off the charts
POLICY INSIGHT
BEYOND THE NUMBERS

Happy 80th Birthday, Social Security!

Eighty years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law.  To celebrate, we’ve updated our backgrounder on this successful program, which has a long history of popular and presidential support.  Here are ten numbers that highlight Social Security’s broad reach and profound impact:

  • Number of Americans receiving Social Security:  60 million
  • Number of recipients older than Social Security itself: 11 million
  • Average Social Security monthly retirement benefit:  $1,335 (about $16,000 a year)
  • Share of population aged 60-89 who receive or will receive Social Security benefits: 97 percent
  • Share of Social Security beneficiaries aged 85 and older who are women:  66 percent
  • Number of elderly lifted out of poverty by Social Security: 14.7 million
  • Number of children lifted out of poverty by Social Security:  1.2 million
  • Share of elderly who receive most of their income through Social Security:  65 percent
  • Share of elderly who receive all or nearly all of their income through Social Security: 36 percent
  • Social Security administrative costs as a share of benefits:  0.7 percent