Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2019

 

Did You Know That…

67.9 million people received benefits from programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2018.

5.6 million people were newly awarded Social Security benefits in 2018.

55% of adult Social Security beneficiaries in 2018 were women.

54.7 was the average age of disabled-worker beneficiaries in 2018.

86% of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients received payments because of disability or blindness in 2018.

General Information

Tax rates, 2019 (in percent)
Program Employee Employer Self-employed
Total 7.65 7.65 15.30
OASI 5.30 5.30 10.60
DI 0.90 0.90 1.80
HI a 1.45 1.45 a 2.90
a. Earned income exceeding $200,000 for individual filers and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly is subject to an additional HI tax of 0.90 percent.
Taxes payable, 2019 (in dollars)
Type of earner OASI DI HI
Average 2,855 485 781
Maximum 7,044 1,196 No limit
Self-employed maximum 14,087 2,392 No limit
Maximum earnings subject to Social Security taxes, 2019 (in dollars)
Program Amount
OASDI 132,900
HI No limit

Earnings required for work credits, 2019: $1,360 for one work credit (one quarter of coverage)

NOTE: A worker may earn a maximum of four credits a year. Doing so in 2019, therefore, requires $5,440 in earnings.

Benefit payments as a percentage of gross domestic product, 2017–2018
Calendar year Total OASI DI
2017 4.83 4.10 0.73
2018 4.82 4.12 0.70
NOTE: Figures are subject to change.

Cost-of-living adjustment, 2019: 2.80%

Age for full retirement benefit for retired workers
Year of birth Full retirement age (FRA)
1937 and earlier 65
1938 65 and 2 months
1939 65 and 4 months
1940 65 and 6 months
1941 65 and 8 months
1942 65 and 10 months
1943–1954 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

Maximum monthly Social Security benefit: $2,861 for workers retiring at FRA in 2019

NOTE: Higher benefits are possible for those who work or delay benefit receipt after reaching FRA.

Benefit formula bend points (for workers with first eligibility in 2019):

Primary insurance amount (PIA) equals
90% of the first $926 of average indexed monthly earnings (AIME), plus
32% of AIME over $926 through $5,583, plus
15% of AIME over $5,583

Average wage index, 2017–2019
Year Dollars Increase from previous year (in percent)
2017 50,321.89 3.5
2018 (estimated) 51,794.15 2.9
2019 (estimated) 53,863.71 4.0
Exempt amounts under the retirement earnings test, 2019 (in dollars)
Age of retired person in 2019 Annually Monthly
Under FRA ($1 for $2 withholding rate) 17,640 1,470
FRA ($1 for $3 withholding rate) a 46,920 3,910
Above FRA No limit No limit
NOTE: Retired-worker beneficiaries younger than FRA have some of their benefit withheld if they have earnings above the exempt amounts.
a. The test applies only to earnings made in months prior to the month of attainment of FRA.
SSI payment rates and resource limits, January 2019 (in dollars)
Program aspect Individual Couple
Federal benefit rate 771 1,157
Resource limit 2,000 3,000
Monthly earnings levels affecting disability program eligibility, 2019 (in dollars)
Determinant Monthly amount
Substantial gainful activity  
For nonblind persons 1,220
For blind persons 2,040
Trial work period 880
Trust fund operations, 2018–2019 (in billions of dollars)
Calendar year and trust fund Income Outgo Fund at end of year
2018 (actual)  
Total 1,003.4 1,000.2 2,894.9
OASI 831.0 853.5 2,797.9
DI 172.3 146.8 97.1
2019 (estimated)  
Total 1,061.0 1,060.0 2,895.9
OASI 917.6 910.3 2,805.2
DI 143.4 149.8 90.7
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
Poverty thresholds, 2018 (in dollars)
Family unit Amount
Aged individual 12,043
Family of two, aged head 15,178
Family of four 25,900
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau as of January 2019 (preliminary estimates).

