Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2000

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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, 2000

Tax rates

Tax rates, 2000 (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, 1998–2000 (in dollars)
Year Index
1998 28,861
1999 (estimated) 30,299
2000 (estimated) 31,685
SOURCE: Office of the Chief Actuary, SSA.

Maximum earnings subject to Social Security taxes

Maximum earnings subject to Social Security taxes, 2000 (in dollars)
Program Amount
OASDI 76,200
HI No limit

Taxes payable

Taxes payable, 2000 (in dollars)
Type of earner OASI DI HI
Average earner 1,679 285 459
Maximum earner 4,039 686 No limit
Self-employed maximum earner 8,077 1,372 No limit

Quarters of coverage

Quarters of coverage, 2000 (work credits):
  • $780 in earnings equals 1 quarter of coverage (or 1 credit)
  • $3,120 is the maximum earnings needed for 4 quarters of coverage (or 4 credits) per year

Retirement earnings test

Retirement earnings test, 2000 (in dollars)
Period Annually Monthly
Under age 65 ($1 for $2 withholding rate) 10,080 840
Calendar year attaining age 65
($1 for $3 withholding rate)
17,000 1,417
After calendar year attaining age 65
or older
No limit No limit

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 2 months 2000
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 2000 attain age 62, become disabled, or die before age 62)

Primary insurance amount equals:

90% of the first $531 of AIME, plus
32% of AIME over $531 through $3,202, plus
15% of AIME over $3,202

Maximum family benefit equals:

150% of the first $679 of PIA, plus
272% of PIA over $679 through $980, plus
134% of PIA over $980 through $1,278, plus
175% of PIA over $1,278

Substantial gainful activity

Substantial gainful activity, 2000 (used for determining eligibility for and continuation of disability benefits):
  • Earnings of $700 per month for nonblind disabled persons
  • Earnings of $1,170 per month for blind persons

OASDI administrative expenses

OASDI administrative expenses (from the 2000 Trustees' Report): Costs were 0.7% of contributions in fiscal year 1999.

Trust fund operations

Trust fund operations 1999–2000 (in billions of dollars)
Calendar year
and program
Income Outgo Fund
at end
of year
1999 (actual)
OASI 457.0 339.9 798.8
DI 69.5 53.0 97.3
2000 (estimated)
OASI 487.0 353.8 932.0
DI 78.7 56.5 119.5
SOURCE: 2000 Trustees' Report.

Benefit payments

Benefit payments as a percentage of gross domestic product, 1998–1999
Calendar year Total OASI DI
1998 4.28 3.73 0.55
1999 4.17 3.62 0.56


Filed in fiscal year 1999
Type of filing Number
OASI claims a 3.1 million
DI claims 1.5 million
SSI applications 1.6 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

SSI federal payment standard, 2000:
  • $512 for an individual
  • $769 for a couple

Poverty thresholds

Poverty thresholds, 1997–1999
Family unit 1997 1998 1999
Aged individual 7,698 7,818 7,990
Family of two, aged head 9,712 9,862 10,070
Family of four 16,400 16,660 17,184
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau.

Income of the Aged Population

Size of Income

Median income of aged units, 1962 and 1998

Median annual income for both married couples and nonmarried persons increased markedly from 1962 (the earliest year for which data are available) to 1998. Even after adjusting for inflation, median income rose 95% for married couples and 98% for nonmarried persons.

Median income of aged units (1998 dollars)
Bar chart. Median income has risen for married couples from $15,466 in 1962 to $30,176 in 1998. Likewise, it has risen for nonmarried persons from $6,079 in 1962 to $12,015 in 1998.

Receipt of Income

Sources of Income, 1962 and 1998

Social Security benefits, which were the most common source of income in 1962, are now almost universal. The proportion of aged units with asset income, the next most common source, has grown from about one-half to nearly two-thirds. Over the 36-year period, receipt of private pensions has more than 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 1998 than in 1962.

Percentage of aged units receiving income from various sources
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

Shares of Aggregate Income

Proportion of income from various sources, 1962 and 1998

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 97% in 1998. Although private pensions still accounted for only a small proportion of total income in 1998, they more than tripled their share in the period—from 3% to 10%. The share from earnings declined from 28% to 21%.

