USAA 2016 SSA Dividend is NOT really out of line

Regular Contributor

I've been a member for over 40 years. I have kept a record of my SSA balance and yearly dividends since 1997.


Apparenlty USAA has stated that the 2016 dividend for most members is 2.50% of their SSA balance. Everyone's complaint that their dividend for 2016 is low is correct, but if you  compare it to other years historically you will see that this is nothing new.


The following are the dividend percentage of SSL balance since 1997


1997: 20% (YEAH...that was real nice)

1998: 16% (DITTO)

1999:   7% (Not so DITTO)

2000:   3% (Yeah...that wasn't a good surprise, especially after the previous 3 years)

2001:   3%

2002:   4%

2003:   7%

2004:   5%

2005:   4%

2006:   4%

2007:   4%

2008:   2.5% (Yes. same as this year)

2009:   5%

2010:   6%

2011:   3%

2012:   5%

2013:   6%

2014:   5%

2015:   5.25%

2016:   2.5%


So the 2.5% this year matches the previous low (since I have been keeping records). There were a few 3% years. Seems nowadays mostly between 4-6%. I don't think we have a whole lot to complain about. Of course...I'm getting that 10% 40 year dividend which  is nice.


Thanks for the post and for your long membership Anabiosis.  That is quite a history you have there and we appreciate the loyalty!  Sincerely  -  Justin

After reviewing the math, I draw a different conclusion.  Isn't it funny that the same exact set of facts can cause people to have completely different opinions?  It is all about perspective I suppose. I wouldn't call this year's distribution "out of line", but I would say it is historically low and worth noting.


Based on the numbers you provided: The average the 20 years equates to 5.865%. 


If you take out the highest and the lowest years ( 1997 and 2016) which is a common way to average things out to removed abnormalities, then the aveage is still 5.263%




So the 2.5% is over 50% lower than the 20 year average.  50% change in anything is a lot.  I know if my paycheck was 50% less, I would not be happy. I know if my insurance lowered by 50% I would be very happy. I know if my BMI was 50% less I would be very happy.  I know if my home mortgage interest rates increase by 50% I would not be happy.  I know..... well you get the point.


I'm not really crying about the 2.5%, but I recognize the historically low amount we recieved this year.

A major difference between 2008 and 2016, though, is that in 2008 the economy suffered the worst collapse since the Great Depression. In 2016, the economy is significantly better, yet the distribution is still tied for the lowest in your 20-year history. I'll reserve full judgment until the SSA statements come out in February - perhaps a greater percentage was allocated to the SSA itself instead of the distribution. In general, though, I think this year was surprisingly low.

Yes, it is in the eye of the beholder.


I still tend to believe USAA when they say something. Apparently other people do not.


The stated reason for the SSA fund is to allow USAA to have a pot of money to access in case there is problems. It's not like USAA is taking money away from  us. They are just not giving us as much as they did last year. In all my years of USAA I have NEVER seen my SSA balance go down except to pay for my distribution. So your SSA money is still there, its just that they are not giving it to you as fast as you wish they would. SSA payments come from your SSA balance. I don't believe USAA or their board get any of the money they "do not" pay you. It stays in your SSA account.,


I believe the most influential thing in determining what drives the refund is the claims picture; how much they pay out in claims determines how much they will pay in refunds to SSA. I think one of the responses from USAA this past week said they had higher than normal claims. That means there should be lower than normal SSA payments.


There is not much else to say. I guess you can choose not to believe USAA when they say they have higher than normal claims. But...if one believes that then one should definitely act on their threat to find some other financial institution to go with. Why in the world would you trust your money to a bank you don't trust?


One additional thought. I think a valid reason to move away from USAA is problems with service or less expensive premiums (which others have complained about). If you can find a less expensive "reasonable" alternative by all means go with it. I do not think a valid reason to move away from USAA is their SSA distrubution. I don't understand the people who complain because their distribution can't buy an NFL hat...which means they were  happy with what? $40 and now they are upset because it is $20?! Or someone is getting $35 rather than $70? Yes, that is 50% but in the grand scheme of things, come's only $35, $20 for the whole year. Your situation might be much larger, I don't know. I should probably be more upset than most because mine went from $395 to $189 but it honestly doesn't bother me. That other $206 is still sitting in my SSA account. I have not lost it.

Has the 10% for us +40 year members been approved for this year?

Hi Motivator22! Thank you for your tenured membership! The amount of the Senior Bonus can't be calculated until after the allocation in February 2017. If the USAA Board of Directors authorizes a Senior Bonus, the funds will be sent in February 2017. ~ Stacy

Regarding: joeythedog


quote: A major difference between 2008 and 2016, though, is that in 2008 the economy suffered the worst collapse since the Great Depression. In 2016, the economy is significantly better, yet the distribution is still tied for the lowest in your 20-year history...


I think we just got our answer. In another post someone from USAA stated that the loss claims for 2016 are the worst they have had in their 94 year history. Maybe we should be thankful that we even got a distribution.

Distributions these days are still nice to get,  and I understand why some members think the distribution is lower than it might be.  I have been a member for over 60 years, and remember that in the '60s and 70s our dividends  probably averaged 20% and more.  USAA was much smaller then, and had different  requirements for membership, possibly resulting in lower claim ratios and expenses    The senior bonus is also nice, so I think we should just be glad to get anything in the way of returned premiums..

Hi choctawbob! Thank you very much for your longtime membership! We appreciate the loyalty and hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season! -Marisa