urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

Social Security & Medicare Lifetime Benefits

When discussing entitlement reform options, a helpful starting point is the package of benefits received versus contributions made within Social Security or, more broadly, within Social Security and Medicare.

How much will you pay in Social Security and Medicare taxes over your lifetime? And how much can you expect to get back in benefits? It depends on whether you’re married, when you retire, and how much you’ve earned over a lifetime.

Tables from C. Eugene SteuerleCaleb Quakenbush, and Stephanie Rennane provide estimates of the lifetime value of Social Security and Medicare benefits and taxes for typical workers in different generations at various earning levels.

The “lifetime value of taxes” is based upon the value of accumulated taxes, as if those taxes were put into an account that earned a 2 percent real rate of return (that is, 2 percent plus inflation). The “lifetime value of benefits” represents the amount needed in an account (also earning a 2 percent real interest rate) to pay for those benefits.
See the tables:

2012 Tables | PDF

2011 Tables | PDF

Additional information about the lifetime benefits tables:

More by Eugene Steuerle on lifetime Social Security benefits:

Expert Voices:How Lifetime Benefits and Contributions Point the Way Toward Reforming Our Senior Entitlement Programs | PDF

Government We Deserve:The Pointless Debate over the Social Security Trust Fund.” | PDF

Testimony before U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on Social Security | PDF

Social Security and the Budget | PDF

Budget Crisis at the Door | PDF

Book: Retooling Social Security for the 21st Century: Right and Wrong Approaches to Reform
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