OASDI administrative expenses: Costs were 0.8% of contributions in calendar year 2018

Workload, fiscal year 2018 (in millions)
Type of filing Number
OASI claims 5.9
DI claims 2.5
SSI applications 1.9

Income of the Aged Population

We are suspending publication of the five charts that constitute the Income of the Aged Population section for the 2019 edition of Fast Facts and Figures as we evaluate the adequacy of the charts' data source, the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (also known as the March Supplement) of the Current Population Survey (CPS). Recent research suggests that there may be some issues with the measurement of certain sources of income reported in the CPS. We are dedicated to publishing the most accurate statistics possible so we are conducting a thorough review of available data sources for these publications and will publish findings from this review. For more information, see Bee, Adam and Joshua W. Mitchell. 2017. “Do Older Americans Have More Income Than We Think?SESHD Working Paper No. 2017-39. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.

OASDI Program

Earnings in Covered Employment, 1937–2018

People contribute to Social Security through payroll taxes or self-employment taxes, as required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA). The maximum taxable amount is updated annually on the basis of increases in the average wage. Of the 176 million workers with earnings in Social Security–covered employment in 2018, about 6% had earnings that equaled or exceeded the maximum amount subject to taxes, compared with 3% when the program began and a peak of 36% in 1965. About 83% of earnings in covered employment were taxable in 2018, compared with 92% in 1937.

Taxable earnings as a percentage of earnings in covered employment and percentage of workers with maximum taxable earnings, selected years
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: SSA, Office of the Chief Actuary.

Insured Status, 1970–2018

The percentage of persons aged 20 or older who are insured for benefits has changed very little in recent years. To be fully insured, a worker must have at least one work credit (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, becomes disabled, or dies. The maximum number of work credits needed to be fully insured is 40. An individual is said to be permanently insured if he or she has earned 40 work credits. To be insured for disability, the worker must be fully insured and have at least 20 work credits during the last 40 calendar quarters. (Requirements for disability-insured status are somewhat different for persons younger than age 31.) Disability benefits are available up to FRA.

Insured workers as a percentage of the corresponding Social Security area population, selected years
Year Population aged 20 or older Population aged 20 to FRA a
Millions Percentage permanently insured Percentage fully insured Millions Percentage insured for disability
1970 135.0 50 77 113.9 63
1975 147.3 50 80 123.7 66
1980 161.8 53 83 135.2 70
1985 174.9 57 84 145.5 72
1990 185.9 63 86 153.7 75
1995 196.0 66 86 161.5 76
2000 206.9 68 87 171.3 78
2005 219.7 68 87 183.5 77
2010 230.7 69 87 191.9 76
2015 242.5 69 88 197.5 76
2016 244.6 70 88 198.1 76
2017 246.9 70 88 199.0 76
2018 249.3 70 88 199.9 77
SOURCE: SSA, Office of the Chief Actuary.
NOTES: The population in the Social Security area includes residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia adjusted for net census undercount; civilian residents of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands; federal civilian employees and persons in the U.S. armed forces abroad and their dependents; noncitizens living abroad who are insured for Social Security benefits; and all other U.S. citizens abroad.
Figures are subject to revision.
a. Insured for disability excludes those who have reached FRA.

Insured Status, by Sex, 1970 and 2018

Although men historically were more likely than women to be insured, the gender gap is shrinking. The proportion of men who are insured declined slightly from 1970 to 2018, with 90% fully insured and 79% insured for disability in 2018. By contrast, the proportion of women who are insured increased dramatically—from 63% to 86% fully insured and from 41% to 74% insured for disability.

Percentage of population in the Social Security area fully insured and insured for disability benefits, by sex
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: SSA, Office of the Chief Actuary.
NOTES: The population in the Social Security area includes residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia adjusted for net census undercount; civilian residents of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands; federal civilian employees and persons in the U.S. armed forces abroad and their dependents; noncitizens living abroad who are insured for Social Security benefits; and all other U.S. citizens abroad.
Figures are subject to revision.
a. Insured for disability excludes those who have reached FRA.

New Benefit Awards, 2018

Benefits were awarded to about 5.6 million persons; of those, 55% were retired workers and 12% were disabled workers. The remaining 33% were survivors or the spouses and children of retired or disabled workers. 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 FRA.

