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Income of Today’s Older Adults

As concern about the adequacy of the nation's retirement income programs moves to the forefront of public debate, policymakers and the public are looking to statistics to argue for or against the need for reform. Because there is a wide range of data from a variety of sources, the statistics can be confusing.


Why Pensions Are Important

This fact sheet explains the role pensions play in the overall retirement security of American workers, retirees, and their families.


How many American workers participate in workplace retirement plans?

Annual figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics help paint a picture of the number of Americans who participate in a retirement plan at work.  Typically in any year only half of workers participate in a retirement plan at work.  In 2018 participation by all civilian workers, full and part-time, was 56 percent.   The information below comes from the Bureau of Labor Statist


How Much Is Saved in 401(k)s

Increasingly, retirement savings plans have become the way American workers accumulate the money they will need to supplement their Social Security payments in retirement.


Income from Other Sources

Older adults also receive income from other sources, such as earnings from work, assets, and public assistance.


Sources of Income for Older Adults

Today’s older adults typically have a number of sources of income. For most, the primary source of income is Social Security. Other sources are income from investments and other assets, pensions and other retirement plans, earnings from work and, for a small percentage, public assistance programs and veterans benefits.


Income from Pensions

In 2019, pension benefits provided income to nearly one third of older adults. Below are some statistics on the median benefits received by older adults.


Income from Social Security

Nearly nine in ten older adults receives income from Social Security. Below are statistics on the benefits received by older adults, by average, median and relative importance.


Income Received By Different Groups

For a clearer picture of the economic status of today’s older adults, it is helpful to look at breakdowns of statistics by age, marital status, gender, and race, in addition to looking at overall income figures.