Social Security helps keep half of elderly Americans from poverty: Social Security has become the de facto retirement plan for millions of Americans.

Social Security was never designed as a long-term retirement plan for millions of Americans.  Yet Social Security has become the default retirement plan for many elderly Americans.  In fact, if it were not for Social Security roughly 44 percent of elderly Americans would be in poverty.  This is calculated by how many Americans receive Social Security and the standard poverty income cutoff created by Census figures.  The middle class continues to struggle and falls further behind the curve.  Since Social Security is adjusted via the CPI, it is problematic when the CPI fails to account for bigger changes in prices.  As we’ve highlighted before, inflation is here in big ways.  For older Americans healthcare costs are soaring and this eats deep into their monthly budgets.  Social Security in various forms is now being received by 64million Americans.  This is a big deal especially with so many Americans hitting retirement age in the years to come.

Social Security the last barrier from poverty for millions

It was interesting to read a report highlight that without Social Security, roughly 44 percent of elderly Americans would be in poverty:

“[Figures show] that were it not for Social Security benefits, over 44 percent of the elderly would be poor. With it, that share falls to 9 percent.”

While some might see this in a positive light I see this as more of a precautionary tale.  Many Americans are too close to the financial edge and are winging it in retirement.  The data is troubling:

elderly social security

For more than one-third of retirees Social Security makes up 90 percent of their income.  And how much is the typical benefit?

social security average payment

For your typical retiree the typical monthly benefit is $1,300.  Keep in mind that Social Security isn’t some kind of charity fund.  You pay into it when you work.  We all do.  However, with fewer younger workers and many making lower incomes combined with many older Americans retiring, the math is getting tougher to sustain here.  $1,300 a month does not go far especially when this is your primary source of retirement income.

Many Americans are now drawing on a system that was largely setup to help families for a few years to keep them from poverty.  But this now appears to be a long-term retirement system for older Americans.  Take a look at the raw numbers:

social security

64 million Americans receive some form of funds from the Social Security Administration.  During the last decade, those claiming disability has gone straight through the roof.  This figure requires deeper analysis like the “not in the labor force” category of our employment.  The jump in those claiming disability simply does not go in line with population growth.  The figure held steady for a long period of time but the 2000s saw a steady increase:

disability insurance numbers

The bigger issue here is the structural changes to our economy and many simply not finding work in the current economy.  There are some permanent changes to our economy here and many are depending on these monthly payments to stay out of poverty.  This is scary and doesn’t really speak to the quality of this recovery.  We still have 46 million Americans receiving food stamps.

It should be clear that Social Security has become the default retirement plan for millions of older Americans.  But with inflation hitting in areas that are hard to measure via the CPI, COLA adjustments to Social Security benefits are simply not going to keep up.  Unfortunately many older Americans are going to fall into poverty as the years go by.

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13 Comments on this post


  1. rita said:

    aaaaaaaah my fellow AMERICANS :
    there are still out here those that paid attention to their family members rants about FDR and this social security pyramid scheme project.
    Some even claimed it was voluntary LOL
    Now what would have happened IF we simply had put that amount that they illegally garnished,put that amount into our own savings account from BACK WHEN ?
    I know you know that there remain MILLIONS OUT HERE wanting release from FICA and they can even KEEP WHAT THEY ALREADY STOLE from us.

    December 7th, 2014 at 9:38 am
  2. Lois said:

    I just love it when they lump all of Social Security in one big ball and call it in essence an entitlement program. I love the phrase that it was meant for short term and that seniors are basically misinformed to have thought it was for their retirement!
    First of all, there is a difference between Social Security retirement benefits and disability. Seniors paid into this all of their working lives. Even George Bush admonished that while it was for retirement, it was meant to be only a PART of the 3 legged stool. It’s now being treated like the Obamacare promise…you can keep your physician….
    ONE THING THAT IS NEVER ADDRESSED IS THE FACT THAT SOCIAL SECURITY WOULD BE FINE HAD WE NOT HAD SO MUCH BORROWING FROM THE FUNDS AND NEVER REPAYING!!!! HELLO! ANYBODY LISTENING? Oh, and it’s a fallacy to have illegal aliens come in a contribute because they are young. Yeah they are, but they don’t make enough, and that they make is paid under the table in cash.

    December 7th, 2014 at 9:43 am
  3. Arizona said:

    LIKE USUAL,SSA,is lying,I worked 45 years and get 700 dollars a month,the SSA fund has been used to pay everything under the sun,AND GOVERNMENT has stolen a great deal of the money,CLAIMING they were just borrowing it,BUT IT WAS “NEVER” REPAIDED,the SSA has been raided time after time,BY the government,if so much money hadn’t been flowing into SSA, it would have gone broke years ago,THEY hand out our money like they grew it on a tree in their back yard,”IT WAS NOT MENT TO BE THAT WAY”,IT WAS FOR THE PEOPLE WHO RETIRED,then they started all this 401-k crap,and a thousand other things, claiming you should have invested your money there,LYING THIEFING WHORES,thats who they are……………..

