Every month, the Social Security Administration releases their monthly beneficiary data. Basically it tells us how many people are collecting from Social Security, and how much they are getting. Any one month of data is fairly useless, but we can dump the data going back to 1967 into a pivot chart and get something interesting like this:
This charts the annual change in beneficiaries from 2005 to 2016. Notice anything at the end of 2008? That is the doubling of the annual enrollment rate as people opted to retire when they couldn’t find jobs in the great recession. It has come down a bit since then, but boomer retirement is keeping it high. I’m not convinced this chart will give us any warning of the next recession, but you never know, and in any case it should lend some confirmation even if it is lagging a bit.
The other reason I follow this is that Social Security is that I have been following the US deficit at my other site USDailyDeficit.com for about 4 years now, and not surprisingly Social Security is a huge % of that problem…but I digress.
To follow along, download the file here: Social_Security_Report
As stated above, there is data going back to 1967 for the retirement program, the disability program, and the survivors program, as well as the total program. There are 9 series for each including absolute changes, % changes, and YOY changes. Enjoy!!
My thoughts are…this data is as good as it has looked since 2008. That’s not exactly great, by the yearly adds are trending down with retirement more or less flat being offset by reductions in disability and survivors.