New awards, by type of beneficiary
Beneficiary Number (thousands) Percent
Total 5,597 100
Retired workers and dependents 3,667 66
Workers 3,082 55
Spouses and children 585 10
Disabled workers and dependents 1,040 19
Workers 687 12
Spouses and children 353 6
Survivors of deceased workers 891 16
New awards
Pie chart described in the text.
SOURCE: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

New Awards to Workers, 1978–2018

Awards to retired workers increased considerably over the past four decades, at a rate that nearly doubles the rate by which awards to disabled workers increased. The annualized rate of increase over the period from 1978 to 2018 is 1.9% for retired workers and 1.0% for disabled workers. The annual number of awards to retired workers rose from 1.5 million in 1978 to 3.1 million in 2018, while for disabled workers it increased from 464,000 in 1978 to 687,000 in 2018.

New awards to retired and disabled workers
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

Beneficiaries in Current-Payment Status, December 2018

Sixty-three million beneficiaries were in current-payment status; that is, they were being paid a benefit. Seventy percent of those beneficiaries were retired workers and 14% were disabled workers. The remaining beneficiaries—almost 17%—were survivors or the spouses and children of retired or disabled workers.

Beneficiaries in current-payment status
Beneficiary Number (thousands) Percent
Total 62,906 100
Retired workers and dependents 46,803 74
Workers 43,721 70
Spouses and children 3,082 5
Disabled workers and dependents 10,162 16
Workers 8,537 14
Spouses and children 1,625 3
Survivors of deceased workers 5,940 9
Beneficiaries, by type
Pie chart illustrating the Percent data from the previous table. The chart presents the spouses and children of both retired and disabled workers as a combined category that accounts for 7% of beneficiaries in current-payment status.
SOURCE: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Average Benefit Amounts, 2018

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

Average monthly benefit for new awards and for benefits in current-payment status (in dollars)
Beneficiary New awards Benefits in current-payment status, December
Retired workers 1,523 1,461
Spouses 656 763
Children 651 697
Disabled workers 1,386 1,234
Spouses 403 350
Children 379 381
Survivors of deceased workers  
Nondisabled widow(er)s 1,076 1,388
Disabled widow(er)s 744 747
Widowed mothers and fathers 993 1,007
Surviving children 883 885
Parents 1,181 1,232
SOURCE: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

Beneficiaries, by Age, December 2018

About four-fifths of all OASDI beneficiaries in current-payment status were aged 62 or older, including 23% aged 75–84 and 9% aged 85 or older. About 13% were persons aged 18–61 receiving benefits as disabled workers, survivors, or dependents. Another 5% were children under age 18.

Beneficiaries, by age
Pie chart described in the text. Chart also shows that 8% of all OASDI beneficiaries in current-payment status were aged 62 to 64 and 43% were aged 65 to 74.
SOURCE: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Age of Disabled and Retired Workers, 1960–2018

The average age of disabled-worker beneficiaries in current-payment status declined between 1960, when DI benefits first became available to persons younger than age 50, and 2018. In 1960, 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 fell to a low of 49.8, but by 2018, it rose to 54.7. By contrast, the average age of retired workers has changed little over time, rising from 72.4 in 1960 to 73.9 in 2018.

Average age of disabled-worker and retired-worker beneficiaries, selected years
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record, 10 percent sample for 1990–2005 and 100 percent data for all other years.

Beneficiaries, by Sex, December 2018

Of all adults receiving monthly Social Security benefits, 45% were men and 55% were women. Eighty-two percent of the men and 68% of the women received retired-worker benefits. Twelve percent of the women received survivor benefits.

Adult beneficiaries, by type of beneficiary and sex (in percent)
One bar chart for Men and one bar chart for Women described in the text. Charts also show that 16% of the men and 13% of the women received disabled-worker benefits and 7% of the women received benefits as spouses of retired and disabled workers.
SOURCE: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
a. Less than 1 percent of men received benefits as survivors (widowers or fathers) or as spouses of retired and disabled workers.

