Unmarried Women and Men Both Rely on Social Security in Retirement Ages

Washington, DC- New research from the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) finds that unmarried individuals living alone, women and men, are more likely to rely on Social Security to keep them out of poverty than other older Americans. Since the majority of older women are single, while the majority of older men are married, Social Security plays a particularly important role in lifting unmarried women out of poverty.

"Social Security continues to be one of the most important sources of income among older Americans," said Jeff Hayes, Study Director at IWPR and co-author of the study. "As our population ages, strengthening Social Security benefits needs to be a top priority to ensure that more seniors do not end up living in poverty at the time when they need financial security the most."

Social Security lifts 14.8 million older Americans (aged 65 and older), including more than 6 million unmarried women and men living alone, out of poverty. More whites (12 million) than minorities (2.2 million) rely on Social Security to lift them out of poverty. Seventy-six percent of women aged 75 and older rely on Social Security for more than half their income, compared with 60 percent of those aged 65-74 (for men, 60 and 46 percent).

The study, by Dr. Hayes and former IWPR researcher Jocelyn Fischer, analyzed data from the 2012 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement collected jointly by the Bureau of the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The findings reported in the study refer to calendar year 2011. The study was funded by the Annie E. Casey and Ford foundations. Download.

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