John Bullis: A dozen interesting facts about Social Security
I recently went to 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., and his observations were interesting.
1.) Nine out of 10 people 65 or older receive Social Security benefits.
2.) The initial tax was 1 percent on the first $3,000 of earnings.
3.) In 1945, for each of the 1 million beneficiaries collecting Social Security benefits, 46 workers were contributing. Now, fewer than three workers contribute for each Social Security beneficiary.
4.) Life expectancies have increased; a male born in 1910 had a life expectancy at birth of only 48.6 years.
5.) In 2010 more than 54 million people collected some kind of Social Security benefit. By 2030, about 71 million will receive a benefit.
6.) When Social Security was set up, fewer people lived past 65. When age 65 was chosen, the likelihood of reaching that age had the same odds as reaching age 107 does today.
7.) The estimated average 2013 monthly Social Security benefits are:
Retired worker, $1,261.
Retired couple, $2,048.
Disabled worker with a spouse and child, $1,919.
Young widow or widower with two children, $2,592.
8.) The maximum Social Security benefit for a worker retiring at full retirement age in 2013 was $2,533 per month.
9.) Social Security means disability insurance for workers and their families. Almost one in every four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67.
10.) 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.
11.) Social Security is NOT a funded pension system. It is a transfer of wealth from workers to retirees.
12.) The government established 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 socialsecurity.gov, it is OK to call to get an appointment to meet at their office (800-772-1213). An appointment is best if you might file and suspend your benefits. But realize, not all Social Security employees know all 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 fifty … but everything else starts to wear our, fall out, or spread out …” — 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 Co. CPAs.