June 26, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Nationally, Locally, and Individually, Social Security makes a Difference

Robert Fenn
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Social Security reaches almost every family in the United States, and at some point touches the
lives of nearly all Americans. It not only helps older Americans, but also workers who become
disabled and families in which a spouse or parent dies. Today, about 159 million people work
and pay Social Security taxes. More than 53 million people receive monthly Social Security
benefits. In 2009 alone, those benefits came to about $675 billion.

In addition to the national impact Social Security has on the U.S. economy, there’s no denying
the difference it makes in communities all across America. In neighborhoods around the nation,
the benefits paid help more than just individual beneficiaries. These people spend their benefit
payments at the local grocery store, the local clothing store, department stores, and mom-and-
pop shops. Benefits are used to pay for goods and services that sustain the local economy,
keep local farmers farming, local retailers retailing, and local contractors contracting. In some
counties, as much as 30 percent of the population receives benefits and those benefits make up as
much as 20 percent of the local economy.

Both at the national and local level, Social Security makes a difference. The average payment
for a retired individual is $1,169 a month, which represents 40 percent of income for an average
retired person. The monthly payment for a disabled person averages $1,065. For the widow or
widower of a working family member, the average payment is $1,104. These are real numbers
that help many individuals make ends meet.

The payments made to beneficiaries help individuals and families to stay afloat. But the
byproduct is that these individuals are using their benefits to help keep the economy going.
It is clear that Social Security makes a difference on a national, local, and individual level.
To learn more about Social Security, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.