San Juans benefit under Social Security status quo

If San Juan County residents didn’t receive monthly payments from the Social Security Administration, 6.4 percent of total personal income in the county would be lost, according to data from the Social Security Administration and the Bureau for Economic Analysis

In San Juan County, 4,025 people receive some form of Social Security payment, either an old age pension, a survivor benefit or a disability check.

Social Security beneficiaries represent 26 percent of the total county population.

A greater percentage of people in rural America receive these payments than in urban counties, and so rural counties have higher average payments per resident, according to the Social Security Administration data.

Total Social Security payments in San Juan County amounted to $3,696 per person in 2009.

The national average was $2,199 per person, and in Washington it was $2,137.

Payments have been changing as a proportion of total income.

These payments amounted to 6.1 percent of total income in 1970, 6.8 percent in 1980, 6.3 percent in 1990, 5.2 percent in 2000 and 6.4 percent in 2009.

Such payments are particularly important to rural counties because the money is largely spent in the community.

In counties with small cities, Social Security payments amount to 8.2 percent of total income, and in rural counties such as San Juan County, Social Security totals 9.3 percent of all personal income.

Changes to Social Security are being discussed in Congress, which is looking for ways to balance the larger federal budget.