If you dare, look closely at the section of your pay stub where your hard-earned money has been deducted. Do you see abbreviations like FICA, OASDI or SS? They refer to the piece going to Social Security.
In 2018, American workers will hand over as much as 6.2% of their pay to support the Social Security system. If you’re self-employed, you'll pay up to 12.4% of what you earn.
The program represents the largest chunk of the federal budget, yet it can seem pretty mundane. But here are some odd facts we bet you don't know about Social Security.
1. Social Security benefits = Mexican economy
The amount of money doled out by Social Security in a single year is almost equivalent to the size of Mexico’s economy. You don't believe it?
In 2018, the Mexican economy is projected to hit $1 trillion, according to the International Monetary Fund. Almost 62 million Americans collected $955 billion worth of Social Security checks in 2017.
2. Social Security isn't broke (yet)
You may have heard that Social Security is broke. Not quite: The program was running a $2.85 trillion surplus in 2017, according to the latest report from the program's trustees. However, those reserves are expected to dwindle so that by 2034, benefits will have to be cut by about 25%.
Democrats want to fix that by raising Social Security taxes on the wealthy. Republicans want to make seniors wait longer to receive higher benefit amounts and face deep cuts if they claim benefits early.
3. Social Security isn’t just for Grandma
In 2016, 4.3 million children 18 and under got their own Social Security checks as dependents of deceased, disabled or retired workers, the federal Social Security Administration says.
The average monthly benefit? About $605. Social Security says the money helps provide for the family so the kids can finish high school.
4. The 20-something who made Social Security history
A guy named John David Sweeney Jr. is the first American recorded as having a Social Security card. He was 23 when he received his card with number 055-09-0001 from the Social Security Administration in 1936.
However, the agency today has no idea who got the very first Social Security card. That would have had the lowest possible number: 001-01-0001.
5. Uncle Sam 'borrows' from Social Security
Another rumor that makes the rounds is that the government "raids" your Social Security money to pay its bills. That's a little extreme, though Uncle Sam does borrow from the trust fund, in a way.
Here's how it works: The rules require that Social Security surpluses be invested in Treasury bonds — in other words, government debt used to pay for other things.
6. 'Aunt Ida' got the first regular Social Security check
The first monthly Social Security check was for $22.54. That's the same as about $352 these days — still a paltry sum.
Ida May Fuller of Brattleboro, Vermont, called “Aunt Ida” by friends and relatives, received the check in early 1940, several weeks after she retired as a legal secretary.
7. It doesn’t necessarily mean financial security
Social Security won’t make you rich. In fact, don't expect to live off of it, though many people try.
If you had toiled your entire life and scraped by on average earnings, then left the workforce in 2017 at age 65, Social Security would now be replacing just a measly 38% of your previous pay.
8. Social Security numbers aren’t recycled
When you die, your Social Security number goes to the grave with you. It’s never reused.
Since 1936, the federal government has cranked out more than 453 million of the nine-figure identifiers. Most of us will be in our graves by the time Social Security runs out of numbers and needs to come up with a Plan B.