Publication Date

10-3-2008

Abstract

In 2007, the median income of individuals age 65 and older was $17,382. One-fourth of Americans age 65 or older had incomes of less than $10,722 in 2007, while another one-fourth had incomes of $32,160 or more. The median income of households in which either the householder or the householder's spouse was age 65 or older was $29,730. One-fourth of elderly households had incomes of less than $16,244 in 2007, while another one-fourth had incomes of $56,973 or more.

Retirement benefits from Social Security and pensions are the most common sources of income among the aged. In 2007, Social Security paid benefits to 86% of individuals age 65 and older and to 89% of households in which the householder or the householder’s spouse was 65 or older. Social Security is the largest single source of income among the aged. Sixty-nine percent of Social Security beneficiaries age 65 or older received more than half of their income from Social Security in 2007. For 41% of elderly recipients and 29% of elderly households, Social Security accounted for more than 90% of total income in 2007. Just one-third of people age 65 and older, and fewer than one-half of elderly households, received income from a private or public pension in 2007. Among individuals age 65 or older who reported income from a government pension, median pension income was $16,629. Among recipients of private pensions, the median pension received in 2007 was just $7,200.

Of the 36.8 million Americans age 65 and older who were living in households in 2007, 18.9 million (51%) received income from assets, such as interest, dividends, rent, and royalties. Most received small amounts of income from the assets they owned. Of all individuals age 65 or older who received income from assets in 2007, half received less than $1,585. Fifty-seven percent of households with a householder or spouse age 65 or older received income from assets in 2007. Among these households, median income from assets in 2007 was $2,254.

Earnings are an important source of income for older Americans, especially those under age 70. In 2007, median earnings of individuals age 55 to 64 who worked were $37,000, while the median earnings of workers age 65 to 69 were $25,000. Among all workers 65 and older, median earnings in 2007 were $20,000. Poverty among those age 65 and older has fallen from one in three older persons in 1960 to less than one in ten today. Although the overall rate of poverty is relatively low, it remains high for women, minorities, the less-educated, and people over age 80.

Comments

Suggested Citation
Purcell, P. (2007). Income and poverty among older Americans in 2007 (RL32697) [Electronic version]. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service. http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/key_workplace/557/

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