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15 Things You Didn’t Know About Social Security

April is National Social Security Month so in honor of this critical program, we present 15 things you probably did not know about Social Security:

  1. Before the Social Security program was started, the Civil War Pension program was the first national benefits program and it started in 1862.
  2. The Social Security program was founded by Franklin Roosevelt on August 14, 1935 when he signed the Social Security Act into law.
  3. The lowest Social Security number was issued to Grace Dorothy Owen of New Hampshire; her number was 001-01-0001.
  4. The original Social Security program provided only for old age benefits.
  5. The first Social Security retirement benefit was received by Ernest Ackerman, a retired motorman in Cleveland. He received a lump sum benefit of 17 cents.
  6. The smallest payment ever made was for 5 cents.
  7. Survivor (1939), disability (1954) and health care benefits were added to the original Social Security program over the years; the addition of health care benefits through the introduction of Medicare in 1965 was the most significant change to Social Security since it started.
  8. Automatic cost-of-living adjustments were added in 1972.
  9. Social Security benefits are paid for through payroll taxes with three parts: Social Security tax (6.2% of pay up to $128,400 in 2018), a Medicare tax of 1.45% (no cap) and an additional Medicare tax for individuals earning more than $200,000 and households with earnings greater than $250,000.
  10. About one in five U.S. citizens receive Social Security benefits every year (that’s 66 million if you’re counting).
  11. The average monthly Social Security benefit was $1,342 in 2017.
  12. The maximum monthly Social Security benefit for someone who retired at age 66 in 2017 was $2,687.
  13. The age at which you receive your full retirement benefits is called your full retirement age (FRA). It depends on when you were born. If you born before 1943, your FRA is age 65 and some months; born between 1943 and 1954, it’s age 66; born after 1954 and before 1960 it’s age 66 and a few months; born after 1960, it’s age 67.
  14. Your Social Security benefits increase in value by 8% for every year you wait to start taking benefits after your FRA until age 70; then the benefit does not increase (other than cost-of-living adjustments.)
  15. The Medicare Part A Trust fund will be depleted in 2029 if nothing is done; the Trust Fund that pays for old-age benefits, survivor and disability benefits will run out of money in 2034. For more information, see the 2017 Medicare and Social Security Trust Report at this link.

If you have not already done so, please register for your online Social Security account by going to www.ssa.gov and signing up for your “my Social Security” account.