This is the fifth installment in our Social Security Works series. So far, we have seen how Social Security works for America, how Social Security works for women, how Social Security works for people of color, how Social Security works for people with disabilities, and today we will show how Social Security works for Veterans.
Veterans and their families make up almost 40 percent of the adult Social Security beneficiary population. This means two out of every five beneficiaries either are veterans or reside with family members who are veterans.
• Nearly one out of every four adult Social Security beneficiaries has served in the military
• Of the 23.1 million veterans, 9.4 million veterans collect Social Security benefits
• The largest number of veterans receiving Social Security benefits served during World War II: there are 3.6 million such veterans
There is a low incidence of poverty and near poverty among veterans compared to nonveterans.
• Among veterans aged 62-74, only 3.5 percent are poor and only 11.5 percent have income below 150 percent of poverty
• For older veterans aged 75-84, 3.6 percent are poor and 15.0 percent have income below 150 percent of poverty
• In the oldest age group, veterans aged 85 or older, only 2.9 percent are poor and 12.8 percent have income below 150 percent of poverty
• Ninety-seven percent of veterans receiving Social Security are male compared with only 43 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries
• Social Security benefit amounts are higher among veterans than among nonveterans, even when the sample of nonveterans is restricted to men
While the overall Social Security beneficiary population doubled from 1968 through 2004, the number of veterans receiving Social Security more than quadrupled, increasing from just over 2 million to 9.4 million veterans, during the same period.
• The percentage of Social Security beneficiaries who have served in the military has approximately doubled since the late 1960s
• Among the veteran population receiving Social Security benefits, 73 percent are married and about 83 percent have finished high school, significantly more than for the overall Social Security beneficiary population where 54 percent of beneficiaries are married and 73 percent of beneficiaries have finished high school
Military personnel have been covered under Social Security since 1957, and those who served in 2001 or earlier receive special credits that augment their earnings for the purpose of computing Social Security benefits. Congress has also provided special credits for veterans who served before the military was brought under the Social Security system.
• For each month of active-duty service from September 1940 through 1956, a person is credited with $160 of earnings for the purpose of computing Social Security benefits
• For those who served between 1957 and 1977, credits equal $300 for each quarter of active-duty pay
• Those serving between 1978 and 2001 receive credits equal to an additional $100 in earnings for each $300 they receive in active-duty pay (total credits may not exceed $1,200 a year)
Social Security works for Veterans, Social Security works for America.
This blog series is a joint project of America’s Future and Social Security Works.