Alert
Close

Last chance – give now. Before 2014 ends, help struggling seniors. Donate

Highlights

Open

Life Reimagined $10,000 Sweepstakes
Happy African American couple
You and Your Town Contest-You could win an AARP RealPad
Introducing RealPad by AARP
AARP Auto Buying Program

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

Most Popular
ARTICLES

Viewed

Free Fun!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Work
PROGRAMS

Best Employers for Workers Over 50

See the latest winners of this AARP recognition program.

Employer Resource Center

Attract and retain top talent in a changing workforce.

Latinos Rely on Social Security

1 in 4 retirees depends almost entirely on its benefits

En español | Many older Latinos earned relatively low wages throughout their lives, worked in jobs that didn't offer retirement savings plans and weren't able to save enough for their later years.

See also: Latinos' crucial contributions to Social Security.

Consequently, more than one in four age 65 and up relies almost exclusively on Social Security for living expenses in retirement, according to a report released Thursday.

If not for those monthly benefits, nearly half of Latinos age 65 and older would live in poverty, the report by the University of Southern California Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging found.

In 2008, the report said, 26 percent of Latinos 65 and older had no income other than Social Security, and for another 7 percent, the government benefit made up 90 percent of their income.

"Social Security is currently the only robust, reliable source of retirement income for low-income workers, underscoring the importance of ensuring the program's viability for current, future and retired Latino workers," said institute Executive Director William A. Vega, who coauthored the report with fellow Zachary D. Gassoumis.

Primers cover Asians, African Americans, Latinos

Titled "Impact of Social Security and Proposed Benefit Changes on the Latino Population," (PDF) the report was commissioned by AARP. It was the third primer examining the importance of Social Security benefits among certain ethnic groups. The other two focused on Asian Americans and African Americans.

The report pointed out that though Latinos now number about 50 million and are the fastest-growing ethnic population in the United States, the proportion eligible for Social Security benefits is lower than in other groups. That's because the Latino population is relatively young, which means Latinos will be contributing to Social Security for years to come. Many won't begin receiving benefits until the second part of the century.

Citing U.S. Census data from 2004, the report noted that Latino mothers were less likely than white mothers to return to the labor force even a decade after their children were born.

Latino mothers face problems

As a result, many may have to rely heavily on Social Security to make ends meet when they retire because they won't have employer-sponsored 401(k) plans or other savings to fall back on.

And that could be a problem — retirees in certain cities already find that their Social Security benefit falls short of basic needs.

In Los Angeles and New York City, both of which have higher than average proportions of Latino residents, the average monthly Social Security retiree benefit in 2008 was $1,018 for Latino men and $795 for women. But in 2009 just the rent for a one-bedroom apartment was higher than those payouts — an average $1,061 in Los Angeles and $1,195 in New York, the report said.

"The promise of retirement security that Social Security provides for millions of Americans today is particularly significant to Latinos, both now and in the future, as demonstrated by this important research," AARP board member Fernando Torres-Gil said in a statement.

The report "underscores the need for our elected officials to consider what impact any proposed changes to the program will have on all Americans as they work to strengthen retirement security for future generations."

Carole Fleck is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Jobs You Might Like

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

UPS Store membership discount aarp benefits

Members save 15% on eligible products/services, 5% on UPS shipping at The UPS Store®.

membership adt

Small business owners save 20% on new installation of any new ADT security system.

Mujer en la parte de afuera de so negocio

Free quotes for members from the AARP® Small Business Insurance Program.

Member Benefits

Renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points

Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.