Is living on Social Security in your future?

Only 36% of retired seniors rely on their benefits to produce less than half of all income. 

If you attempt to live substantially on the average Social Security benefit, your income will be about $17,172.

There are few places where that amount will provide a stress free or comfortable retirement.

Half of adults aged 65 and over who live alone don’t have the money to cover their basic needs, according to recent research from the University of Massachusetts Boston. And nearly a quarter of households with two adults 65 and over are also lacking the financial resources to pay for necessities. Source: The Motley Fool

Assuming individuals begin working at age 22, they have over forty years to plan for retirement, with noted unavoidable exceptions, the vast majority of Americans have the ability to retire with income well in excess of Social Security.

What stops us from seeing the need to plan for the future? What makes us spend money we should be saving?

7 comments

  1. I live on my SS now… and continue to save the rest.
    Actually, I am able to live comfortably on LESS than my SS.
    I am totally debt-free and live in a low cost of living urban area.

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  2. I have come to the conclusion in my dottage, that economic statistics, regardless of origin, largely fail to capture the underground economy. I am of the opinion, with only anecdotal and personal evidence, that at a minimum, twenty to thirty per cent of economic activity is off the books, on cooked books, under the table and out of sight.

    The Soviet Union produced mountains of economic statistics which were probably about 75% lies and distortions. I would put ours at about 75% accurate. Not because of government as in the Soviet Union, but our citzenry. From the little guy to the big boys.

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  3. From a USA Today article Nov 2019

    Age 65 and over

    • Total group size: 52.8 million people

    • Group members living below the poverty line: 5.1 million people

    • Group poverty rate: 9.7%

    After age 65, many working Americans start transitioning into retirement. Those who have not saved enough or are not enrolled in a pension fund are at particularly high risk, and may need to continue working into their old age to stay out of poverty. As senior citizens continue to age, the risk of poverty increases, as 11.3% of Americans 75 and older live in poverty compared to 9.7% of those 65 and over.

    The numbers do not look as bad as many people think.

    Except for health care costs almost every other cost goes down during retirement.
    Less gasoline because you do not have to go to work. Less clothing cost, again no work clothes required. In many areas of the country property taxes can be frozen after age 65.
    It all boils down to how well you want to live in retirement should be the driving force as to how much you save for retirement, if you do not have a pension.

    Just remember if you have at least $30,000 per year income you are part of the top 1% in this world. Spend and save those Benjamin wisely.

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  4. The question is not can you live on just Social Security, But why would you want to live on just $17,172 per year in retirement. $17,172 = a wage of $8.26 per hour for a 40 hour week before any taxes. If you only have this amount to live on in retirement you will not live very well. You can do it without any debt of any kind, if you live in the middle of the country, in a small city with your house paid off and your cars paid off. So, if you save nothing for retirement, you better at least limit what your cost are during retirement. You will be on every state and federal means tested program available and with the budget cuts coming many of these programs may not provide what they do today.

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    1. A huge part of my retirement planning was buying the right house in the right neighborhood in the right low cost area of the country and to live totally debt-free so I could save/invest money long before I planned to retire at age 55. I did all that and was able to retire comfortably at age 55. As for “living well”… that depends upon one’s personal definition. Even wealthy people can be unhappy for many reasons other than money. l value many things over money – God, life, health, freedom, intelligence, education, contentment. God has blessed me with all of those gifts… and money!

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  5. “What stops us from seeing the need to plan for the future?” For those born into and continue to live in the lowest economic level, the answer to what is stopping them is simply: money.

    The academic paper which is the basis of The Motley Fool article, says this, ” The Elder Index defines economic security as the income level at which older people are able to cover basic and necessary living expenses and age in their homes, without relying on means-tested supplement programs, loans or gifts. ”

    Many of those in the lowest income level live much of their lives, from birth to death, relying on “means-tested” medicaid, SNAP (aka food stamps), earned income tax credits, rent subsidies and free lunch programs.

    Those who were subsidized by others through their younger years, continue to do so in their old age.

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