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Five Intriguing Facts about Social Security

As most Americans will collect social security benefits during their lifetime, it is safe to say that the program has become an integral part of our society. Despite its impact, many people do not know about the program’s past. Although social security may not sound like the most exciting topic, its history is full of interesting figures, statistics, and trivia. Below are five social security facts that can help put the program into perspective and may surprise even the most avid history buff.

  1. The first social security check: On January 31, 1940, Vermont resident Ida May Fuller became the first person to receive a social security check. Ida worked for three years during which the program was active and her taxable contributions would only total $24.75. She lived to be 100 years of age and collected $22,888.92 in benefits over her lifetime. Her first check was worth $22.54.
  2. The lowest number: The spot for the first social security number (SSN) had originally been reserved for the Social Security Board Chairman John G. Winant as a token of appreciation. However, he as well as another government official would ultimately refuse the gesture and the number was instead issued to the first applicant in New Jersey. Grace D. Owen of Concord applied for benefits and received the SSN of 001-01-0001. Although not the first person to receive an SSN, due to the system for assigning numbers, grace received the lowest number.
  3. An increased impact: Since its inception, social security benefits have nearly quadrupled on average. After adjusting for inflation, the benefits received by Ida May Fuller equate to approximately $4,650 annually. In 2015, the average social security recipient collected $16,000 in annual benefits. Despite this increase, benefits may not be enough for the overwhelming majority of Americans relying on social security as part, or all, of their post-retirement income.
  4. A greater scope: While the program may have originated out of a desire to provide retirees with financial support, today, only 52% of recipients are retired workers. The program now provides funds for disabled workers, dependents of recipients, and the family of deceased recipients. According to statistics provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA), an estimated 20% of recipients are younger than 62, the age at which a person becomes eligible for post-retirement benefits.
  5. Looking towards the future: It is difficult to predict what the next two decades will hold for social security. With the ever-increasing number of recipients, the question of sustainability has been a topic of intense debate and speculation. The program’s beginnings saw that each retiree was supported by as many as 9 workers. Today, each beneficiary is supported by less than 3 workers. Extrapolating SSA data, analysts predict that by 2030, the ratio will be 2 to 1.

The Importance of Social Security

While no one is sure what the next chapter of social security will look like, these facts highlight the problems the program will face in the future. As pressure continues to build, it may become harder for the average American to receive the benefits they need. Currently, it is estimated that nearly 3 of every 5 people who apply for social security disability benefits are initially denied. At Disability Action Advocates, we want to simplify this process and help you to reach your goals. Our Sacramento social security disability attorney has more than 20 years of legal experience and has helped thousands of people in your situation.

Contact our office today or schedule a consultation to see how we can help.


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