Of the 153 million workers with Social Security taxable earnings in 2000, 6% had earnings that equaled or exceeded the maximum amount subject to taxes, compared with 3% when the program began and a peak of 35% in 1965. About 84% of earnings in covered employment were taxable in 2000, compared with 92% in 1937.

Covered earnings
Line chart showing the percentage of earnings in covered employment and the percentage of workers with maximum taxable earnings in selected years, 1937-2000. In 1937, 92% of earnings were in covered employment. That percentage fell gradually, reaching a low of 71.3% in 1965. It then rose steadily, peaking at 88.9% in 1985, then fell back slowly to about 84% in 2000.

Insured Status, 1970–2001

Of persons aged 20 or older, the percentage insured for benefits has steadily increased over time. The percentage permanently insured (those with enough covered work experience to qualify for retired-worker benefits at retirement age) rose from 50% in 1970 to 69% in 2001. The percentage fully insured increased from 77% to 88%. To be fully insured, a worker must have at least one quarter of coverage for each year elapsed after 1950 (or age 21, if later) and before the year in which he or she attains age 62 or becomes disabled. To be insured for disability, the worker must be fully insured and have at least 20 quarters of coverage during the last 40 quarters. (Requirements for currently insured status are somewhat different for persons younger than age 31.)

Insured workers, aged 20 or older, as a percentage of the corresponding population
Year a Population
(millions) b
Insured for
1970 135.2 50 77 52
1975 147.5 50 80 54
1980 162.0 53 83 58
1985 175.1 57 84 60
1990 186.0 63 86 62
1995 194.7 66 87 64
2001 206.8 69 88 66
SOURCE: Office of the Chief Actuary, SSA.
a. As of December 31.
b. The population in the Social Security area includes residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia; residents of other outlying areas; federal civilian employees and Armed Forces abroad and their dependents; crew members of merchant vessels; and certain other U.S. citizens residing abroad.

Insured Status by Sex, 1970 and 2001

Although men are more likely than women to be insured, the gender gap is shrinking. The proportion of men insured has remained essentially stable, with 93% fully insured and about 73% insured for disability. By contrast, the proportion of women insured has increased dramatically—from 63% to 84% for those fully insured and from 33% to 60% for those insured for disability.

Population aged 20 or older insured for benefits, by sex
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

New Benefit Awards, 2000

Benefits were awarded to 4.3 million persons: 46% were retired workers and 14% were disabled workers. The remaining 40% were spouses, children, survivors, or dependents of workers who received benefits based on the worker's earnings record. These awards represent not only new entrants to the benefit rolls but also persons already on the rolls who become entitled to a different benefit, for example, conversions of disabled-worker benefits to retired-worker benefits at age 65.

New benefit awards
Type of award Number
New awards 4,290 100
Retired workers and dependents 2,418 56
Workers 1,961 46
Spouses and children 457 10
Disabled workers and dependents 1,029 24
Workers 622 14
Spouses and children 408 10
Survivors of deceased workers 843 20
New awards, 2000
Bar chart described in the text.

New Awards to Workers, 1960–2000

Awards to retired workers have increased considerably since 1960 but proportionately much less than awards to disabled workers. The patterns of growth have also differed. Retired-worker awards rose steadily during the first half of the period, then leveled off around 1980. Disabled-worker awards increased rapidly until the mid-seventies, then declined considerably for about a decade, resuming their growth during the nineties.

New awards
Pie chart linked to data in table format.

Benefits in Current-Payment Status, December 2000

More than 45 million beneficiaries were in current-payment status, that is, they were being paid a benefit. The majority of those beneficiaries were retired workers.

Benefits in current-payment status
Beneficiary Number
All beneficiaries in current-payment status 45,415 100
Retired workers and dependents 31,756 70
Workers 28,499 63
Spouses and children 3,257 7
Disabled workers and dependents 6,673 15
Workers 5,042 11
Spouses and children 1,631 4
Survivors of deceased workers 6,985 15
Beneficiaries by type
Pie chart illustrating the Percent data from the previous table. In addition, showing that 11% of beneficiaries in current-payment status were spouses and children of retired and disabled workers.

Average Benefit Amounts, 2000

Benefits payable to workers who retire at the full retirement age and to disabled workers are equal to 100% of the PIA (subject to any applicable deductions). At the full retirement age, widows' benefits are also payable at 100% of the insured worker's PIA. Nondisabled widows and widowers can receive reduced benefits at age 60. Disabled widows can receive benefits (with a greater reduction) at age 50. Spouses, children, and parents receive a smaller proportion of the worker's PIA than widows do.

