Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2002

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

General Information, 2002

Cost-of-living adjustment

Cost-of-living adjustment, 2002: 2.6%

Tax rates

Tax rates, 2002 (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

Average wage index

Average wage index, 2000–2002 (in dollars)
Year Index
2000 32,155
2001 (estimated) 33,897
2002 (estimated) 34,943

Maximum earnings subject to Social Security taxes

Maximum earnings subject to Social Security taxes, 2002 (in dollars)
Program Amount
OASDI 84,900
HI No limit

Taxes payable

Taxes payable, 2002 (in dollars)
Type of earner OASI DI HI
Average earner 1,852 314 507
Maximum earner 4,500 764 No limit
Self-employed maximum earner 8,999 1,528 No limit

Quarters of coverage

Quarters of coverage, 2002 (work credits):
  • $870 in earnings equals 1 quarter of coverage (that is, 1 credit)
  • $3,480 is the maximum earnings needed for 4 quarters of coverage (4 credits) in a given year

Retirement earnings test

Retirement earnings test, 2002 (in dollars)
Period Annually Monthly
Ages 62–64 ($1 for $2 withholding rate) 11,280 940
Calendar year attaining retirement age ($1 for $3 withholding rate) a 30,000 2,500
After calendar year attaining retirement age or older No limit No limit
a. Test no longer applies beginning in the month in which retirement age is reached.

Age for full retirement benefit

Age for full retirement benefit
Applicable to workers who
were born in year—
Full benefit at age—
1940 65 and 6 months
1941 65 and 8 months
1942 65 and 10 months
1943–54 66
1955 66 and 2 months
1956 66 and 4 months
1957 66 and 6 months
1958 66 and 8 months
1959 66 and 10 months
1960 and later 67

Benefit formula bend points

Benefit formula bend points (for workers who in 2002 attain age 62, become disabled, or die before age 62)

Primary insurance amount equals:
   90% of the first $592 of AIME, plus
   32% of AIME over $592 through $3,567, plus
   15% of AIME over $3,567

Maximum family benefit equals:
   150% of the first $756 of PIA, plus
   272% of PIA over $756 through $1,092, plus
   134% of PIA over $1,092 through $1,424, plus
   175% of PIA over $1,424

Disability thresholds

Disability thresholds, 2002

Substantial gainful activity:
   $780 per month for nonblind persons
   $1,300 per month for blind persons

Trial work period:
   $560 per month

OASDI administrative expenses

OASDI administrative expenses (from the 2002 Trustees' Report): Costs were 0.7% of contributions in calendar year 2001.

Trust fund operations

Trust fund operations, 2001–2002 (in billions of dollars)
Calendar year Income Outgo Fund
at end
of year
2001 (actual)
OASI 518.1 377.5 1,071.5
DI 83.9 61.4 141.0
2002 (estimated)
OASI 537.4 393.7 1,215.3
DI 87.0 71.4 156.5
SOURCE: 2002 Trustees' Report.

Benefit payments

Benefit payments as a percentage of gross domestic product, 2000–2001
Calendar year Total OASI DI
2000 4.13 3.57 0.56
2001 4.23 3.65 0.58


Workload, fiscal year 2001 (in millions)
Type of filing Number
OASI claims 3.1
DI claims 1.7
SSI applications 1.7

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income, 2002

Federal payment standard:
   $545 individual, $817 couple

Resource limits:
   $2,000 individual, $3,000 couple

Student exclusion limits:

Poverty thresholds

Poverty thresholds, 1999–2001 (in dollars)
Family unit 1999 2000 2001
Aged individual 7,990 8,259 8,494
Family of two, aged head 10,075 10,419 10,705
Family of four 17,029 17,603 18,267
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau.

Income of the Aged Population

Size of Income, 1962 and 2000

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 91% for married couples and 98% for nonmarried persons.

Median income of the aged, by marital status (in 2000 dollars)
Bar chart. Median income has risen for married couples from $16,339 in 1962 to $31,188 in 2000. Likewise, it has risen for nonmarried persons from $6,422 in 1962 to $12,715 in 2000.

Receipt of Income, 1962 and 2000

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 seen a modest increase. Over the 38-year period, receipt of private pensions has tripled, and receipt of government pensions has increased by over 50%. A smaller proportion of couples and nonmarried persons aged 65 or older received earnings in 2000 than in 1962.

Percentage of the aged receiving income, by source
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

Shares of Aggregate Income, 1962 and 2000

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 2000. Although private pensions still accounted for only a small proportion of total income in 2000, they tripled their share over this period—from 3% to 9%. The share from earnings declined from 28% to 23%.

