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Income from Social Security

Nearly nine in ten older adults receives income from Social Security. Below are statistics on the benefits received by older adults, by average, median and relative importance.

Average Social Security Benefits

In 2019, the average retiree received an estimated $18,034 a year in Social Security benefits. Couples in which both parties received benefits received $30,991 a year. The average for an aged widow or widower was $17,072.

Table 8.  Average Social Security benefits, 2019

Measures of Social Security benefits

Average annual benefit

Average benefits for retired workers


Average benefits received by a couple, both of whom were receiving benefits


Average aged widow/widower benefit


Median Social Security Benefits

The Social Security Administration also publishes median Social Security benefit numbers. These are published less frequently. The 2019 figures show that half of all people age 65 and older received less than $16,270 a year from Social Security.  

Table 9. Median Social Security benefits, by age, 2018

Age group

Median annual benefit

65 and older






Why Social Security is So Important

Social Security benefits account for 50 percent or more of retirement income for three out of five beneficiaries who are age 65 or older. Nearly one out of five received all of their income from Social Security in 2014. For additional information view the statistics here.

Social Security benefits are particularly important to lower-income recipients. More than half of those in the lowest one-fifth (quintile) of older adults receiving Social Security in 2014 received all of their income from Social Security. The full table on income quintiles can be viewed here.