About 61 million people collect Social Security benefits each month, and they account for about one in five people in the United States. In about one family in four, someone is receiving Social Security benefits.
About 42 million retired workers receive benefits and another 3 million individuals receive benefits as spouses or children of retired workers. A total of 6 million people receive benefits as survivors of deceased workers, including 3.7 million aged widows and widowers and 1.9 million children. Another 8.8 million people receive benefits as disabled workers, and 1.8 million people receive benefits as the child or spouse of a disabled worker. A total of 3 million children under age 18 receive Social Security and another 1.1 million adults who have been disabled since childhood get benefits as dependents of a retired, disabled or deceased parent.
In 2016, Social Security paid $911 billion in benefits to retired workers, disabled persons, and dependents of retired, disabled or deceased workers. Of the total benefit payments, 71 percent was paid to retirees and their families, 13 percent to survivors of deceased workers, and 16 percent to disabled workers and their families.