Aggregate income, by source, 2000
Pie chart showing the proportion of total income of the aged from six different income sources for 2000. Social Security accounted for 38%, earnings 23%, assets 18%, private pensions 9%, government employee pensions 8%, and other income accounted for 4%.

Reliance on Social Security, 2000

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 20%.

Percentage of the aged receiving Social Security, by relative importance of benefits to total income
Bar chart described in the text. In addition, 31% of aged beneficiaries received 90% or more of their income from Social Security.

Poverty Status Based on Family Income, 2000

The aged poor are those with income below the poverty line. The near poor have income below 125% of the poverty line. Nonmarried persons and minorities have the highest poverty rates, ranging from 15% to 22%. Married persons have the lowest poverty rates, with 5% poor and 3% near poor. Overall, 10% are poor and 7% near poor.

Poverty status, by marital status, sex of nonmarried persons, race, and Hispanic origin
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

OASDI Program

Covered Earnings, 1937–2001

People contribute to Social Security through payroll taxes or self-employment taxes (FICA and SECA), as required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. The maximum taxable amount is updated annually based on increases in the average wage. Of the 153 million workers with Social Security taxable earnings in 2001, 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 83% of earnings in covered employment were taxable in 2001, compared with 92% in 1937.

Percentage of earnings in covered employment and percentage of workers with maximum taxable earnings, selected years
Line chart. 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 86% in 2001. The percentage of workers with maximum earnings shows an inverse pattern. Only 3.1% of workers had maximum earnings in 1937, rising steadily and reaching a high of 36.1% in 1965. The percentage fell to 15% in 1975, then to 6.5% in 1985, and to 6% in 2001.

Insured Status, 1970–2002

The percentage of persons aged 20 or older who are insured for benefits has steadily increased over time. The percentage permanently insured (with enough covered work experience to qualify for retired-worker benefits at retirement age) rose from 50% in 1970 to 69% in 2002. The percentage fully insured increased from 77% to 89%. To be fully insured, a worker must have at least one quarter of coverage for each year elapsed after age 21 (but no earlier than 1950) and before the year in which he or she attains age 62 or becomes disabled. To be currently insured for disability at ages 20 to 65, 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 as a percentage of the corresponding population, selected years
Year Population aged 20 or older Population aged 20–65
Millions Percentage
Millions Percentage
insured for
1970 135.2 50 77 113.2 62
1975 147.5 50 80 122.9 65
1980 162.0 53 83 133.3 70
1985 175.1 57 84 144.1 73
1990 186.0 63 86 151.9 76
1995 194.7 66 87 160.5 78
2000 204.7 69 88 169.2 79
2002 209.1 69 89 173.2 80
SOURCE: Office of the Chief Actuary, SSA.
NOTE: The population in the Social Security area includes residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia; residents of 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 2002

Although men are more likely than women to be insured, the gender gap is shrinking. The proportion of men who are insured has remained essentially stable, with 93% fully insured and 85% insured for disability. By contrast, the proportion of women who are insured has increased dramatically—from 63% to 84% fully insured and from 41% to 75% insured for disability.

Percentage of population fully insured and insured for disability benefits, by sex
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Office of the Chief Actuary, SSA.

New Benefit Awards, 2001

Benefits were awarded to 4.2 million persons: of those, 43% were retired workers and 17% 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, particularly conversions of disabled-worker benefits to retired-worker benefits at age 65.

New awards, by type of beneficiary
Beneficiary Number
Total 4,162 100
Retired workers and dependents 2,204 53
Workers 1,779 43
Spouses and children 425 10
Disabled workers and dependents 1,118 27
Workers 691 17
Spouses and children 427 10
Survivors of deceased workers 840 20
New awards, 2001
Bar chart described in the text.

New Awards to Workers, 1960–2001

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. The number of awards to retired workers climbed steadily—from 1 million in 1960 to 1.7 million in 1985. Over the next 10 years, it tapered off slightly, rose to almost 2 million in 2000, then declined to 1.8 million in 2001. Disabled-worker awards increased gradually—from 208,000 in 1960 to 592,000 in the mid-seventies—before falling to 377,000 in 1985. The number then rose, reaching 691,000 in 2001.

New awards to retired and disabled workers, selected years
Pie chart linked to data in table format.

Benefits in Current-Payment Status, December 2001

Almost 46 million beneficiaries were in current-payment status, that is, they were being paid a benefit. The majority of those beneficiaries were retired workers.

