$944,143,000,000: Social Security Administration Spending Hit Record in FY2015; $6,345 For Every American With a Job

Terence P. Jeffrey | November 9, 2015 | 5:28pm EST
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(AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower)

(CNSNews.com) - Spending by the Social Security Administration--which includes payments for Social Security and disability benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income payments and the administrative costs for these programs--hit a record $944,143,000,000 in fiscal 2015, according to data published by the U.S. Treasury.

Even in constant 2015 dollars (with adjustments made using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator), that was up $33,748,280,000 from the $910,394,720,000 the Social Security Administration spent in fiscal 2014.

As of September, there were 59,737,817 beneficiaries getting Social Security or disability benefits, according to the SSA. At the same time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 148,800,000 people who had either a full- or part-time job in the United States. That means there were only 2.49 people with jobs for each of the 59,737,817 Social Security and disability beneficiaries.

At the same time, there were only 121,839,000 people with full-time jobs in the United States in September, according to BLS. Those 121,839,000 full-time job holders equaled about 2.04 for each of the 59,737,817 people getting Social Security or disability benefits.


The $944,143,000,000 spent by the Social Security Administration in fiscal 2015 equaled about $6,345 for each of the 148,800,000 persons in the country with a job as of September. It equaled about $7,749 for each of the 121,839,000 people with a full-time job.

The $944,143,000,000 that the Social Security Administration spent in fiscal 2015 was also $381,637,000,000 (or about 68 percent) more than the $562,506,000,000 that the Treasury says the government spent on the Department of Defense and military programs during the year.

In Table 5 of the Monthly Treasury Statement for September, the Treasury itemized the various elements that led to the $944,143,000,000 in total spending by the Social Security Administration in fiscal 2015.

These included $733,716,000,000 in benefits payments from the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, plus $3,505,000,000 in payments to cover administrative expenses for that fund and $4,258,000,000 in payments to the Railroad Retirement Account.

They also included $143,009,000,000 in disability benefit payments, $2,881,000,000 in payments for administrative expenses for the disability trust fund, and another $419,000,000 in payments to the Railroad Retirement Account.

The Social Security Administration’s expenditures also included $58,901,000,000 for the Supplemental Security Income Program.

“SSI, which went into effect in 1974, is a need-based program that provides cash payments assuring a minimum income for aged, blind, or disabled individuals who have very limited income and assets,” says the Congressional Research Service. “This program is often referred to as a ‘program of last resort’ since individuals who apply for benefits are also required to apply for all other benefits to which they may be entitled (such as Social Security retirement or disability benefits, pensions, or unemployment benefits).6 Although the SSI program is administered by SSA, it is funded through general revenues—not payroll taxes.”

The “SSI Annual Statistical Report, 2014,” published last month by the Social Security Administration, said there were 8,335,704 SSI recipients in 2014. That was down from 8,363,477 in 2013, but up from the 8,262,877 there were in 2012.

In October, the first month of fiscal 2016, the number of Social Security and disability beneficiaries climbed by 94,763, rising from 59,737,817 to 59,832,580.

The 59,832,580 beneficiaries in October included 39,968,311 retired workers, 2,330,148 spouses of retired workers, 641,654 children of retired workers, 6,077,209 survivors of deceased workers, 8,922,858 disabled workers, 143,164 spouses of disabled workers, and 1,749,236 children of disabled workers. 

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