Percentage of aggregate income of the aged from various sources, 1998
Pie chart showing the proportion of total income of the aged from six different income sources for 1998. Social Security accounted for 38%, earnings 21%, assets 20%, private pensions 10%, government employee pensions 8%, and other income accounted for 3%.

Reliance on Social Security

Importance of benefits, 1998

The OASDI program paid benefits to 90% of those aged 65 or older in 1998. It was the major source of income (providing at least 50% of total income) for 63% of the beneficiary units (couples or nonmarried persons), and it was the only source of income for 18%.

Percentage of beneficiary units with Social Security benefits as a major source of income, 1998
Bar chart described in the text. In addition, 30% of aged beneficiaries received 90% or more of their income from Social Security.

Benefits Affect Poverty

Benefits reduce poverty rates, 1998

About two-fifths of the aged were kept out of poverty by Social Security benefits in 1998, a proportion that varies little by marital status or race. Overall, 9% of aged beneficiaries were poor; without Social Security, the total poverty rate would have been 48%. (Data are based on family income rather than aged person income to conform to official measures of poverty.)

Aged units and poverty status
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

OASDI Program

Workers and Insured Status

Workers with taxable earnings, 1937–99

In 1999, 152 million workers had earnings in employment covered by the Social Security program. Of these workers, 6% had earnings that equaled or exceeded the maximum amount currently subject to Social Security taxes, compared with 3% when the program began and a peak of 35% in 1965. About 85% of the earnings of workers in covered employment were taxable in 1999, compared with 92% in 1937.

Percentage of covered workers with maximum earnings and percentage of earnings taxable
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 85% in 1999. 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 1999.

Workers and Insured Status

Insured workers, 1970–2000

Of persons aged 20 or older, the percentage insured for benefits has steadily increased over time. The percent 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 2000. 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, 1970–2000
Year a Population
(in 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
2000 204.8 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; civilian residents of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; federal civilian employees and Armed Forces abroad and their dependents; crew members of merchant vessels; and all other U.S. citizens abroad.

Workers and Insured Status

Insured status, by sex, 1970 and 2000

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 83% for those fully insured and from 33% to 60% for those insured for disability.

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

New Benefit Awards

Benefits awarded, 1999

Benefits were awarded to 3.9 million persons in 1999. Forty-three percent were retired workers and 16% were disabled workers. The remaining 41% were survivors and/or dependents of workers—that is, spouses and children of retired or disabled workers who received benefits based on the worker's earnings record.

Awards, 1999
Type of beneficiary Total number
(in thousands)
New awards 3,917 100
Retired workers and dependents 2,065 52
Workers 1,690 43
Spouses and children 375 9
Disabled workers and dependents 1,045 27
Workers 621 16
Spouses and children 424 11
Survivors of deceased workers 807 21
Percentage of benefits awarded, 1999
Bar chart described in the text.

New Benefit Awards

Benefits awarded to workers, 1960–99

Benefits awarded to retired workers have increased considerably since 1960 but proportionately much less than benefits 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 and have since declined slightly. Disabled-worker awards increased rapidly until the late seventies, then declined considerably for about a decade, resuming their growth during the nineties.

Pie chart linked to data in table format.

Benefits in Current-Payment Status

Persons receiving monthly benefits, December 1999

More than 44 million persons were receiving monthly Social Security benefits in December 1999. Of these, the majority were retired workers.

Benefit receipt, by type of beneficiary
Type of beneficiary Total number
(in thousands)
Total with benefits in current-payment status 44,596 100
Retired workers and dependents 31,028 69
Workers 27,775 62
Spouses and children 3,253 7
Disabled workers and dependents 6,524 15
Workers 4,879 11
Spouses and children 1,644 4
Survivors of deceased workers 7,044 16
Percentage of beneficiaries in current-payment status
Pie chart illustrating the Total 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.

Benefit Amounts

Average amount of newly awarded benefits and benefits in current-payment status, 1999

Benefits payable to workers who retire at the normal retirement age and to disabled workers are equal to 100% of the PIA (subject to any applicable deductions). At the normal 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 widow benefits are payable (with a greater reduction) at age 50. Spouses, children, and parents receive smaller proportions of the worker's PIA than widows do.

