African Americans Rely on Social Security for More of Their Retirement Income

2017-07-10T16:08:22+00:00February 8th, 2016|Aging Issues, Retirement, Social Security|


As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s the perfect time to highlight how important Social Security is to the African American community.  The National Committee’s policy experts have prepared a new analysis of Social Security and African Americans. Here are some key points:

While Social Security is expected to be only one part of a person’s retirement income, many minorities rely on it for more of their income. Because African Americans tend to have lower earnings and less pension coverage than White Americans, Social Security is extremely important for African American retirees.  Based on the most recently available data:

  • Almost three-fourths (72 percent) of African American beneficiaries rely on Social Security for at least half their income, compared to less than two-thirds (65 percent) of all beneficiaries.
  • Almost 50 percent of African American beneficiaries rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.
  • Approximately 37 percent of African American beneficiaries rely on Social Security for all of their income.

Minorities rely more heavily on Social Security due to a lack of other income in retirement. Few elderly minorities receive income from pensions and assets. The greatest disparity is in the receipt of income from assets.  Again, based on the most recent data,

  • 26 percent of African Americans received income from assets, compared with more than 55 percent of Whites.
  • 21 percent of African Americans 65 years old and over reported receiving income from private pensions or annuities, compared to 28 percent of Whites 65 years old and older.

IMPROVING SOCIAL SECURITY IS ESSENTIAL

As we have shown, Social Security is our nation’s most important and effective income security program for American workers, retirees and their families and is even more central to the economic security of African Americans.  Maintaining the adequacy of Social Security by improving it to better meet the needs of America’s seniors is essential.  Toward that end, the National Committee supports a number of improvements to boost Social Security, including the following:

  • Strengthen the COLA. 
  • Improve the Basic Benefit for all Current and Future Beneficiaries. 
  • Enhance the Special Minimum Benefit. 
  • Restore College/Vocational School Student Benefits.