How many people pay into Social Security?

Farm Forum

QHow many people are working and paying into Social Security?

AAs of 2011, about 158.6 million workers had earnings taxable under the Social Security program. About 140.9 million had only wages, 10.4 million had only self-employment income, and 7.3 million had both. From this work, SSA taxable earnings totaled $5.487 trillion, which includes earnings up to the taxable maximum of $106,800, and provided about 680 billion dollars in Social Security taxes.

This information is from the SSA publication, Earnings and Employment Data for Workers Covered Under Social Security and Medicare, by State and County, 2011. This annual report presents employment and earnings data by sex and age for people in employment covered under Social Security and Medicare. It has easily read tables with national and state data, to the individual county level. Read it at

QHow many people receiving Social Security benefits are also working?

AThe above publication does not provide information based on whether the worker received Social Security or not, so a specific answer is not readily available. Through SSA retirement, survivors and disability programs, plus family benefits, payments go to beneficiaries of all ages, many of whom might be working.

Based on Census Bureau household survey data, in 2012 approximately 28 percent of those aged 65 or older had employment earnings. Not all of those surveyed were receiving Social Security benefits yet but nearly 90 percent did. Employment greatly varied based on age. For those surveyed in the age 65-69 range, 49.7 percent had earnings. By age 70-74 this dropped to 30.6 percent and to 19.8 percent for people aged 75-79. This is reported in the Income of the Aged Chartbook, 2012, on the SSA website at

Did you know? In addition to helping fund current Social Security benefits, your earnings are used to compute your future retirement amount. Your own Social Security record is on the SSA Statement, along with several estimates to help your family financial planning. View your personal SSA Statement online by creating your my Social Security account at

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at Read his online articles at