Average Monthly Benefit, by Sex, December 2018

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

Average monthly benefit (in dollars)
Beneficiary Men Women
Workers  
Retired 1,627 1,297
Disabled 1,360 1,104
Spouses of—  
Retired workers 645 772
Disabled workers 381 348
Survivors of deceased workers  
Nondisabled widow(er)s 1,227 1,394
Disabled widow(er)s 561 763
Mothers and fathers 874 1,019
SOURCE: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

Women Beneficiaries, 1940–2018

The proportion of women among retired-worker beneficiaries quadrupled between 1940 and 2018. The percentage climbed from 12% in 1940 to 47% in 1980, 48% in 1990, and 50% in 2018. The proportion of women among disabled-worker beneficiaries more than doubled between 1957, when DI benefits first became payable, and 2018. The percentage rose steadily from 19% in 1957 to 35% in 1990 and 49% in 2018.

Women as a percentage of retired-worker and disabled-worker beneficiaries, selected years
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

Women with Dual Entitlement, 1960–2018

The proportion of women aged 62 or older who are receiving benefits as dependents (that is, on the basis of their husbands' earnings record only) declined from 57% in 1960 to 20% in 2018. At the same time, the proportion of women with dual entitlement (that is, paid on the basis of both their own earnings records and those of their husbands) increased from 5% in 1960 to 25% in 2018.

Women aged 62 or older, by basis of entitlement, selected years
Area chart described in the text. Chart also shows that the percentage of women who are entitled solely on their own earnings records remained fairly close to 40% from 1960 to 2000, before slowly rising in recent years to 55% in 2018.
SOURCE: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record. All data for 2005 and dual entitlement data for 1995 and 2000 are based on a 10 percent sample. All other years are 100 percent data.

Child Beneficiaries, December 2018

About 3.0 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 based on 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 $616.

Number of and average monthly benefit for children of worker beneficiaries
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.
SOURCE: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.

SSI Program

Number of Recipients, 1974–2018

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides income support to needy persons aged 65 or older, blind or disabled adults, and blind or disabled children. Eligibility requirements and federal payment standards are nationally uniform. SSI replaced the former federal/state adult assistance programs in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Payments under SSI began in January 1974, with 3.2 million persons receiving federally administered payments. By December 1974, this number had risen to nearly 4 million and remained at about that level until the mid-1980s, then rose steadily, reaching nearly 6 million in 1993 and 7 million by the end of 2004. As of December 2018, the number of recipients was about 8.1 million. Of this total, 4.7 million were between the ages of 18 and 64, 2.3 million were aged 65 or older, and 1.1 million were under age 18.

Persons receiving federally administered SSI payments, December
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: SSA, Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data.

Payment Amounts, by Age, December 2018

The average monthly federally administered SSI payment was $551. Payments varied by age group, ranging from an average of $655 for recipients aged under 18 to $446 for those aged 65 or older. The maximum federal benefit rate in December 2018 was $771 for an individual and $1,157 for a couple, plus any applicable state supplementation.

Average monthly federally administered SSI payment
Bar chart described in the text. Chart also shows that recipients aged 18 to 64 received an average payment of $576.
SOURCE: SSA, Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data.
NOTE: Amounts exclude retroactive payments.

Federally Administered Payments, December 2018

A total of 8.1 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 recipient would have had under the former state program.

Type of SSI payment
Pie chart. 82% of SSI recipients received only a federal SSI payment, 16% received federally administered state supplementation along with their federal SSI payment, and 2% received only federally administered state supplementation.
SOURCE: SSA, Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data.

Basis for Eligibility and Age of Recipients, December 2018

Fourteen percent of SSI recipients received benefits on the basis of age and the rest qualified on the basis of disability. Twenty-eight percent of the recipients were aged 65 or older. In the SSI program, a disabled recipient is still classified as “disabled” after reaching age 65. In the OASDI program, DI beneficiaries are converted to the retirement program when they attain FRA.

SSI recipients, by basis for eligibility and age
Two pie charts. The first pie chart shows the percentage distribution of SSI recipients by basis for eligibility: 85% were disabled, 14% were aged, and 1% were blind. The second pie chart shows the same group distributed by age: 14% were under 18, 58% were aged 18 to 64, and 28% were 65 or older.
SOURCE: SSA, Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data.

Percentage Distribution of Recipients, by Age, 1974–2018

The proportion of SSI recipients aged 65 or older declined from 61% in January 1974 to 28% in December 2018. The overall long-term growth of the SSI program occurred because of an increase in the number of disabled recipients, most of whom are under age 65.

