A weekly presentation of downloadable charts and short analyses designed to graphically illustrate important economic issues. Updated every Wednesday.
Snapshot for April 28, 1999
The importance of Social Security to seniors
Social Security benefits significantly reduce poverty among seniors. While currently 12% of the elderly live in poverty, more than 50% of seniors would live in poverty without Social Security. Thirty percent of elderly beneficiaries derive 90% or more of their income from Social Security benefits, and another two-thirds of seniors receive 50% or more of their total income from the program.
The median income for elderly households is currently below $18,000, even after including Social Security benefits. For middle-income retirees, Social Security benefits provide 66% of all income. Although most elderly households (headed by someone 65 or above) receive some income from personal savings and other assets, those sources contribute just 10% to the total household income of the typical middle-income senior. Employment-based pensions contribute another 14% of income for this group.
Source: Social Security Administration and Fixing Social Security: The Clinton Plan and Its Alternatives (1999) by Edith Rasell and Jeff Faux. Economic Policy Institute.
Check out the archive for past Economic Snapshots.