One of the most important things you can do in planning for retirement is to understand your Social Security benefits. For the majority of people in the United States, Social Security remains a major source of retirement income.
In fact, according to the Social Security Administration, for approximately 61% of Americans, Social Security provides at least half of their total income during their retirement years.1
Initially, Social Security benefits were designed to pay a single lump-sum payment. Then, in 1940, monthly payments were implemented. Ever since, Social Security has been evolving.
The first monthly check was issued to Ida Mae Fuller in 1940 for $22.54. Over the course of two years, she had contributed only $24.75 to the program.2
In 2016, nearly 61 million Americans received $918 billion in annual Social Security benefits—and not just retirement benefits.3 In its current form, Social Security is a collection of programs that include:
The average monthly Social Security benefit received today depends on who's receiving it.
|2017 Estimated Average Monthly Benefit|
|All retired workers||$1,360|
|Aged couple, both receiving Social Security||$2,260|
|Widowed mother and 2 children||$2,695|
|Aged widow(er) alone||$1,300|
|Disabled worker, spouse, and one or more children||$1,996|
|All disabled workers||$1,171|
|Estimated amounts include cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs).
Source: Social Security Administration Fact Sheet, 2016.
1Source: www.ssa.gov, Fast Facts & Figures, 2016
2Source: www.ssa.gov, Social Security History, 2016
3Source: www.ssa.gov, Basic Facts 2016