Average monthly benefit amounts, 1999 (in dollars)
Type of beneficiary New
Retired workers 795 804
Spouses 338 411
Children 351 373
Disabled workers 783 754
Spouses 207 189
Children 212 216
Nondisabled widows and widowers 715 775
Disabled widows and widowers 502 500
Widowed mothers and fathers 569 566
Surviving children 539 526
Parents 688 674

Benefit Amounts

Hypothetical benefit amounts, 2000

A covered worker who had worked continuously at low wages (45% of average national wages) and who claimed benefits at age 62 in January 2000 would have received a monthly benefit of $518. One who had earnings at or above the maximum amount subject to Social Security taxes and who claimed benefits at age 65 would have received $1,433.

Hypothetical benefit amounts for a person who claimed benefits in January 2000
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

Age of persons receiving benefits, December 1999

Some 81% of all OASDI beneficiaries with benefits in current-payment status were aged 62 or older in December 1999. Among OASI beneficiaries, 93% were 62 or older. Among DI beneficiaries (disabled workers and their spouses and children), most were under age 62.

Percentage of beneficiaries, by age
Pie chart linked to data in table format.
NOTE: Percents may not sum to total due to rounding.

Beneficiaries by Age

Age of disabled-worker beneficiaries, 1960–99

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 1999, the average age was 50.6 years.

Average age of disabled-worker beneficiaries
Line chart linked to data in table format.

Beneficiaries by Sex

Sex of persons receiving monthly benefits, December 1999

Of all adults receiving monthly Social Security benefits at the end of 1999, 42% were men and 58% were women. More than 80% of the men and more than 55% of the women received retired-worker benefits. Slightly less than one-fourth of the women received survivors benefits.

Percentage of adult beneficiaries, by sex
Two pie charts linked to data in table format.

Beneficiaries by Sex

Average monthly benefit amounts, December 1999

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 who collected benefits based on another person's work record (spouses and survivors), women had higher average benefits.

Average monthly benefit by sex, December 1999 (in dollars)
Type of beneficiary Men Women
Total 884 665
Retired workers 905 698
Spouses 235 413
Disabled workers 846 630
Spouses 145 190
Nondisabled widows and widowers 572 776
Disabled widows and widowers 340 504
Mothers and fathers 474 570

Beneficiaries by Sex

Women-worker beneficiaries, 1940–99

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 benefits first became payable to disabled workers.

Percentage of women-worker beneficiaries, 1940–99
Line chart linked to data in table format.

Dual Entitlement

Dual entitlement, 1960–99

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 35% in 1999. 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 27% in 1999.

Receipt of benefits by women at age 62 or older, 1999
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


Historical comparison, by age, 1974–99

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 1999, it stood at nearly 6.6 million.

Persons receiving federally administered SSI payments
December Total number
(in thousands)
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
1999 6,557
Persons receiving federally administered SSI payments
Area chart described in previous table.

Payment Amounts

Average monthly payments, by age group, December 1999

The average federally administered SSI payment was $369 in December 1999. Payments varied by age group, ranging from an average of $450 for those under 18 to $293 for recipients aged 65 or older.

Average monthly SSI payment amount
Bar chart described in the text. In addition, recipients aged 18-64 received an average payment of $392.
NOTE: As of 1998, these figures exclude retroactive payments.

Federally Administered Payments

Recipients by type of payment, December 1999

Over 6 million persons received federally administered SSI payments in December 1999. Most received federal SSI only. States have the option of supplementing the federal benefit rate and are required to do so if that rate does not equal the income the recipient would have had under the former state program.

Percentage of recipients, by type of payment
Pie chart. In December 1999, 63% of more than 6 million SSI recipients 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

Recipients by basis for eligibility and age, December 1999

One-fifth of SSI recipients have been awarded benefits on the basis of age; most of the rest on the basis of disability. One-third of the recipients were aged 65 or older. In the SSI program—unlike the OASDI program—a disabled recipient can be aged 65 or older. (DI beneficiaries are converted to the retirement program when they attain age 65.)

SSI recipients, by basis for eligibility
Two pie charts. The first pie chart shows the percentage distribution in December 1999 of SSI recipients by basis for eligibility: 79% were disabled, 20% were aged, and 1% were blind. The second pie chart shows the same group distributed by age: 13% were under 18, 56% were aged 18-64, and 31% were 65 or older.

