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Social Security Primer

Date Published: 
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Congressional Research Service (August 2014)

The Social Security program began in the 1930s and has been modified by Congress many times over the years. Today, 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 81% are retired or disabled workers, and 19% are the family members of retired, disabled, or deceased workers. In June 2014, 58.6 million beneficiaries received a total of almost $70 billion in benefit payments for that month. The average monthly benefit payment was $1,188.