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A fact about Social Security, from the latest Just Facts Foundation report:

For workers who earned average wages and retired at the age of 65 in 1980, it took 2.8 years of receiving old-age benefits to recover the value of their payroll taxes (including interest). For workers who retired in 2003, it will take 17.4 years. For workers who will retire in 2020, it will take 21.6 years. This assumes Social Security will have enough money to pay scheduled benefits for this entire period, which it is not projected to have. [Internal citations omitted.]

For more, see “Social Security Facts,” by James D. Agresti and Stephen F. Cardone, Just Facts, January 27, 2011.