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Social Security Is Worth $225,000 for a Typical Retiree

Experts Assess the Value to Retirees, Working Families, and Communities of Color

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For most Americans, the value of their Social Security is the biggest accumulation of dollars they will take into retirement. In fact, for two-thirds of recipients over the age of 65, Social Security is more than half of their income during retirement, according to a new report released today by the non-partisan National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI).

The report, Social Security: An Essential Asset and Insurance Protection for All, details Social Security's vital role in safeguarding Americans families and retirees, with a particular focus on groups at high risk of having inadequate incomes -- older women, African American families, and the Latino community. The report synthesizes findings from research and outreach activities by twelve organizations funded by the Ford Foundation.

The average monthly benefit for retirees is $1,045 in 2007. A 65-year old who wanted to buy a guaranteed income of that size -- with payments that go up with the cost of living and continue for a widowed spouse -- would need to pay an insurance company about $225,000.

And it's not just retirees who benefit from Social Security's protection. Although 69% of Social Security benefits go to retired persons, 17% go to disabled workers and their families, and another 14% to goes survivors.

The value of the disability benefits for disabled workers -- those who cannot work at any job for at least a year because of physical or mental illness and impairments -- was the equivalent of purchasing a $414,000 disability insurance policy in 2006. That represents the total benefits available to a 30-year old worker who becomes disabled after earning between $25,000 and $30,000 a year, has a 28 year-old spouse, a child age two and an infant under the age of one.

Social Security also provides life insurance protection to millions of workers. Benefits are paid to survivors of deceased workers and their dependents. The value of the life insurance protection is worth $433,000 for the young family described above.

Social Security is particularly important to retirees in communities of color.

Among all beneficiaries 65 and older, 42% of single persons and 22% of married couples relied on Social Security for almost all (90% or more) of their income in 2006.

Among African-Americans, the figures were 54% for single persons and 33% for married couples.

Among Latinos, the figures were 62% for single persons and 37% for married couples.

Among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the figures were 55% for single persons and 27% for married couples.

Among Indians and Alaskan Natives, the figures were 61% for single persons and 25% for married couples.

The report is based on a July 11, 2007, meeting in New York at the Ford Foundation headquarters. The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) prepared the report. NASI is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dealing with Social Security, Medicare, and other social insurance programs. Its mission is to promote understanding and informed policymaking on social insurance through research, public education, training, and the open exchange of ideas.

Organizations working with grants from the Ford Foundation reported their research and outreach activities on Social Security at the meeting. The organizations include: the Center for Policy Research on Aging, UCLA; the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College; the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; the Employee Benefit Research Institute; Global Justice Now; the Institute for Women's Policy Research; the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; the National Council of Negro Women; the National Council of La Raza; the Peterson Institute for International Economics; the Urban Institute; and NASI.

For more information or a PDF of the full report, visit the NASI website at For a hardcopy of the report, contact Sarah Cody at or Virginia Reno at

SOURCE National Academy of Social Insurance
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