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Social Security Helps Millions of Elderly Americans

Almost every elderly American receives Social Security benefits, our updated Top Ten Facts About Social Security points out.  The program helps millions of the elderly stay out of poverty and cover basic expenses.

Fact #6:  Close to half of the elderly would be poor without Social Security.  Social Security lifts nearly 15 million elderly Americans out of poverty.

Without Social Security benefits, more than 40 percent of Americans aged 65 and older would have incomes below the poverty line, all else being equal.  With Social Security benefits, less than 10 percent do.  The program lifts 14.7 million elderly Americans out of poverty.

Fact #7: Most elderly beneficiaries rely on Social Security for the majority of their income.

For 65 percent of elderly beneficiaries, Social Security provides the majority of their cash income.  For 36 percent of them, it provides 90 percent or more of their income.  For 24 percent of them, it is the sole source of retirement income. 

Reliance on Social Security increases with age, as older people are less likely to work and more likely to have depleted their savings.  Among those aged 80 or older, Social Security provides the majority of income for 76 percent of beneficiaries and nearly all of the income for 47 percent of beneficiaries.

Tomorrow’s post in this series will look at Social Security benefits and the program’s long-term finances.