Average benefit amounts (in dollars)
Type of beneficiary New awards Current-payment
All beneficiaries 706 767
Retired workers 869 844
Spouses 344 429
Children 381 395
Disabled workers 835 786
Spouses 219 198
Children 226 228
Nondisabled widows and widowers 717 810
Disabled widows and widowers 527 520
Widowed mothers and fathers 600 595
Surviving children 566 550
Parents 707 704

Hypothetical Benefit Amounts, 2001

A covered worker who had worked continuously at low wages (45% of average national wages) and who claimed benefits at age 62 in January 2001 would receive a monthly benefit of $541. One who had earnings at or above the maximum amount subject to Social Security taxes and who claimed benefits at age 65 would receive $1,538. Someone who retired at age 70, which maximizes the effect of the delayed retirement credit, would receive $1,879.

Hypothetical benefit amounts
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Office of the Chief Actuary, SSA.
NOTE: Low earnings are defined as 45% of the national average wage index, average earnings are equal to the index, high earnings are 160% of the index, and maximum earnings are equal to the OASDI contribution and benefits base.

Beneficiaries by Age, December 2000

Some 81% of all OASDI beneficiaries with benefits in current-payment status were aged 62 or older. Among OASI beneficiaries, 93% were 62 or older. Among DI beneficiaries (disabled workers and their spouses and children), most were under age 62.

Beneficiaries by age
Two pie charts linked to data in table format.
Percentages may not sum to total because of rounding.

Disabled-Worker Beneficiaries by Age, 1960–2000

The average age of disabled-worker beneficiaries in current-payment status has declined substantially since 1960, when DI benefits first became available to persons younger than age 50. In that year, the average age of a disabled worker was 57.2 years. By 1980, it had fallen to 53.2, and in 2000, the average age was 50.8.

Average age of disabled workers
Line chart linked to data in table format.

Beneficiaries by Sex, December 2000

Of all adults receiving monthly Social Security benefits, 43% were men and 57% were women. More than 81% of the men and more than 57% of the women received retired-worker benefits. About one-fifth of the women received survivors benefits.

Adult beneficiaries by sex
Two pie charts linked to data in table format.

Average Monthly Benefit by Sex, December 2000

Among retired and disabled workers who collected benefits based on their own work record, men received a higher average monthly benefit than women. For those with benefits based on another person's work record (spouses and survivors), women had higher average benefits.

Average monthly benefit by sex (in dollars)
Type of beneficiary Men Women
All beneficiaries 928 696
Retired workers 951 730
Spouses 243 431
Disabled workers 883 661
Spouses 156 199
Nondisabled widows and widowers 607 812
Disabled widows and widowers 362 524
Mothers and fathers 503 600

Women Beneficiaries, 1940–2000

The proportion of women among retired-worker beneficiaries has quadrupled since 1940. The proportion of women among disabled-worker beneficiaries has more than doubled since 1957, when DI benefits first became payable.

Women beneficiaries
Line chart linked to data in table format.

Women with Dual Entitlement, 1960–2000

The proportion of women aged 62 or older who are receiving benefits as dependents (that is, on the basis of their husband's earnings record only) has been declining—from 57% in 1960 to 34% in 2000. At the same time, the proportion of women with dual entitlement (that is, paid on the basis of both their own earnings record and that of their husband) has been increasing—from 5% in 1960 to 28% in 2000.

Women aged 62 or older
Area chart described in the text. In addition, the percentage of women who are entitled solely on their own earnings records as retired or disabled workers has remained fairly steady over this period at about 40%.

SSI Program

Beneficiaries, 1974–2000

Shortly after the SSI program began in 1974, the number of persons receiving federally administered payments rose to 4 million. It remained at about that level until the mid-1980s, then rose through the mid-1990s. In 2000, it stood at about 6.6 million.

Year Number
1974 3,216
1976 4,326
1978 4,217
1980 4,142
1982 3,858
1984 4,029
1986 4,269
1988 4,464
1990 4,817
1992 5,566
1994 6,296
1996 6,614
1998 6,566
2000 6,602
Persons receiving federally administered payments
Area chart described in the previous table.

Payment Amounts by Age, December 2000

The average federally administered SSI payment was $379. Payments varied by age group, ranging from an average of $463 for those under 18 to $303 for beneficiaries 65 or older.

Average monthly payment
Bar chart described in the text. In addition, beneficiaries aged 18-64 received an average payment of $401.
NOTE: Excludes retroactive payments.

Federally Administered Payments, December 2000

Over 6.6 million persons received federally administered SSI payments. Most received federal SSI only. States have the option of supplementing the federal benefit rate and are required to do so if that rate is less than the income the beneficiary would have had under the former state program.

Type of payment
Pie chart. In December 2000, 63% of more than 6.6 million SSI beneficiaries received only a federal SSI payment, 33% received federally administered state supplementation along with their federal SSI payment, and 4% received only federally administered state supplementation.
a. Excludes state-administered state supplementation.

Basis for Eligibility and Age, December 2000

One-fifth of SSI beneficiaries have been awarded benefits on the basis of age; most of the rest on the basis of disability. Almost one-third of the beneficiaries were aged 65 or older. In the SSI program—unlike the OASDI program—a disabled beneficiary is still classified as "disabled" after reaching age 65. DI beneficiaries are converted to the retirement program when they attain age 65.

