How Much the Average Person Collects in Social Security

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When considering all Social Security recipients, the average monthly benefit in 2022 with the cost of living adjustment (COLA) is $1,657. However, as is usually the case when using one average for the entire population, there is quite a bit of nuance that isn’t captured here. Hence, GOBankingRates decided to look at how much people are collecting in Social Security not just with a single average, but by different types of populations and benefits.

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In total, the number of people receiving the type of benefits is over 65 million. Of those, the bulk are receiving Old-Age and Survivors Insurance — a group that includes spouses and children of retired workers. A smaller subset is those receiving disability insurance, and this group can also include spouses and children.

Keep in mind that the Social Security Administration is increasing benefits for 2022, but the data GOBankingRates used is from the most recent SSA Monthly Statistics Snapshot released in November 2021. So, the numbers from the snapshot are a bit lower because they don’t include the 2022 COLA.

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Old-Age and Survivors Insurance

The majority of Social Security recipients are covered under Old-Age and Survivors Insurance. In fact, this group makes up nearly 86% of Social Security recipients and just under 56 million people. Of course, with such a large group, the payout is also large — more than $83 billion is paid out to Old-Age and Survivors Insurance recipients every month. The average monthly benefit is $1,490.85.

However, even this number may not be specific enough. After all, the number most of us will focus on is on retired workers, which is itself a subset of all retirement benefits. As of the November 2021 snapshot, there were 47,248,000 retired workers receiving nearly $74 billion each month. That amounts to an average monthly benefit of $1,563.82 per worker.

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The average for everyone is lower, though, because it also includes spouses and children of retired workers. Spouses of retired workers, a group that makes up 3.3% of all retirement benefit recipients, can receive “as much as half” of the worker’s primary insurance amount. Hence, spouses receive an average of $793.59, for a total payout of $1.73 billion per month.

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In addition to retirement benefits, part of this group is those receiving survivor benefits. While this group is smaller with a total of 5.86 million recipients, there are several distinct groups that receive this kind of benefit. On average, survivor benefits total $1,250.46 monthly with a total payout of $7.3 billion.

All of the following groups may receive survivor benefits:

  • Children of deceased workers
  • Widowed mothers and fathers
  • Nondisabled widow(er)s
  • Disabled widow(er)s
  • Parents of deceased workers

Of these, there are two that receive the bulk of survivor benefits: children of deceased workers and nondisabled widow(er)s. Children of deceased workers make up 3% of beneficiaries and receive an average of $923.05. The total payout is $1.8 billion per month. Nondisabled widow(er)s are 5.5% of all Social Security beneficiaries, receiving an average of $1,467.14 per month. Their total payout is $5.2 billion every month.

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Disability Insurance

Disability Insurance benefits are also disbursed by the Social Security Administration. While it is a much smaller group, it still includes more than 9 million recipients nationally. Disability insurance includes both the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. The SSA notes that while these are two separate programs, the medical requirements are the same.

When considering all disability insurance benefits, the average monthly payout is $1,154.07. This group makes up 14.2% of Social Security recipients compared to 85.8% for Old-Age and Survivors Insurance.

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Within disability insurance, there are disabled workers and their spouses and children. Of course, disabled workers have the largest monthly benefit with an average payout of $1,282.39. They are also the majority of disability insurance recipients, accounting for 12.1% of all Social Security insurance recipients. Their total monthly payout is $10.1 billion.

Children of disabled workers receive most of the remainder, accounting for 1.9% of all recipients. Their average monthly benefit is $403.37 for a total payout of $504 million per month. Spouses make up just 0.1% of Social Security recipients. Their average monthly benefit is $357.24 for a total payout of $35 million.

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About the Author

Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer who specializes in topics such as investing, banking and credit cards. He left his day job in 2019 to pursue his passion for helping people get out of debt and build wealth. You can find his work at outlets such as Business Insider, Forbes Advisor and SoFi.
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