NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Social Security Dependency

May 7, 1999

While the top 20 percent of seniors are relatively affluent, nearly all the rest are highly dependent on Social Security payments.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

  • In 1997, Social Security provided at least half of the total income of more than 55 percent of seniors.
  • For at least 75 percent of them, it provided more than one-third of income.
  • Social Security lifted 11.4 million seniors -- or nearly half of the 65 and older population -- out of poverty.
  • That cut the elderly's poverty rate from 47.6 percent to 11.9 percent.

In 1997, the average Social Security retirement benefit was $765 a month, and the average check to 65 year olds was $819 a month.

Source: Kathryn H. Porter, Kathy Larin and Wendell Primus, "Social Security and Poverty Among the Elderly: A National and State Perspective," April 8, 1999, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 820 First Street, N.E., Suite 510, Washington, D.C. 20002, (202) 408-1080; Gene Koretz, "Social Security Is Aptly Named," Business Week, May 10, 1999.


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