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Happy 78th birthday, Social Security. Since FDR signed you into law on Aug. 14, 1935, you’ve survived wars, budget cuts and changing demographics. Today you may be older than most of your beneficiaries, but you’re still central to secure retirement.

Related: How Has Social Security Changed Lives? In Millions of Ways

social security cardHere are some surprising facts about the program:

  • The number of people who received Social security benefits last year – 61.9 million – is nearly half of what the U.S. population was in 1935.
  • Even after factoring for inflation, couples 65 and older had median income that was 122 percent higher in 2011 than in 1962, Social Security estimates.
  • Nearly three-quarters of unmarried beneficiaries 65 and older rely on Social Security for at least half their income.
  • Nearly half of unmarried women 65 and older rely on Social Security for 90 percent of their income.
  • More than one-third of Social Security recipients aren’t retirees – they’re disabled workers, children and spouses.
  • Last year 2.9 workers paid into Social Security for every person who received benefits. That figure will fall to 2.1 by 2031.
  • The Social Security Administration tracks retirement programs in more than 170 countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe.

 

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