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In FY 2018 the federal government spent $988 billion on Social Security.
This page shows the current trends in Social Security spending on the OASI and DI programs. There are also charts on OASI and DI spending history. See here for a general history of entitlement spending. See here for spending forecast from latest OASDI Trustees Report.
Social Security benefits cost about 5 percent of GDP each year.
Chart S.13f: Social Security Spending since 1935
Social Security, the federal old-age pension program, was passed in 1935 in time for the 1936 presidential election. The first old-age benefits were distributed in 1938.
Social Security benefits were modest in the early years and did not exceed one percent of GDP until 1955. But the program cost increased rapidly, reaching 2.2 percent of GDP in 1960.
Benefit increase slowed somewhat in the 1960s, reaching 3.2 percent in 1971. Costs increased again in the early 1970s before peaking at 4.81 percent in 1983.
Social Security benefits as a percent of GDP slowly declined for the rest of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s down to a low of 4.0 percent of GDP in 2005. But the Great Recession o 2007-09 bumped Social Security up to 4.72 percent of GDP in 2010. Costs are expected to breach 5 percent of GDP in 2018.
Chart S.14f: Social Security Spending
The Social Security Disability Insurance Program was enacted in the 1950s and payments began in 1958. Eligibility requirements relaxed in the 1980s.
Starting from zero in 1957 Social Security’s Disability Insurance program reached 0.5 percent of GDP in 1975.
Peaking at 0.55 percent of GDP in the early 1980s, payments declined to a low of 0.43 percent in 1990. But then payments increased, breaching 0.5 percent of GDP in 1993 and 0.6 percent of GDP in 2002. DI reached 0.7 percent of GDP in 2006 and peaked at 0.85 percent of GDP in 2011-13; DI spending is expected to decline to 0.76 percent of GDP by 2019.
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ENTITLEMENT SPENDING history.
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Spending data is from official government sources.
Detailed table of spending data sources here.
Federal spending data begins in 1792.
State and local spending data begins in 1820.
State and local spending data for individual states begins in 1957.
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> US, State Pop FY17
Sources for 2014:
Sources for 2023:
GDP, GO: GDP, GO Sources
Federal: Fed. Budget: Hist. Tables 3.2, 5.1, 7.1
State and Local: State and Local Gov. Finances
'Guesstimated' by projecting the latest change in reported spending forward to future years
FY 2018 Outcomes