Tens of millions of people rely on Social Security for financial assistance. In addition to the vast number of older Americans who receive retirement benefits, Social Security makes money available to others who qualify for different types of payouts.
The federal government's 2022 fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, and final numbers are now available. They show how much money the Social Security Administration spent on various types of benefits during the course of the year.
Below, you'll see the three biggest outlays from Social Security during fiscal 2022 in reverse order. You'll get to explore what ramifications they have for the government and for those who rely on those payouts to help make ends meet.
Supplemental Security Income: $68.5 billion
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program that's run by the Social Security Administration but differs considerably from the regular Social Security program. Designed for low-income individuals, SSI doesn't require a work history for eligibility, and benefits are subject to means testing and limits for income and financial resources.
The base amount for SSI in 2022 was $841 per month for single recipients and $1,261 for couples. However, because those amounts are subject to reduction, depending on other sources of income, many recipients don't get the full amount. About 7.57 million people received SSI benefits in the most recent month for which data is available, with an average monthly payment of about $624.
Federal Disability Insurance: $145 billion
Younger workers often become eligible for disability benefits under Social Security fairly early in their careers, with eligibility kicking in after as little as 18 months of work for those under age 24. Work requirements steadily rise as workers get older.
More than 8.9 million people received benefits under Social Security's disability insurance program, with average benefits of $1,234 per month.
Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance: $1.07 trillion
The largest and most familiar part of Social Security, by far, is the old-age and survivors insurance part of the program. This is what pays retired workers their retiree benefits, as well as spousal benefits to workers' spouses and survivor benefits to eligible family members.
Out of nearly 57 million people who qualify for monthly benefits under this part of the Social Security program, the vast majority goes to retired workers. However, about 2 million spouses and more than 675,000 children receive monthly benefits, based on the work history of a Social Security recipient who's still alive. Another 5.9 million people receive survivor benefits after an eligible worker passes away.
Look for Social Security payouts to keep going up
Social Security expenditures are likely to go up dramatically during fiscal 2023. Bigger payouts haven't yet kicked in, and monthly spending in October and November remained in the $105 billion to $110 billion range across the Social Security Administration.
However, when the beginning of the new calendar year comes, major cost-of-living adjustments will boost many monthly payouts by 8.7%. That should take the total numbers considerably higher.
Social Security's total expenditures have now started consistently to exceed revenue from payroll taxes and other sources, forcing the program to start using trust fund balances to cover benefits. That should work for the next decade or so. Beyond that, though, would-be Social Security recipients will have to hope that lawmakers find viable solutions to solve the program's long-term financial challenges.
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