The number of workers collecting Social Security disability benefits reached a record 8.82 million in December, up from 8.80 million in November, according to new data from the Social Security Administration.
The number of those receiving Social Security benefits — including retirees, dependent family members and their survivors, and disabled workers and their dependent family members — also set a record in December, jumping to 56.75 billion in December from 56.65 billion the previous month.
Overall, the Social Security program ran a $47.8 billion deficit in fiscal 2012 — bringing in $725.4 billion in cash and paying out $773.2 billion in benefits and expenses, according to the data.
The United States had an average of 112.5 million full-time workers in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of that number, 17.8 million people worked full-time for local, state or federal government agencies.
That left an average of only 94.7 million full-time workers in the private sector that year, according to BLS data.
As such, for every 1.67 Americans who worked full-time in the private sector last year, there is now one person collecting Social Security benefits, CNS reports.
But despite the overall deficit, the Social Security Administration booked an on-paper gain of $64.5 billion in the Social Security Trust Funds.
That resulted from the U.S. Treasury paying the trust funds $112.3 billion in interest in fiscal 2012 on the historical surpluses in Social Security taxes that the Treasury took out to cover other spending by the federal government.
As of the end of calendar year 2011, the Social Security Trust Fund equaled approximately $2.678 trillion, according to the agency.
The last time the Social Security program ran a “net cash flow” surplus was in fiscal 2009. That year, the agency’s revenues exceeded its benefit and overhead payments by $19.3 billion.
In fiscal 2010, Social Security ran a $36.8 billion deficit — and it ran a $47.9 billion deficit in fiscal 2011.
The agency administers two Social Security Trust Funds: the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Disability Insurance Trust Fund.
The OASI Trust Fund pays benefits to retired workers and their families and to families of deceased workers, CNS reports. The disability insurance fund provides benefits to disabled workers and their families.
The trusts are required by law to return all surplus revenues to the Treasury — and the Treasury then provides “special issue” non-marketable bonds, essentially electronic IOUs, to the trusts in return for the cash. These "IOUs" become part of the national debt.
When the Treasury pays "interest" that increases the value of the Social Security Trust Funds, it does so by increasing the number of IOUs it owes the trusts, CNS reports.
When the Social Security program runs a “net cash flow” deficit, the Treasury must borrow cash from the public to keep the program financed.
As of Dec. 21, the federal debt was $16.336 trillion, CNS reports.
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