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Medicare and Social Security

Description: 

Medicare has two programs: one for the disabled and another for those 65 or older. The reported number of Medicare participants include individuals enrolled in either hospital insurance (part A) or supplementary medical insurance (part B).

The numbers of Medicare enrollees age 65 or older are presented on Arizona Indicators for the United States, Arizona, and the 15 Arizona counties for the years since 2004. Older data by age do not exist; counts are slow to be released. The figures are as of July 1.

Social Security has three programs: old age (retirement), survivors, and disability insurance. In addition to the number enrolled in each of these programs, the number of Social Security participants 65 or older is reported.

The numbers of Social Security recipients age 65 or older are presented on Arizona Indicators for the United States, Arizona, and the 15 Arizona counties for the years since 1999. The figures are as of December. The data are updated the following September.

The numbers of people age 65 or older enrolled in Medicare and Social Security provide proxies for the number of residents 65 or older. Relative to the decennial census count, the interpolated number of Social Security participants age 65 or older in Arizona on April 1 was only 84.6 percent in 2000 and 83.5 percent in 2010.

Data Source: 

For Medicare: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services http://www.cms.hhs.gov/MedicareEnrpts/.For Social Security: U.S. Social Security Administration, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/. The data are in the OASDI Beneficiaries by State and County report — national and state data are in Table 2 and county data are in Table 4. Sum the figures for Men and Women (Aged 65 or older).

Data Quality Comments: 

If the Medicare and Social Security programs were equally capturing the number of residents 65 or older, the Social Security figures in any year would be higher than the Medicare figures because of the later date in each year for which a Social Security count is provided. However, the number of Medicare recipients is larger, suggesting that more individuals age 65 or older sign up for Medicare than receive Social Security benefits.

While the Medicare count appears to be closer to the number of residents 65 or older, the Medicare figures change more erratically from year to year than do the Social Security counts. For any year, inconsistencies exist in the number enrolled in Medicare from report to report issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Thus, the Social Security series, in addition to being more up to date, is the better indicator of the change in the number of people age 65 or older.

iconMedicare Recipients Age 65 or Older, Percent Change

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Visualization Notes:

The annual percent change in the number of Medicare recipients age 65 or older has been more erratic than the percent change in old-age Social Security recipients, even nationally. The erratic nature of the Medicare time series is more apparent by county, with questionable year-to-year changes common.

iconSocial Security Recipients Age 65 or Older, Percent Change

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Visualization Notes:

Changes in the number of those 65 or older receiving Social Security are related in large part to changes in the number of births 65 years earlier, though the aging of immigrants into this age group and the number of deaths also are factors. Nationally and in Arizona, the increases in the number of recipients in the old-age Social Security program have accelerated over the last several years, corresponding to increases in the number of births at the end of the Great Depression. The number of Social Security recipients should rise more rapidly in coming years as the baby-boom generation begins to become eligible for the old-age portion of the program.

The greater growth rates in Arizona than nationally reflect the faster overall growth of the state’s population — subtracting the growth rate of the overall population from the growth rate of old-age Social Security recipients results in a figure equal in Arizona to the national average since 2000. The fastest growth in the old-age Social Security population relative to the overall growth rate has been in counties — Apache and Navajo — that have not had a sizable elderly population. Though Pinal County’s percent change in old-age Social Security recipients has been the fastest in the state, Pinal is the only county in which the Social Security population has increased by less than the overall population.

Data Source

For Medicare: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services http://www.cms.hhs.gov/MedicareEnrpts/.For Social Security: U.S. Social Security Administration, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/. The data are in the OASDI Beneficiaries by State and County report — national and state data are in Table 2 and county data are in Table 4. Sum the figures for Men and Women (Aged 65 or older).