Social Security Primer. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Dawn Nuschler. December 5, 2016
Social Security provides monthly cash benefits to retired or disabled workers and their family members, and to the family members of deceased workers. Among the beneficiary population, approximately 82% are retired or disabled workers, and 18% are the family members of retired, disabled, or deceased workers. In October 2016, nearly 61 million beneficiaries received a total of $75 billion in benefit payments for the month; the average monthly benefit was $1,241.
Workers become eligible for Social Security benefits for themselves and their family members by working in Social Security-covered employment. An estimated 94% of workers in paid employment or self-employment are covered, and their earnings are subject to the Social Security payroll tax. In 2017, employers and employees each pay 6.2% of covered earnings, up to the annual limit on taxable earnings ($127,200 in 2017).
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