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Tuesday, January 08, 2013 2:57 PM


Social Security Trends: Beneficiaries, Total Costs, Number of Workers, Ratio of Workers to Beneficiaries


Inquiring minds are digging into social security trends including the numbers of beneficiaries, average costs, total costs, number of workers, and the ratio of workers to beneficiaries.

First, let's take a look at the CNS News report Social Security Ran $47.8 Billion Deficit in Fiscal Year 2012.

The Social Security program ran a $47.8 billion deficit in fiscal 2012 as the program brought in $725.429 billion in cash and paid $773.247 for benefits and overhead expenses, according to official data published by Social Security Administration.

The Social Security Administration also released new data revealing that the number of workers collecting disability benefits hit a record 8,827,795 in December--up from 8,805,353 in November.
With that backdrop, let's look at the actual data to see the underlying trends.

Data Notes



Social Security Beneficiaries December 2012

OASI Trust Fund
Retired Workers & DependentsRetired Worker36,719,288
Spouse2,280,332
Child612,087
Subtotal39,611,707
 
SurvivorsChild1,907,097
Aged Widow(er)3,937,958
Young Widow(er)153,628
Disabled Widow(er)255,472
Parent1,427
Subtotal6,255,582
 
Total OASI45,867,289
DI Trust Fund
Disabled Worker8,827,795
Spouse162,881
Child1,900,220
 
Total DI10,890,896
Total OSASI + DI56,758,158


Social Security Beneficiaries, Costs, Employment

Year Beneficiaries Average Monthly BenefitTotal Annual CostEmploymentE/B Ratio
Dec-6722,979$73.92 $20,383,201,682 66,9002.9114
Dec-6823,886$85.24 $24,432,839,002 69,2452.8989
Dec-6924,709$86.47 $25,638,687,737 71,2402.8832
Dec-7025,701$101.35 $31,257,463,769 70,7902.7544
Dec-7126,817$113.22 $36,435,282,006 72,1082.6888
Dec-7228,066$138.70 $46,712,482,840 75,2702.6819
Dec-7329,514$143.99 $50,996,092,215 78,0352.6440
Dec-7430,576$163.02 $59,813,483,661 77,6572.5398
Dec-7531,862$179.29 $68,549,741,469 78,0172.4486
Dec-7632,835$194.95 $76,815,361,682 80,4482.4500
Dec-7733,923$211.16 $85,958,416,484 84,4082.4882
Dec-7834,453$229.86 $95,032,473,435 88,6742.5738
Dec-7935,013$258.37 $108,555,575,502 90,6692.5896
Dec-8035,526$300.75 $128,213,644,374 90,9362.5597
Dec-8135,930$340.84 $146,956,770,724 90,8842.5295
Dec-8235,778$372.10 $159,755,010,234 88,7562.4808
Dec-8336,034$393.15 $170,001,091,973 92,2102.5590
Dec-8436,439$412.21 $180,244,135,062 96,0872.6370
Dec-8537,027$429.35 $190,768,953,436 98,5872.6626
Dec-8637,683$438.76 $198,407,802,022 100,4842.6665
Dec-8738,171$461.35 $211,323,314,397 103,6342.7150
Dec-8838,613$484.01 $224,268,374,172 106,8712.7678
Dec-8939,141$511.89 $240,431,129,294 108,8092.7799
Dec-9039,825$544.52 $260,224,095,454 109,1202.7400
Dec-9140,587$568.55 $276,908,006,552 108,2622.6674
Dec-9241,504$588.90 $293,296,976,201 109,4162.6363
Dec-9342,243$607.48 $307,943,241,597 112,2042.6561
Dec-9442,882$628.14 $323,229,663,108 116,0552.7064
Dec-9543,386$648.77 $337,772,228,816 118,2082.7246
Dec-9643,736$672.81 $353,113,695,411 121,0022.7666
Dec-9743,971$692.82 $365,565,297,977 124,3572.8282
Dec-9844,246$707.39 $375,585,941,872 127,3592.8785
Dec-9944,595$730.53 $390,940,040,819 130,5332.9270
Dec-0045,415$767.35 $418,187,686,581 132,4812.9171
Dec-0145,877$795.69 $438,050,881,510 130,7202.8493
Dec-0246,444$815.05 $454,253,081,458 130,1752.8028
Dec-0347,038$840.62 $474,497,794,254 130,2592.7692
Dec-0447,688$871.80 $498,889,778,321 132,3162.7746
Dec-0548,434$915.71 $532,222,768,675 134,8142.7834
Dec-0649,123$955.53 $563,260,007,133 136,8822.7865
Dec-0749,865$987.03 $590,618,750,824 137,9822.7671
Dec-0850,898$1,054.38 $643,995,009,294 134,3792.6401
Dec-0952,523$1,064.41 $670,869,765,261 129,3192.4621
Dec-1054,032$1,074.33 $696,579,633,240 130,3462.4124
Dec-1155,404$1,122.89 $746,557,638,566 132,1862.3858
Dec-1256,758$1,152.79 $785,163,217,034 134,0212.3613


Notes for Above Table
Employment and beneficiary numbers are in thousands.
I computed the total annual cost as monthly benefit * 12 * number of beneficiaries. That method will tend to overstate annual costs slightly vs. totaling every month individually. Thus, the total cost may vary slightly from other published figures.

Average Monthly Social Security Benefit



Total Annual Cost of Social Security 1967-Present



Social Security Beneficiaries vs. Total Non-Farm Employment



Ratio of Workers to Social Security Beneficiaries



Social Security Benefits Analysis

  • The ratio of workers to beneficiaries peaked in 1999 at 2.927 to 1.
  • The ratio of workers to beneficiaries was 2.361 to 1 at the end of 2012.
  • The ratio of workers to beneficiaries is falling fast and will continue to fall fast for a decade as the baby boomer population ages.
  • The average payout and the number of payouts are both rising fast
  • Total Social Security payouts (a multiplication of two rising numbers) are on an unsustainable exponential growth path.

The system is currently running a deficit. Trends say that deficit is going to worsen with each passing year unless benefits are cut and/or taxes are hiked.

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