    December 7th, 2014 at 12:56 pm
  4. btruth said:

    That’s what they intended it to be for. However, they would apply the clover-piven satanic Hegelian dialectic strategy to this “social security.” Create DEPENDENTS & then destabilize by withdrawing support, to destabilize a particular area or demographic! We know that the puppet USAcorp, sees the young & old as USELESS, along with the rest of the USELESS EATERS (there words not mine). This all falls under EUGENICS…

    December 7th, 2014 at 1:23 pm
  5. Mary B said:

    The bulk of Social Security recipients are not eligible for food stamps either!

    December 7th, 2014 at 5:22 pm
  6. benny wallace said:

    Try this on for size: I was getting ready to retire, SS contacted me and determined that I would receive about $1400.00 per month. (I was taking retirement at 62) This would be coupled with my partial deputy sheriff retirement and I would be in fair shape. When I applied for SS, they took approx 50% of my SS, because I had worked at a public agency! Shock! I was pissed, asked what would have happened if I had told them I was an illegal, had never worked or obtained a SS #, had never paid a dime into the system: You would receive about $2200.00 a month, be given medical and dental coverage, we would assist you with food stamps, housing and schooling for your kids……..something is really wrong with this pic, and ow I pay $104.90 for part b medicare! This is bass ackwards!

    December 8th, 2014 at 8:21 am
  7. Ron said:

    I have had jobs where i met a lot of elderly people. Most people really don’t make much money and save very little.
    Many retired people end up in something cheap like an RV trailer in a small park and just get by on SS. Covering things like med’s and utilities is often a problem.
    Not everyone is a retired engineer or doctor,spending days at the country club and playing golf. I also met people who prepared for years and had their retirement money wiped out in the market.
    Nursing homes and thinking about being cared for when your old isn’t thought about by many either. It’s really expensive and overwhelming.
    I have told people something i wish i had known when young.
    If you could save 100.00 a month for ten years,the first ten years you work and put it in a retirement fund and leave it there. This would really help when it comes time to retire.Getting someone young to do this? HaHa.

    December 8th, 2014 at 9:14 am
  8. Joe B said:
    December 8th, 2014 at 9:36 am
  9. Joe B said:

    @the first comment
    I will tell you were we’d be.. where we were before ss! How is that hard to understand! if you have an understanding of history and economics you know that the pre 40’s economy was very harsh for most people.

    December 8th, 2014 at 9:40 am
  10. Ski said:

    I wish i could have kept the money i put into this Poncey scheme. I paid the max they could take out because i was in the 100K+ bracket. I retired at 61 ( now 67) and started taking SS at 62 so i could get some of my money back. I am just about even based on what i get every month. I will not last but for a little while longer. I put away funds also so i will not be impoverished after the reset. I feel for my children when they get my age. To the ones that have been living off SS their whole life feel we owe them a free ride. Their free ride will come to an end and then the riots begin.

    December 8th, 2014 at 1:52 pm
  11. sharonsj said:

    Rita, Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme. And in fact it could be saved by one simple change in the law. Right now, anybody who earns over $110,000 does NOT have to pay into SS. If Congress raised toheap so that the very well off and the rich also paid into the system, then all old folks would be able to survive.

    I’d like to remind you that the “average” payment means that half of all recipients get less than $1300 a month. Also, Benny is probably talking about welfare and not SS because illegal aliens don’t qualify for SS. Benny and Rita are typical conservatives who like to repeat what they’ve heard on Rush or Fox without ever bothering to check the facts.

    December 8th, 2014 at 3:29 pm
  12. Really? said:

    I have worked since the age of 15. I’ve worked steady… my whole life. SS states that I cannot retire (collect SS) until I’m in my mid-70’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WT????? Ok… So, I am saving for my retirement on my own…. Yes, they get their FICA etc… But… Investing on my own is what I MUST do to make it… If you are the working class, and not in the top 1% — YOU MUST SAVE because Uncle Sam won’t be there for you when its time for your retirement. If you are working.. Please, do yourself a favor, and look FURTHER into your future with your own little glass ball… and see that no one will cares about your finances, unless you have rich family willing their riches to you.. Wow… that would be awsome. But, 60%+ of the regular Jones’ just blow through there money and go into debt anyway.. so, what’s the point in mentioning saving for a future, when they have to have everything RIGHT NOW? and remain broke… ahhhh…. Really? do you need that sparkling new car outside in your driveway? How much is that payment? Sheesh, I’d rather chuck that car payment into a savings for my future and drive something decent and reliable and “broken in”. – oh, wait… I am. 🙂 <— and I am saving… and… I make less than 40k per year. Way less…

    December 8th, 2014 at 7:25 pm
  13. Hey You said:

    No, I never made any great amount of money. But regardless, we saved about 10% of our income over the years.
    Now, I am on “social security” like a lot of others and it sure helps, However, if the people like Lyndon Johnson had not rolled “SS” into the general funds to pay for, among other excesses, the Viet Nam war, we’d all be in better shape.
    The morale is to realize that government people do what they perceive to be in their own selfish interests. – – And why not?; they will continue to have the power for as long as the federal system continues.

    December 11th, 2014 at 8:06 pm


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