Basis for eligibility
Two pie charts. The first pie chart shows the percentage distribution in December 2000 of SSI beneficiaries by basis for eligibility: 79% are disabled, 20% are aged, and 1% are blind. The second pie chart shows the same group distributed by age: 13% are under 18, 57% are aged 18-64, and 30% are 65 or older.

Beneficiaries Aged 65 or Older, 1974–2000

The proportion of SSI beneficiaries aged 65 or older has declined from 61% in January 1974 to 30% in December 2000. The long-term growth of the SSI program has occurred because of an increase in the number of disabled beneficiaries, most of whom are under age 65.

Aged 65 or older
Area chart described in the text.

Beneficiaries by Sex and Age, December 2000

Overall, 59% of the SSI beneficiaries were women, but that percentage varied greatly by age group. Women accounted for nearly three-fourths of beneficiaries aged 65 or older, nearly three-fifths of those aged 18–64, and over a third of those under age 18.

Sex and age
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

Other Income, December 2000

Fifty-nine percent of aged SSI beneficiaries received OASDI benefits, as did about 30% of those aged 18-64 and 7% of those under age 18. Other types of unearned income, such as veterans' pensions or income from assets, occurred most frequently among those under age 18 (17%) and those aged 65 or older (16%). Earned income was most prevalent (7%) among those 18–64.

Other income by source and age
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

OASDI and/or SSI

All Beneficiaries, December 2000

More than 49 million people received a payment from Social Security. Most (43.0 million) received OASDI benefits only, about 4.2 million received SSI only, and 2.4 million received payments from both programs.

All beneficiaries receiving OASDI and/or SSI
Type of benefit Number
All beneficiaries 49,637
Total receiving
OASDI 45,418
OASDI only 43,035
SSI 6,602
SSI only 4,218
Both OASDI and SSI 2,383
Number receiving OASDI and/or SSI
Bar chart described in the text.

Aged Beneficiaries, December 2000

Aged or survivors benefits were paid to 33.5 million people aged 65 or older. About 1.2 million of them received both OASI and SSI.

Aged beneficiaries receiving OASDI and/or SSI
Type of beneficiary Number
Aged 65 or older, total (unduplicated) 33,544
OASI, total a 32,722
Retired workers 25,954
Spouses b 2,459
Nondisabled widow(er)s 4,242
Disabled adult children aged 65 or older 64
SSI, total c 2,011
Receiving SSI only 822
Concurrently receiving both OASI and SSI 1,188
a. Total includes 3,500 persons who received either dependent parents benefits, special age-72 benefits, or mothers/fathers benefits.
b. Includes 23,000 spouses of disabled workers who were aged 65 or older.
c. Includes 721,500 disabled and blind SSI beneficiaries aged 65 or older.

Disabled Beneficiaries, December 2000

Payments based on the beneficiary's own disability were made to 9.3 million people under age 65. About 36% of them received payments from the SSI program only, 51% received Disability Insurance payments under the OASDI program only, and 13% received payments from both programs.

Disabled beneficiaries receiving OASDI and/or SSI
Type of benefit Number
All payments 9,304
Disability Insurance 5,908
Workers 5,042
Children aged 18–64 665
widow(er)s 201
Disability Insurance only 4,713
SSI disability a 4,591
Aged 18–64 3,744
Under age 18 847
SSI disability only 3,396
Both Disability Insurance and SSI 1,195
a. Total excludes 721,500 disabled and blind SSI beneficiaries aged 65 or older.
Number receiving disability payments
Bar chart described in the text.

Children and Social Security

OASDI Beneficiaries, December 2000

Over 3 million children under age 18 and students aged 18–19 received OASDI benefits—about half of them as the children of deceased workers. Those children had the highest average payments, in part because they are eligible to receive monthly benefits equal to 75% of the worker's PIA, whereas the children of retired or disabled workers may receive 50%. Overall, the average monthly benefit amount for children was $381.

Children receiving OASDI
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

SSI Beneficiaries, 1974–2000

In 1974, when the program began, there were 70,900 blind and disabled children receiving SSI. Since then, that number has increased to 847,000. The relatively high average payment to children (compared with payments made to blind and disabled adults) is due in part to a limited amount of other countable income. The peak in average monthly benefits in 1992 is due to retroactive payments resulting from the Sullivan v. Zebley decision.

Children receiving SSI
Line chart linked to data in table format.
a. As of 1998, these figures exclude retroactive payments.

Poverty Among Children in Beneficiary Families

In 1999, 6.6 million children were living in families receiving OASDI and/or SSI. About 1.8 million children were poor even though those benefits improved their situation. Excluding Social Security and assuming no other changes, about 3 million children would have had income below the poverty level.

Poverty status, 1999
Bar chart described in the text.