Countdown Day 3: Top Ten Facts About Social Security

August 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Continuing our countdown of the top ten facts about Social Security in honor of its 75th anniversary this weekend, here are today’s two:

Almost half of the elderly would be poor without Social Security. Social Security lifts 13 million elderly Americans out of poverty. Almost 90 percent of people aged 65 or older receive some of their family income from Social Security. Without Social Security benefits, almost half of Americans aged 65 and older would have incomes below the poverty line. With Social Security benefits, only one-tenth of the elderly do (as you can see in the chart below).

For more information on Social Security’s poverty-reduction impacts, check out a report we released today finding that it keeps 20 million Americans out of poverty.

Most elderly beneficiaries rely on Social Security for the majority of their income. For more than half of elderly beneficiaries, Social Security provides the majority of cash income — and over one-quarter of retirees have little or no other source of income (as you can see below). Dependence 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 family income for 64 percent of beneficiaries and nearly all of the income for 33 percent of beneficiaries.

UPDATE:   View the rest of the Countdown:  Day Four | Day Two | Day One

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More About Kathy Ruffing

Kathy Ruffing

Kathy Ruffing is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, specializing in federal budget issues.

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