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US households are heavily dependent on Social Security [ClearOnMoney]
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US households are heavily dependent on Social Security

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Commentary

US households are heavily dependent on Social Security

6 Jul 2011 by Jim Fickett.

As of 2008, among households with at least one person aged 65 years or older and receiving Social Security, the mean proportion of income from social security was 65%.

On 7 Jun the Government Accountability Office released a report entitled, RETIREMENT INCOME: Ensuring Income throughout Retirement Requires Difficult Choices. The GAO often produces solid research leading to interesting insights. This particular report doesn't say much that is new, but I found two statistics on Social Security interesting.

First, if one looks at aggregate income across all households with someone aged 65 or older, Social Security accounts for 36.5% of all income. The next largest category is employment income, at 29.7%:

Second, and more striking, if instead of taking all income in aggregate and asking what fraction of that comes from Social Security, you take the proportion of income that comes from Social Security for each household, and average that proportion across all households, that average comes out to 64.8%.

Social Security benefits provide annually inflation-adjusted income for life—and in 2008 were on average the source of 64.8 percent of total income for recipient households with someone aged 65 or older. …

This estimate is the mean proportion of income from Social Security for households in which one or more member is a Social Security recipient aged 65 or older. For 34.2 percent of such households, Social Security benefits were the source of 90 percent or more of income.

Probably this means that there is a small number of relatively well-off households, in which Social Security plays only a small role, and a large number of poorer households where Social Security is most of the available income.