Published on: February 3, 2015
Many of us think we know Social Security, and understand how it distributes benefits based on working credits and disability. However, there are many surprising truths you may be unaware of, pertaining to Social Security benefits. When applying for benefits, understanding how the SSA operates is just as integral a factor as evidence for your claims or disability.
1.) 61.9 Million Receive Social Security Benefits
That’s an estimated 20% of the entire U.S. population. These benefits are not limited to disability, but are staggering all the same. The high number of benefits granted through the Social Security Administration can be attributed largely to age, which is made clear in our next stat.
2.) Women Make Up 5% More of the Recipient Population Than Men
This is because women have a greater life expectancy than men, and thus need and receive Social Security benefits for longer periods of time. USA Today estimates that women live roughly 5 years more than men, until around 81 years old (compared to age 76 for men).
3.) The SSA Provides Majority Income for Over 60% of Recipients
One of the most surprising statistics in this list is that the SSA’s benefits account for over half of recipients’ incomes in a majority of cases (around 64%). What this means is that, for a majority of those receiving support and benefits through Social Security, these benefits account for a majority portion of their income; without it, they would likely be unable to support themselves or their families.
4.) Social Security Taxes are Split 50/50 Between Employee and Employer
In the Social Security Administration’s 2013 Fast Facts & Figures report, it was stated that employers pay for half of their employee’s contributions to social security. Self-employed professionals must contribute roughly 12% of their annual income to Social Security (both the employee and employer portion), whereas those employed by a parent company are only required to contribute half of that every year.
5.) The Average Age of Those Receiving Disability Benefits is 53
As for disability benefits, specifically, it’s interesting that the average recipient age is 53, which is much younger than the average age of those receiving standard Social Security benefits; retirement benefits cannot be received until age 62. This statistic goes to prove that there is no minimum age standard for receiving disability benefits; millions of Americans, from 30-50, receive financial support to make up for wages lost due to the onset of disability.
6.) Hundreds of Thousands of Benefits are Cancelled Every Year
Just in 2012 alone, the SSA estimated that it terminated benefits for over 700,000 recipients in its programs. This wasn’t because the beneficiaries were cured or that the SSA needed to restrict its payments… it was because those recipients were determined to no longer be disabled. Just as in the initial application process, providing evidence and medical documentation of your condition is a crucial step in keeping the benefits coming throughout your disability.
7.) The Maximum Monthly Benefit is $2,533
The highest possible benefits ($2,533/mo) are paid to those recipients who wait until their full retirement age to receive benefits. Applying early means you’ll get your Social Security benefits sooner, but you’ll receive less monthly as an election of benefits prior to full retirement age results in an actuarial reduction of the benefit amount. For the highest monthly benefits, wait until full retirement age; you could potentially earn benefits of over $30k annually.
8.) 1 in 4 Current Workers Will Experience Performance-Affecting Disability
Over 25% of all current working Americans are likely to experience a disabling condition in their working lifetime… and workplace accidents aren’t even a major part of the problem. In most cases, the onset of heart disease, cancer and mental disorders account for disability in the workforce (over 60% of instances).
9.) Over 40% of Working Americans Don’t Know How to Find Disability Insurance
One of the more surprising facts about social security benefits and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is that large portions of working Americans are unsure of how to apply for and acquire SSDI.
10.) Benefits Make up Over 90% of Income for 35% of Recipients
This is the most shocking statistic of all: that Social Security benefits (for disability and otherwise) make up for over 90% of income in 35% of cases. This breaks down to 22% of cases for married beneficiaries, and 45% of non-married beneficiaries, as reported by the SSA in 2011.
This explains the importance of Social Security benefits for millions of Americans, and why it’s so important to prepare for your application properly. For most, disability benefits are a lifeline, in a difficult and stressful situation.
It’s not worth the risk to apply for disability benefits and SSDI alone; hiring an experienced professional to guide you through the process will ensure that you have the best possible chance to receive the benefits you need to maintain the standard of life you experienced before the onset of your disability.