Entitlement reform always is a popular topic in Washington D.C., no more so when a new administration takes over.
Social Security if the biggest entitlement program of all and always central in any of those discussions. Interestingly, according to annual statistics published by the Social Security Administration, overall recipients fell in 2015 for the second straight year.
As of Dec. 1, 2015, there were 8.31 million people receiving Social Security benefits of some kind. That was down from the 8.355 million in 2014 and the 8.363 million in 2013 when recipients peaked.
The decline was due to fewer people drawing disability payments in the improving economy. There were 7.206 million receiving disability benefits in 2013 and that was down to 7.152 million in 2015. The number of people age 65 and older receiving benefits rose to 2.15 million in 2015, an all-time high.
Winnebago County bucked a couple of those trends. Social Security recipients here rose both in 2014 and 2015 to a record 7,283. Those receiving disability benefits continued to grow as well, up to 6,882. Recipients age 65 and above actually declined slightly from 979 to 970. The amount of money coming into the county monthly from Social Security was $4.36 million, up from $2.99 million just 10 years before.
Where can Transform Rockford affect these trends? An area with an increasingly educated and well-trained workforce will attract better businesses, which in turn will attract younger and more educated workers, which would drive down the percentage of our population receiving Social Security benefits.