All beneficiaries in current-payment status
Beneficiary Number
Total 45,878 100
Retired workers and dependents 32,046 70
Workers 28,837 63
Spouses and children 3,209 7
Disabled workers and dependents 6,913 15
Workers 5,274 11
Spouses and children 1,639 4
Survivors of deceased workers 6,918 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, 2001

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 at age 50. Spouses, children, and parents receive a smaller proportion of the worker's PIA than widows do.

Average monthly benefit for new awards and for benefits in current-payment status (in dollars)
Beneficiary New awards Current-payment
Total 716 796
Retired workers 878 874
Spouses 341 443
Children 394 413
Disabled workers 869 814
Spouses 228 207
Children 233 238
Nondisabled widows and widowers 736 841
Disabled widows and widowers 547 537
Widowed mothers and fathers 635 621
Surviving children 593 571
Parents 771 729

Hypothetical Benefit Amounts, 2002

A covered worker who had worked continuously at low wages (45% of the national average wage) and who claimed benefits at age 62 in January 2002 would receive a monthly benefit of $565. One who had earnings at or above the maximum amount subject to Social Security taxes and who claimed benefits at age 65 would receive $1,660. Someone who claimed benefits at age 70, which maximizes the effect of the delayed retirement credit, would receive $1,988.

Hypothetical benefit (in dollars)
Earnings Age 62 Age 65 Age 70
Low 565 682 815
Average 931 1,127 1,358
High 1,217 1,467 1,748
Maximum 1,375 1,660 1,988
SOURCE: Office of the Chief Actuary, SSA.
NOTE: Low earnings are defined as 45% of the national average 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 2001

Of all OASI beneficiaries with benefits in current-payment status, 92% were aged 62 or older. Among DI beneficiaries (disabled workers and their spouses and children), 89% were under age 62.

Beneficiaries, by age
Two pie charts linked to data in table format.
NOTE: Percentages may not sum to 100 because of rounding.

Disabled-Worker Beneficiaries, by Age, 1960–2001

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. The rapid drop in average age in the following years reflects a growing number of awards to workers under 50. By 1995, the average age had fallen to a low of 49.8, and by 2001, it had risen slightly, to 50.9.

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

Beneficiaries, by Sex, December 2001

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

Adult beneficiaries, by type of beneficiary and sex
Two pie charts linked to data in table format.

Average Monthly Benefit, by Sex, December 2001

Among retired and disabled workers who collected benefits based on their own work records, 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 benefit (in dollars)
Beneficiary Men Women
Total 961 722
Retired workers 985 756
Spouses 250 445
Disabled workers 914 688
Spouses 165 208
Nondisabled widows and widowers 637 842
Disabled widows and widowers 375 541
Mothers and fathers 528 626

Women Beneficiaries, 1940–2001

The proportion of women among retired-worker beneficiaries has quadrupled since 1960. The percentage climbed steadily from 12% in 1940 to 47% in 1980, leveling off at 48% in 2001. The proportion of women among disabled-worker beneficiaries has more than doubled since 1957, when DI benefits first became payable. The percentage rose steadily from 20% in 1957 to 35% in 1990 and 44% in 2001.

Women beneficiaries as a percentage of retired workers and disabled workers, selected years
Line chart linked to data in table format.

Women with Dual Entitlement, 1960–2001

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 2001. 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 husbands) has been increasing—from 5% in 1960 to 28% in 2001.

Women aged 62 or older, by basis of entitlement, selected years
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 38%.

SSI Program

Beneficiaries, 1974–2001

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 2001, it stood at almost 6.7 million.

Persons receiving federally administered payments, selected years
Line chart described in the text. In addition, the number of recipients for 1974 was 3.2 million.

Payment Amounts, by Age, December 2001

The average federally administered SSI payment was $394. Payments varied by age group, ranging from an average of $476 for beneficiaries under 18 to $317 for those 65 or older.

Average monthly payment for federally administered SSI benefits
Bar chart described in the text. In addition, beneficiaries aged 18-64 received an average payment of $416.
NOTE: Amounts exclude retroactive payments.

Federally Administered Payments, December 2001

Nearly 6.7 million persons received federally administered SSI payments. The majority 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 SSI payment
Pie chart. In December 2001, 62% of the nearly 6.7 million SSI beneficiaries received only a federal SSI payment, 34% 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 of Beneficiaries, December 2001

Nineteen percent of SSI beneficiaries had benefits awarded on the basis of age, 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.

