February 16, 2022

Census Report Highlights Older Households’ Sources of Income

While Social Security makes up the largest share of most older adults’ incomes, other sources also provide earnings to people 65 and older. A new report from the United States Census Bureau analyzed older households’ sources of income, the amounts, and how much each source contributed to total household income. The analysis relied upon data from the nationally representative 2018 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), which reflected respondents’ answers about their incomes from 2017.

The report examined six types of income primarily earned by people aged 65 or older, including Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), pension and retirement account income, property income, earnings and other income.

The average total income for households with only people aged 65 or over was $41,830 in 2017. The average Social Security income for those households was $18,250, with Social Security providing 57.5% of overall income.

The report found that 20.4% of adults 65+ still worked.

As expected, lower-income households relied primarily on program income sources such as Social Security and SSI. Meanwhile, higher-income households were reported to receive more of their income from pensions, retirement accounts and assets held outside of a retirement account.

“The data is a useful reminder about how much of seniors’ income comes from Social Security and is important for determining what we need to do to improve retirement security,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “By strengthening and expanding Social Security and continuing to defend pensions from attack, we can help ensure that seniors will enjoy a dignified retirement after a lifetime of hard work.”

“Of course, we must also get health care and prescription drug costs under control,” he added.

According to Stat, the out-of-pocket costs that Medicare enrollees faced at the pharmacy counter accounted for approximately 12% of their median income as of 2019 — and that did not even account for other out-of-pocket medical expenditures such as drug plan and other insurance plan premiums, or for treatment of many other acute or chronic illnesses.

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