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Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2000

(released August 2000)


We live in an era known as the Information Age, but finding exact numbers or answers to specific questions can be a daunting task. One can sift through vast amounts of information online or in printed publications and still have difficulty finding the relevant fact or statistic. As Commissioner of Social Security, I want you to have the answers to your most frequently asked questions about our programs at your fingertips.

Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security is a one-stop source of information about the programs SSA administers—the people they serve, the benefits they provide, and a sense of what the income means to beneficiaries and recipients. It presents brief narratives and easy-to-understand charts about the most important aspects of the retirement, survivors, and disability insurance programs—from general information, such as the age for full retirement benefits, to statistical profiles of the beneficiary population. A special section on the income of the aged highlights the importance of Social Security benefits as a major source of income. This booklet also provides information about the aged, blind, and disabled persons who receive payments under Supplemental Security Income—another program administered by our agency.

I believe that this booklet will prove useful to people interested in understanding the value and scope of SSA's programs.

Kenneth S. Apfel
Commissioner of Social Security


The Social Security program, from its beginning to the present, has been the subject of serious discussion and sometimes vigorous debate. Today, as we embark on a national dialogue about the future direction of Social Security, we need to base the discussion on information that is factual, informative, and easy to comprehend.

Fast Facts & Figures answers the most frequently asked questions about the programs SSA administers. It highlights basic program data for the Social Security (retirement, survivors, and disability) and Supplemental Security Income programs. Most of the data come from the Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, which contains more than 250 detailed tables. The information on the income of the aged is from the biennial data compilation Income of the Population 55 or Older.

The faces that emerge from these facts and figures illustrate the importance of Social Security for our oldest to our youngest citizens. In recent years, for example, it has kept 39% of our aged and 1.1 million children out of poverty. In all, more than 48 million people have received some type of benefit or assistance.

Paul N. Van de Water
Associate Commissioner for Research, Evaluation, and Statistics