Social Security Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet | February 1, 2001 | By Marilyn Watkins

Executive Summary

45.4 million people received Social Security benefits in 2000, including 4 million children:

  • Social Security is life insurance: 15% of recipients are surviving family members of deceased workers. A widow with two young children collects an average monthly benefit of $1,700. For a  young married worker with two children this is the equivalent of a $330,000 life insurance policy.
  • Social Security is disability insurance: 15% of beneficiaries are disabled workers and their family members. The average monthly benefit for a disabled worker with a spouse and child is $1,311. For a married worker with children this is the equivalent of a $212,000 disability policy.
  • Social Security provides retirement benefits: 70% of beneficiaries are retirees and family members. The average retiree’s monthly benefit is $830 for an individual, or $1,410 for a couple.

Social Security provides a foundation of economic security to all who work and contribute:

  • For 40% of people over age 65, Social Security provides 80% or more of their income. The  typical retired couple receives two-thirds of their income from Social Security.
  • Annual cost-of-living increases and guaranteed lifetime benefits for retirees and their spouses assure that our seniors, disabled workers, and surviving family members can live in dignity.
  • Social Security reduces income inequality.  Low earning workers receive a higher percentage of previous wages in retirement benefits.

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Posted in Social Security