Senior Population/Poverty Rate by State

2012-10-26T00:00:00+00:00October 26th, 2012|General Archives 2012|

Social Security Prevents Elderly Poverty

Social Security plays a vital role in keeping older Americans out of poverty. Social Security reduces elderly poverty dramatically in every state in the nation. While the official poverty rate[1] in 2010 was 15.1 percent—up from 14.3 percent in 2009— for seniors (those age 65 and older), the poverty level remained the same at 9.0 percent, a testament to the value of Social Security as an anti-poverty program. Without this critical safety-net program, 45 percent of elderly Americans would have incomes below the poverty line. Today, nine out of ten people over age 65 receive Social Security benefits. Nearly two out of every three Social Security beneficiaries receive over half of their income from Social Security, and it’s the only source of income for nearly one-in-five seniors. Without Social Security, many older Americans would live in poverty.

People of Color

Social Security is particularly important to aging people of color who are more likely to experience poverty. Social Security plays a significant role in raising the incomes of many people of color above the poverty line. If the monetary benefits from all public programs were excluded from their incomes, more than 6 in 10 African American and Hispanic American elderly would be poor. When Social Security is counted, the rate drops to about 3 in 10.[2] 

Social Security is the primary source of retirement income for older minorities, with more than 25 percent of African Americans and Latinos depending on it for more than 90 percent of their family income. It is the only source of income for two out of every five Latino and African American retiree beneficiary households. Although Social Security accounts for the bulk of retirement wealth for 70 percent of Americans, people of color rely more on its benefits because they are least likely to have significant sources of wealth outside of Social Security upon retirement. In addition to well-documented racial and ethnic disparities in income, the racial wealth gap reflects disparities in receipt of private pensions, investments, savings, and homeownership.[3] Asian Americans are less dependent on Social Security than other aging people of color, but the poverty rate among elderly Asians is still 12 percent, which is higher than that of white Americans. 

 

Number of Seniors

# of Seniors in Poverty

Senior Poverty Rate

Year

2010

2010

2010

U.S.A.

39,131,641

3,537,573

9.0%

Alabama

637,595

68,206

10.7%

Alaska

51,830

2,931

5.7%

Arizona

875,560

67,609

7.7%

Arkansas

404,804

41,376

10.2%

California

4,176,971

407,243

9.7%

Colorado

536,135

43,159

8.1%

Connecticut

484,825

31,933

6.6%

Delaware

125,417

9,688

7.7%

District of Columbia

66,972

8,768

13.1%

Florida

3,208,555

318,622

9.9%

Georgia

1,003,528

106,984

10.7%

Hawaii

193,835

13,201

6.8%

Idaho

193,027

15,216

7.9%

Illinois

1,549,783

129,888

8.4%

Indiana

806,784

54,788

6.8%

Iowa

427,908

28,489

6.7%

Kansas

360,497

27,923

7.7%

Kentucky

556,359

62,524

11.2%

Louisiana

538,561

61,802

11.5%

Maine

203,460

19,248

9.5%

Maryland

687,049

52,908

7.7%

Massachusetts

863,788

75,304

8.7%

Michigan

1,325,714

106,610

8.0%

Minnesota

656,770

54,448

8.3%

Mississippi

369,804

44,105

11.9%

Missouri

803,910

73,197

9.1%

Montana

142,656

10,043

7.0%

Nebraska

234,901

17,598

7.5%

Nevada

323,213

24,403

7.6%

New Hampshire

172,358

10,499

6.1%

New Jersey

1,152,120

83,418

7.2%

New Mexico

269,749

32,386

12.0%

New York

2,524,686

275,073

10.9%

North Carolina

1,198,871

118,791

9.9%

North Dakota

91,961

11,169

12.1%

Ohio

1,560,684

120,633

7.7%

Oklahoma

491,045

45,508

9.3%

Oregon

524,993

41,403

7.9%

Pennsylvania

1,886,618

149,175

7.9%

Rhode Island

144,344

11,783

8.2%

South Carolina

616,863

60,651

9.8%

South Dakota

111,405

12,376

11.1%

Tennessee

833,418

80,712

9.7%

Texas

2,536,727

271,819

10.7%

Utah

246,462

14,862

6.0%

Vermont

87,709

5,959

6.8%

Virginia

954,849

70,863

7.4%

Washington

810,075

55,558

6.9%

West Virginia

289,849

28,610

9.9%

Wisconsin

749,135

53,476

7.1%

Wyoming

67,796

4,635

6.8%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2010 American Community Survey 

[1] U.S. Census Bureau, Income Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the U.S.: 2010, pg. 14.

[2] Cawthorne, Alexandra “Elderly Poverty: The Challenge before Us,” Center for American Progress (July 2010).

[3] Rockeymoore, Maya M. and Lui, Meizhu, Plan for a New Future: The Impact of Social Security Reform on People of Color. Washington, DC: Commission to Modernize Social Security (2011).