Percentage distribution of SSI recipients, by age, December
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: SSA, Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data.

Recipients, by Sex and Age, December 2018

Overall, 53% of the approximately 8.1 million SSI recipients were women, but that percentage varied greatly by age group. Women accounted for 65% of the 2.3 million recipients aged 65 or older, 51% of the 4.7 million recipients aged 18–64, and 32% of the 1.1 million recipients under age 18.

SSI recipients, by sex and age
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: SSA, Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data.

Other Income, December 2018

More than 56% of SSI recipients aged 65 or older received OASDI benefits, as did 29.2% of those aged 18–64 and 6.6% of those under age 18. Other types of unearned income, such as income from assets, were reported most frequently among those under age 18 (21.7%) and those aged 65 or older (10.4%). Earned income was most prevalent (4.9%) among those aged 18–64.

Percentage of SSI recipients also receiving other income, by source and age
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: SSA, Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data.

Child Recipients, December 1974–2018

As of December of the program's first year, 1974, 70,900 blind and disabled children were receiving SSI. That number increased to about 955,000 in 1996, declined to about 847,000 in 2000, and increased to 1,148,038 in 2018. 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. As of December 2018, blind and disabled children were receiving SSI payments averaging $655.

Number of children under age 18 receiving SSI
Line chart linked to data in table format.
Average monthly SSI payment to children under age 18 a
Line chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: SSA, Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data.
a. As of 1998, these figures exclude retroactive payments.

Cross-Program Beneficiaries

All Beneficiaries, December 2018

About 67.9 million people received a payment from one or more programs administered by SSA. Most (59.8 million) received OASDI benefits only, 5.4 million received SSI only, and 2.7 million received payments from both programs.

Beneficiaries receiving OASDI, SSI, or both
Benefit Number (thousands)
Total (unduplicated) 67,911
OASDI 62,498
OASDI only 59,783
SSI 8,129
SSI only 5,413
Both OASDI and SSI 2,715
Distribution of all beneficiaries
Pie chart. 88% of beneficiaries received only OASDI benefits, 8% received only SSI payments, and 4% received both OASDI and SSI payments.
SOURCES: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record and Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data.
NOTES: OASDI beneficiaries who are entitled to both a primary and a secondary benefit (dual entitlement) are counted only once. SSI includes federal SSI payments and federally administered state supplementation.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Beneficiaries Aged 65 or Older, December 2018

Benefits were paid to 48.1 million people aged 65 or older. About 1.3 million received both OASDI and SSI.

Beneficiaries aged 65 or older receiving OASDI, SSI, or both
Beneficiary Number (thousands)
Total (unduplicated) 48,071
OASDI 47,076
Retired workers 40,994
Disabled workers 525
Spouses 2,235
Widow(er)s a 3,224
Disabled adult children 98
OASDI only 45,804
SSI b 2,266
Receiving SSI only 995
Receiving both OASDI and SSI 1,272
Distribution of beneficiaries aged 65 or older, by program
Pie chart. 95% of beneficiaries aged 65 or older received only OASDI benefits, 2% received only SSI payments, and 3% received both OASDI and SSI payments.
SOURCES: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record and Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data.
NOTES: OASDI beneficiaries who are entitled to both a primary and a secondary benefit (dual entitlement) are counted only once. SSI includes federal SSI payments and federally administered state supplementation.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
a. Includes persons who received dependent parent's benefits or mother's and father's benefits.
b. Includes 1,097,310 SSI beneficiaries aged 65 or older who are disabled or blind.

Disabled Beneficiaries Aged 18–64, December 2018

Payments were made to nearly 12.5 million people aged 18–64 on the basis of their own disability. Sixty-two percent received disability payments from the OASDI program only, 28% received payments from the SSI program only, and 10% received payments from both programs.