Recipients by Age

Historical comparison, by age, 1974–99

The proportion of SSI recipients aged 65 or older has declined from 61% in January 1974 to 31% in December 1999. The long-term growth of the SSI program has occurred because of an increase in the number of disabled recipients, most of whom are under age 65.

Percentage of SSI recipients aged 65 or older
Area chart described in the text.

Recipients by Sex and Age

Distribution by sex and age, December 1999

Overall, 59% of the SSI recipients in December 1999 were women, but this varied by age group. Women accounted for nearly three-fourths of recipients aged 65 or older, over half of those aged 18–64, and over a third of those under age 18.

Number and percentage of SSI recipients, by sex and age
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

Other Income

Type of other income received, December 1999

Nearly two-thirds of aged SSI recipients received OASDI benefits in December 1999, as did about one-third 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, also occurred most frequently among those aged 65 or older (16%), while earned income was most prevalent (7%) among those 18–64.

Percentage with other income, by source and age
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

OASDI and/or SSI

All Beneficiaries

Receipt of OASDI and SSI payments, December 1999

More than 48 million persons received a payment from Social Security in December 1999. Most (42.2 million) received OASDI benefits only; about 4.2 million received SSI only; and 2.4 million received payments from both programs.

Receipt of OASDI and/or SSI
Type of beneficiary Number
(in thousands)
Total receiving OASDI and/or SSI 48,770
Total receiving OASDI 44,596
Receiving OASDI only 42,213
Total receiving SSI 6,557
Total receiving SSI only 4,173
Receiving both OASDI and SSI 2,383
Number receiving OASDI and/or SSI
Bar chart described in the text.

Beneficiaries Aged 65 or Older

Receipt of OASI and/or SSI aged benefits, December 1999

Aged or survivors benefits were paid to 32.9 million persons aged 65 or older in December 1999. About 1.2 million of them received both OASI and SSI.

Receipt of OASI and/or SSI aged benefits
Type of beneficiary Number
(in thousands)
Aged 65 or older, total (unduplicated) 32,938
OASI total a 32,125
Retired workers 25,304
Spouses 2,474
Nondisabled widow(er)s 4,280
Disabled adult children aged 65 or older 63
SSI total b 2,019
Receiving SSI only 813
Concurrently receiving both OASI and SSI 1,206
a. Total includes 4,800 persons who received either dependent parents benefits, special age-72 benefits, or mothers/fathers benefits.
b. Includes 710,600 disabled and blind SSI recipients aged 65 or older.

Disabled Beneficiaries

Receipt of disability payments, December 1999

Payments based on the beneficiary's own disability were made to 9.1 million persons under age 65 in December 1999. About 37% of them received payments from the SSI program only, 50% received payments from the OASDI program only, and 13% received payments from both programs.

Receiving OASDI and/or SSI disability payments
Type of payment Number
(in thousands)
Total receiving OASDI and/or SSI 9,097
OASDI disability 5,736
Disabled workers 4,879
Disabled children aged 18–64 658
Disabled widow(er)s 199
OASDI disability only 4,559
SSI disability a 4,538
Blind and disabled aged 18-64 3,691
Blind and disabled under age 18 847
SSI disability only 3,361
Both OASDI and SSI 1,177
a. Total excludes 710,600 disabled and blind SSI beneficiaries aged 65 or older.
Number receiving disability payments
Bar chart described in the text.

Children and Social Security

Children and OASDI

Current receipt, December 1999

Over 3 million children under age 18 and students aged 18–19 received OASDI benefits in December 1999—about half of them as the children of deceased workers. These 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 $363.

Number of children receiving OASDI
Bar chart linked to data in table format.

Children and SSI

Recipients and payment amounts, 1974–99

In 1974 when the program began, there were 70,900 blind and disabled children receiving payments under SSI. Since then, that number has increased ten-fold. The relatively high average payment to children (compared with those 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.

SSA's Role in Reducing Poverty

Social Security's role in reducing poverty for children

In 1998, 7 million children were living in families receiving OASDI and/or SSI benefits. About 1.1 million children would have resided in families with incomes below the poverty line without these benefits. About 2.3 million children were still poor even though OASDI and SSI benefits improved their situation.

Reducing poverty for children
Bar chart described in the text. In addition, about 4.7 million children living in families receiving OASDI and/or SSI benefits were not poor.