2021 Social Security Statistics: Fast Facts & Figures

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

  • 69.8 million people received benefits from programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2020.
  • 5.8 million people were newly awarded Social Security benefits in 2020.
  • 55% of adult Social Security beneficiaries in 2020 were women.
  • 55.0 was the average age of disabled-worker beneficiaries in 2020.
  • 86% of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients received payments because of disability or blindness in 2020.

Fast Facts & Figures answers the most frequently asked questions about the programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It highlights basic program data for the Social Security (retirement, survivors, and disability) and Supplemental Security Income programs. Most of the data come from the Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, which provides detailed data on the programs administered by SSA. Data on trust fund operations are from the 2021 Trustees Report. The tables and charts illustrate the range of program beneficiaries, from the country’s oldest to its youngest citizens. In all, about 69.8 million people receive some type of benefit or assistance.

Tax rates, 2021 (in percent) Program Employee Employer Self-employed Total 7.65 7.65 15.30 OASI 5.30 5.30 10.60 DI 0.90 0.90 1.80 HI a 1.45 1.45 a 2.90 a. Earned income exceeding $200,000 for individual filers and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly is subject to an additional HI tax of 0.90 percent.

Abbreviations

  • AIME average indexed monthly earnings
  • DI Disability Insurance
  • FICA Federal Insurance Contributions Act
  • FRA full retirement age
  • HI Hospital Insurance
  • OASDI Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance
  • OASI Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
  • PIA primary insurance amount
  • SECA Self-Employment Contributions Act
  • SSA Social Security Administration
  • SSI Supplemental Security Income

General Information

  • OASDI & HI Contributions
    • Tax rates
    • Taxes payable
    • Maximum taxable earnings
    • Work credits

General Information

Tax rates, 2021 (in percent)
Program Employee Employer Self-employed
Total 7.65 7.65 15.30
OASI 5.30 5.30 10.60
DI 0.90 0.90 1.80
HI a 1.45 1.45 a 2.90
a. Earned income exceeding $200,000 for individual filers and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly is subject to an additional HI tax of 0.90 percent.
Taxes payable, 2021 (in dollars)
Type of earner OASI DI HI
Average 3,130 532 856
Maximum 7,568 1,285 No limit
Self-employed maximum 15,137 2,570 No limit
Maximum earnings subject to Social Security taxes, 2021 (in dollars)
Program Amount
OASDI 142,800
HI No limit

Earnings required for work credits, 2021: $1,470 for one work credit (one quarter of coverage)

NOTE: A worker may earn a maximum of four credits a year. Doing so in 2021, therefore, requires $5,880 in earnings.

  • OASDI Benefits
    • Benefit payments
    • Cost-of-living adjustment
    • Full retirement age
    • Maximum benefit
    • Benefit formula bend points
    • Average wage index
    • Earnings test
Benefit payments as a percentage of gross domestic product, 2019–2020
Calendar year Total OASI DI
2019 4.89 4.21 0.68
2020 5.23 4.55 0.69
NOTE: Figures are subject to change.

Cost-of-living adjustment, 2021: 1.30%

Age for full retirement benefit for retired workers
Year of birth Full retirement age (FRA)
1937 and earlier 65
1938 65 and 2 months
1939 65 and 4 months
1940 65 and 6 months
1941 65 and 8 months
1942 65 and 10 months
1943–1954 66
1955 66 and 2 months
1956 66 and 4 months
1957 66 and 6 months
1958 66 and 8 months
1959 66 and 10 months
1960 and later 67

Maximum monthly Social Security benefit: $3,148 for workers retiring at FRA in 2021

NOTE: Higher benefits are possible for those who work or delay benefit receipt after reaching FRA.

Benefit formula bend points (for workers with first eligibility in 2021):

Primary insurance amount (PIA) equals
90% of the first $996 of average indexed monthly earnings (AIME), plus
32% of AIME over $996 through $6,002, plus
15% of AIME over $6,002

Average wage index, 2019–2021
Year Dollars Increase from previous year (in percent)
2019 54,099.99 3.7
2020 (estimated) 55,576.94 2.7
2021 (estimated) 59,064.67 6.3
Exempt amounts under the retirement earnings test, 2021 (in dollars)
Age of retired person in 2021 Annually Monthly
Under FRA ($1 for $2 withholding rate) 18,960 1,580
FRA ($1 for $3 withholding rate) a 50,520 4,210
Above FRA No limit No limit
NOTE: Retired-worker beneficiaries younger than FRA have some of their benefit withheld if they have earnings above the exempt amounts.
a. The test applies only to earnings made in months prior to the month of attainment of FRA.
  • SSI & DI Rates and Limits
    • Rates and limits
    • Disability program thresholds
SSI payment rates and resource limits, January 2021 (in dollars)
Program aspect Individual Couple
Federal benefit rate 794 1,191
Resource limit 2,000 3,000
Monthly earnings levels affecting disability program eligibility, 2021 (in dollars)
Determinant Monthly amount
Substantial gainful activity
For nonblind persons 1,310
For blind persons 2,190
Trial work period 940
  • Trust Funds
Trust fund operations, 2020–2021 (in billions of dollars)
Calendar year and trust fund Income Outgo Fund at end of year
2020 (actual)
Total 1,118.1 1,107.2 2,908.3
OASI 968.3 961.0 2,811.7
DI 149.7 146.3 96.6
2021 (estimated)
Total 1,073.8 1,151.0 2,831.0
OASI 930.1 1,005.4 2,736.4
DI 143.7 145.7 94.5
NOTE: Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
  • Poverty Thresholds and Administrative Data
    • Poverty thresholds
    • Expenses
    • Workload
Poverty thresholds, 2020 (in dollars)
Family unit Amount
Aged individual 12,413
Family of two, aged head 15,644
Family of four 26,246
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau as of January 2021 (preliminary estimates).

OASDI administrative expenses: Costs were 0.6% of contributions in calendar year 2020

Workload, fiscal year 2020 (in millions)
Type of filing Number
OASI claims 6.1
DI claims 2.1
SSI applications 1.6

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