Quarter of Seniors Rely Solely on Social Security in Retirement

A recent analysis from the Social Security Administration shows that American seniors rely heavily on federal benefits in retirement — often in the absence of any other income source.

About a quarter of U.S. residents aged 65 and older lived in households that drew 90% or more of their income from Social Security alone in 2014, with about 52% living in households that relied on the benefits for half of their income.

“A retiree’s sources of money are often described as a three-legged stool: Social Security, pension, and savings,” the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College observed in a blog post about the results. “But many seniors’ financial support looks more like a single, sturdy pillar: Social Security.”


These numbers actually represent an improvement over 2012, when 56% of seniors derived at least half their incomes from Social Security and 27% relied on it for more than 90%. But the SSA’s analysis points out that it’s not necessarily the result of better financial planning on behalf of the nation’s retirees.

“These seeming decreases likely reflect better measurement of asset and retirement-account income in the redesigned 2015 [survey], leading to apparent increases in estimated income for 2014 from those sources — although the increases are not substantial enough to affect the reliance on Social Security,” the researchers noted.

The effects were particularly strong for women, single retirees, lower-income seniors, and African-Americans, both the SSA and Boston College noted.

“Disadvantaged retirees typically don’t have pensions or large 401(k)s, and are, not surprisingly, the most dependent on Social Security: Two in three poor and low-income older Americans get 90% of their money from the program,” BC noted.

Written by Alex Spanko

Join the Conversation (1)

see all

This is a professional community. Please use discretion when posting a comment.

  • This article spells out so much of the reality of today’s senior population’s income conditions.

    Remarkably, many of the same seniors own homes and in many cases own them free and clear or have small loan balances on them in comparison to the values!

    What does this mean, it means we have the opportunity to help these people by putting them into a HECM. Sure, we have to locate them and target that market but they are out there. It will take work, doing a lot of research, advertising and holding educational workshops out in your communities.

    The important thing for us to remember is these seniors are there and more of them are coming of age daily!

    John A. Smaldone

string(108) "https://reversemortgagedaily.com/2018/04/05/quarter-of-seniors-rely-solely-on-social-security-in-retirement/"

Share your opinion

[wpli_login_link redirect="https://reversemortgagedaily.com/2018/04/05/quarter-of-seniors-rely-solely-on-social-security-in-retirement/"]