Disabled beneficiaries aged 18–64 receiving OASDI, SSI, or both
Beneficiary Number (thousands)
Total (unduplicated) 12,461
OASDI disability 8,999
Workers aged 64 or younger 7,995
Disabled adult children 898
Widow(er)s 106
OASDI disability only 7,746
SSI disability 4,714
Receiving SSI disability only 3,462
Receiving both OASDI and SSI disability 1,253
Distribution of disabled beneficiaries aged 18–64
Pie chart described in the text.
SOURCES: SSA, Master Beneficiary Record and Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data.
NOTES: OASDI beneficiaries who are entitled to both a primary and a secondary benefit (dual entitlement) are counted only once. SSI includes federal SSI payments and federally administered state supplementation.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Social Security Financing

How Social Security Is Financed

Social Security is largely a pay-as-you-go program. Most of the payroll taxes collected from today's workers are used to pay benefits to today's recipients. In 2018, the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds collected $1.0 trillion in revenues. Of that amount, 88.2% was from payroll tax contributions and reimbursements from the General Fund of the Treasury and 3.5% was from income taxes on Social Security benefits. Interest earned on the government bonds held by the trust funds provided the remaining 8.3% of income. Assets increased in 2018 because total income exceeded expenditures for benefit payments and administrative expenses.

Sources and uses of Social Security revenues in 2018
Two pie charts. The Sources of Revenue pie chart is described in the text. The Uses of Revenues pie chart has four slices. Benefit payments: 98.5%. Increase in trust funds: 0.3%. Administrative expenses: 0.7%. Railroad Retirement financial interchange: 0.5%.
SOURCE: 2019 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds, Table II.B1.
a. Includes General Fund reimbursements, which accounted for less than 0.1% of Trust Fund income.

Social Security's Demographic Challenge

The 2019 Trustees Report projects that the number of retired workers will grow rapidly, as members of the post–World War II baby boom continue to retire in increasing numbers. The number of retired workers is projected to double in about 50 years. People are also living longer, and the birth rate is low. As a result, the Trustees project that the ratio of 2.8 workers paying Social Security taxes to each person collecting benefits in 2018 will fall to 2.2 to 1 in 2036. In 2010, tax and other noninterest income did not fully cover program cost, and the 2019 Trustees Report projects that this pattern will continue for at least 75 years if no changes are made to the program. However, the Trustees also project that redemption of trust fund assets will be sufficient to allow for full payment of scheduled benefits until 2035.

Ratio of covered workers to Social Security beneficiaries
Line chart. In 1955, there were 8.6 workers supporting each retiree. By 1974, that ratio had declined to 3.4 workers per beneficiary and remained between 3.1 and 3.4 over the next 34 years before starting to decline again in 2009. Current projections have the ratio continuing to decrease until it reaches 2.2 workers per beneficiary in 2036. Thereafter, it declines to 2.1 workers per beneficiary in 2066, then remains at that level through 2095.
SOURCE: 2019 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds, Table IV.B3 (intermediate assumptions).

The Long-Run Financial Outlook

Social Security is not sustainable over the long term at current benefit and tax rates. In 2010, the program paid more in benefits and expenses than it collected in taxes and other noninterest income, and the 2019 Trustees Report projects this pattern to continue for the next 75 years. The Trustees estimate that the combined OASI and DI trust fund reserves will be depleted by 2035. At that point, payroll taxes and other income will flow into the fund but will be sufficient to pay only about 80% of program costs. As reported in the 2019 Trustees Report, the projected shortfall over the next 75 years is 2.78% of taxable payroll.

Social Security income minus costs as a percentage of taxable payroll
Line chart showing Social Security trust fund balance (income minus costs), expressed as a percentage of taxable payroll, from 2019 to 2093. The trust fund balance is about -1.06 percent of taxable payroll in 2019 and is projected to decline rapidly in coming years. Costs will continue to exceed income and the trust fund will become insolvent in 2035. Annual trust fund balances are projected to range between -3.09 and -4.12 percent of taxable payroll from 2036 to 2093.
SOURCE: 2019 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds, Table IV.B1 (intermediate assumptions).

Abbreviations

AIME
average indexed monthly earnings
DI
Disability Insurance
FICA
Federal Insurance Contributions Act
FRA
full retirement age
HI
Hospital Insurance
OASDI
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance
OASI
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
PIA
primary insurance amount
SECA
Self-Employment Contributions Act
SSA
Social Security Administration
SSI
Supplemental Security Income