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Sources of Income for Older Persons

This series of AARP Public Policy Institute reports, written by Ke Bin Wu, examines income sources for persons age 65 and older and the distribution of each income source by gender, race/ethnic group, age, and income quintile. The data in the most recent report are drawn from the March 2007 Current Population Survey; reports for 2004, 2003, 2002, and 1995 are also available.

The current report finds that in 2006:

  • 34.8 million people age 65 and older (96.6% of the older population) had income during the year, with a mean of $26,878 and a median of $16,902
  • About 31 million individuals (86.4%) had Social Security income, with a mean of $11,723 and a median of $11,682
  • About 11 million people (30.7%) had income from pensions and retirement savings (mean $14,566, median $10,080)
  • About 18 million people had interest income from personal savings (mean $4,932, median $978)
  • About 6.7 million people (18.6%) had earnings income (mean $33,758, median $19,250)
  • About 1 million individuals age 65 and older (2.8%) received Supplemental Security Income, and the median SSI benefit was $4,512

Overall, the data show that older persons with low income depend heavily on Social Security and that earnings have become a more important income source for the older population over the last 11 years. (8 pages)

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