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Who Gets Social Security?

About 57 million people collect Social Security benefits each month, and they account for about one in six people in the United States. In about one household in four, someone is receiving Social Security benefits.

About 37 million retired workers receive benefits and another 2.9 million individuals receive benefits as spouses or children of retired workers. A total of 6.2 million people receive benefits as survivors of deceased workers, including 3.9 million aged widows and widowers and 1.9 million children. Another 8.9 million people receive benefits as disabled workers, and 2.0 million people receive benefits as the child or spouse of a disabled worker. A total of 3.3 million children under age 18 receive Social Security and another 1.0 million adults who have been disabled since childhood get benefits as dependents of a retired, disabled or deceased parent.

Total Beneficiaries: 57,469,232

Social Security Benefits, June 30, 2013
Beneficiaries Number of Beneficiaries Average Monthly Benefit
Retired Workers and their Families 40,298,999  
Retired workers 37,392,395 $1,269
Wives and husbands of retired workers 2,280,207 $632
Children of retired workers 626,397 $620
Survivors of Deceased Workers 6,216,500  
Widows and widowers and parents aged 60 and older 3,900,946 $1,221
Children of deceased workers 1,909,182 $802
Young widows and widowers 148,332 $897
Disabled widows and widowers 256,651 $709
Disabled Workers and their Families 10,953,733  
Disabled workers 8,892,515 $1,129
Wives and husbands of disabled workers 159,999 $303
Children of disabled workers 1,902,019 $337

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In 2012, Social Security paid $786 billion in benefits to retired workers, disabled persons, and dependents of retired, disabled or deceased workers. Of the total benefit payments, 68 percent was paid to retirees and their families, 14 percent to survivors of deceased workers, and 18 percent to disabled workers and their families.

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Read what some NASI members think:*

* The views of NASI members are their own and not an official position of the National Academy of Social Insurance or its funders.