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Sources for Income of Older Adults

Source for Population Figure
Source for Consumer Units Data

 

Table 1. Median Income of the Population 65+

Sources:

Note: Census Bureau publications also report a second median household income figure. This lower figure, which is from the same Current Population Survey, includes households with no income (1% of total) and does not include households where the head of the household is younger than age 65, even though the spouse or partner of the household head is age 65 or older.

  • Income of Aged Units: Social Security Administration, “Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2012.” April 2014.
    Data: March 2013 Current Population Survey
    Note: The different years reflect the most recent information from different sources.

 

Table A. Average Income Figures

Table A. Measures of average (mean) income of the population age 65 and older
Demographic unit
Income
Year

Individuals

$28,778

2008

Consumer units

$44,713

2012

Sources:

  • Average Income of Consumer Units:  “Consumer Expenditures in 2012,” U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2014.
    Data: 2012 Consumer Expenditure Survey

 

Table 2. Income of Older Adults without Earnings

Source

 

Table 3. Income Differences by Age

Sources:

 

Table 4. Income Differences by Marital Status

Sources:

 

Table 5. Income Differences by Gender

Source:

 

Table 6. Income Differences by Race and Ethnicity

Source:

 

Table 7. Different Sources of Income for Older Adults

Sources:

 

Table 8. Average Social Security Benefits

Source:

  • Social Security Administration. “2013 Social Security Changes” October 2012.  
    Data: Social Security Administration Benefit Records
    Note: Social Security benefits are usually stated as average rather than median amounts. They are calculated by adding all benefits paid to a particular group and dividing that figure by the number of beneficiaries in that group.  Social Security figures are different from other income statistics because there is a limit on the amount of income that can be taken into account for the purpose of calculating Social Security benefits. Average Social Security numbers present realistic figures because no distortion results from the fact that a relatively small proportion of older adults have very high incomes. These estimates were published in October 2012 anticipating 2013 cost-of-living increases.
    For more recent figures see:  Social Security Administration, Office of Policy, "Monthly Statistical Snapshot," Table 2.
    Data: Social Security Administration Benefit Records, 2013.

 

Table 9. Median Social Security Benefits, by Age

Source:

  • March 2014 Current Population Survey, PINC-08.
    Note: The median figure is similar for several age groups because it comes from a survey, not actual payment data, and reflects the fact that there is relatively little difference between the highest and lowest Social Security benefit amounts.

Table B. Importance of Social Security Benefits, by Age

Table B. Percentage of aged beneficiary units age 65 and older receiving Social Security benefits, by age and relative importance of benefits to total income, 2012

Age

Percentage of aged beneficiary units age 65 and older where the relative importance of Social Security benefits to total income is:

50% or more

90% or more

100%

65+

  65%

  36%

  24%

65-69

50

25

18

70-74

62

33

22

75-79

70

39

25

80+

77

47

30

Source:

  • Social Security Administration. “Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2012.” April 2014.
    Data: March 2013 Current Population Survey
    Note: Beneficiary units include retired-worker benefits, dependents' or survivors' benefits, disability benefits, transitionally insured benefits, and special age-72 benefits.

 

Table C. Importance of Social Security Benefits, by Income

Table C. Percentage of aged beneficiary units age 65 and older receiving Social Security benefits, by income quintile and relative importance of benefits to total income, 2012

Income quintile

Percentage of aged beneficiary units age 65 and older where the relative importance of Social Security benefits to total income is:

50% or more

90% or more

100%

First

    97%

 83%

  65%

Second

94

65

41

Third

78

30

15

Fourth

48

6

  3

Fifth

5

0.2

  < 1*

Source:

  • Social Security Administration. “Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2012.” April 2014.
    Data: March 2013 Current Population Survey.
    Note: Quintiles are calculated by ranking the population from lowest to highest income and then dividing it into five equal groups.
    * Number indicated is 0.1%.

Table 10. Median Pension Benefit for Persons Age 65 and Older, by Type

Source:

  • March 2014 Current Population Survey, PINC-08
    Note: The higher amount for public pension benefits than private pension benefits may be attributable to the fact that government employees in some states and in many county and municipal plans are not covered by Social Security so have larger pensions to compensate for this. Also, Federal employees who worked before 1984 and opted to stay under the Civil Service Retirement System are not covered by Social Security.

Table 11. Median Income of Retiree Aged Units, by Retirement Benefit Type

Source:

 

Table 12. Income from Financial Assets for Persons and Aged Units Age 65 and Older

Sources:

 

Table 13. Median Income of Persons Age 65 and Older with Income from Earnings, by Age

Sources:

 

Table 14. Median Benefit for Persons Age 65 and Older with Income from Public Assistance, by Age

Source:

 

  • Information about SSI eligibility rules is available here.  
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