Distribution of SSI beneficiaries, by basis for eligibility and age
Two pie charts. The first pie chart shows the percentage distribution in December 2001 of SSI beneficiaries by basis for eligibility: 80% are disabled, 19% 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, 1974–2001

The proportion of SSI beneficiaries aged 65 or older has declined from 61% in January 1974 to 30% in December 2001. The overall 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.

Percentage of SSI beneficiaries aged 65 or older, selected years
Line chart described in the text.

Beneficiaries, by Sex and Age, December 2001

Overall, 58% of the 6.7 million SSI beneficiaries were women, but that percentage varied greatly by age group. Women accounted for 71% of the 2 million beneficiaries aged 65 or older, 57% of the 3.8 million beneficiaries aged 18–64, and 36% of the 0.9 million beneficiaries under age 18.

SSI beneficiaries, by sex and age
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

Other Income, December 2001

Fifty-eight percent of SSI beneficiaries aged 65 or older 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, were reported most frequently among those under age 18 (18%) and those aged 65 or older (16%). Earned income was most prevalent (7%) among those 18–64.

Other income of SSI beneficiaries, by source and age
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

OASDI and/or SSI

All Beneficiaries, December 2001

More than 50 million people received a payment from Social Security. Most (43.5 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, SSI, or both
Beneficiaries receiving
OASDI, SSI, or both
All beneficiaries 50,176
Total receiving
OASDI 45,878
OASDI only 43,488
SSI 6,688
SSI only 4,298
Both OASDI and SSI 2,390
NOTE: SSI includes federal SSI payments and federally administered state supplementation.
Number receiving benefits (in millions)
Bar chart described in the text.

Aged Beneficiaries, December 2001

Aged or survivors benefits were paid to 33.8 million people aged 65 or older. About 1.2 million received both OASI and SSI.

Aged beneficiaries receiving OASI, SSI, or both
Beneficiary Number
Aged 65 or older, total (unduplicated) 33,752
OASI, total a 32,923
Retired workers 26,267
Spouses b 2,418
Nondisabled widow(er)s 4,174
Disabled adult children aged 65 or older 65
SSI, total c 1,995
Receiving SSI only 829
Concurrently receiving both OASI and SSI 1,166
NOTE: SSI includes federal SSI payments and federally administered state supplementation.
a. Includes 3,200 persons who received dependent parents benefits, special age-72 benefits, or mothers/fathers benefits.
b. Includes 23,000 spouses of disabled workers aged 65 or older.
c. Includes 730,700 disabled or blind SSI beneficiaries aged 65 or older.

Disabled Beneficiaries, December 2001

Payments based on the beneficiary's own disability were made to 9.6 million people under age 65. Fifty-one percent received Disability Insurance payments under the OASDI program only, 36% received payments from the SSI program only, and 13% received payments from both programs.

Disabled beneficiaries receiving OASDI, SSI, or both
Payments Number
Total 9,619
Disability Insurance 6,150
Workers 5,274
Children aged 18–64 672
widow(er)s 204
Disability Insurance only 4,926
SSI disability a 4,693
Aged 18–64 3,811
Under age 18 882
SSI disability only 3,469
Both Disability Insurance and SSI 1,224
NOTE: SSI includes federal SSI payments and federally administered state supplementation.
a. Total excludes 730,700 disabled or blind SSI beneficiaries aged 65 or older.
Number receiving disability payments (in millions)
Bar chart described in the text.

Children and Social Security

OASDI Beneficiaries, December 2001

Over 3 million children under age 18 and students aged 18–19 received OASDI benefits. Children of deceased workers had the highest average payments, in part because they are eligible to receive monthly benefits equal to 75% of the worker's PIA, compared with 50% for children of retired or disabled workers. Overall, the average monthly benefit amount for children was $396.

Children receiving OASDI
Number of children of—
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
Average monthly benefit for children of—
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

SSI Beneficiaries, 1974–2001

In 1974, when the program began, there were 70,900 blind and disabled children receiving SSI. That number increased gradually to 309,000 in 1990, rose sharply to 955,000 in 1996, and then declined gradually to 882,000 in 2001. 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 spike in average monthly benefits in 1992 is due to retroactive payments resulting from the Sullivan v. Zebley decision.

Children receiving SSI
Number of children under age 18 receiving SSI, selected years
Line chart linked to data in table format.
Average monthly SSI payments to children, selected years
Line chart linked to data in table format.
a. As of 1998, these figures exclude retroactive payments.