John Bullis: 12 tidbits about Social Security |

John Bullis: 12 tidbits about Social Security

John R. Bullis

I recently attended a special seminar on Social Security. The speaker was a retired manager with 35 years of experience working at the Social Security Administration.

He went through the details of how the various benefits are computed, etc., but his observations were interesting.

Some of the information will not be new to you, but it still is interesting:

Nine out of 10 individuals age 65 or older receive Social Security benefits.

The initial tax was one percent on the first $3,000 of earnings

In 1945, for each of the one million beneficiaries collecting Social Security benefits, there were 46 workers contributing. Now, there are less than three workers contributing for each Social Security beneficiary.

Life expectancies have increased — a male born in 1910 had a life expectancy at birth of only 48.6 years.

In 2010, more than 54 million people collected some kind of Social Security benefit. By 2030, about 71 million will receive a benefit.

When Social Security was set up, fewer people lived past age 65. When age 65 was chosen, the likelihood of reaching that age had the same odds as reaching age 107 does today.

The estimated average 2013 monthly Social Security benefits are: Retired worker $1,261; retired couple $2,048; disabled worker with a spouse and a child $1,919; and young widow or widower with two children $2,592.

The maximum Social Security benefit for a worker retiring at full retirement age in 2013 was $2,533 per month.

Social Security means disability insurance for workers and their families. Almost one in four of today’s 20 year olds will become disabled before reaching age 67.

Almost one in eight of today’s 20 year olds will die before reaching age 67. The survivor’s benefits are an important part of Social Security.

Social Security is not a funded pension system. It is a transfer of wealth from workers to retirees.

The government established age 62 as the official retirement age in 1961 when the eligibility age for men went from 65 to age 62. It was lowered for women in 1956.

While you can learn a lot at the website,, it is OK to call to get an appointment to meet at their office (1-800-772-1213). An appointment is best if you might file and suspend your benefits. But realize, not all Social Security employees know all of the laws and rules. You have various appeal rights if you don’t agree with their answers or explanations.

Did you hear? “Maybe it’s true that life begins at 50…But everything else starts to wear our, fall out, or spread out…,” by Phyllis Diller.

John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior adviser who has served Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Company CPAs.