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

By Andrew Salata
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’s clear that Social Security makes a difference on a national, local, and individual level.

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