Retirees rely on Social Security the most in these US cities

A pen and a pair of glasses sit on top of a Social Security card and a $100 bill.

A pen and a pair of glasses sit on top of a Social Security card and a $100 bill.

when economic inflation Money surges and loses its purchasing power, and suddenly the hard-earned savings of retirees don’t reach the extent they expected. Inflation can also lead to wide salary increases, but retirees usually don’t benefit from wage growth because they’ve already left the workforce.

However, the Social Security Administration adjusts benefits in an effort to keep up with rising prices for goods and services. With inflation rising in recent years, these are annualized Cost of living adjustments (COLAs) I paid Social Security benefits 1.3% and 5.9% higher in 2020 and 2021, respectively. With this in mind, SmartAsset set out to uncover where seniors rely most on Social Security by analyzing income data for seniors in 100 U.S. cities.

This is the sixth SmartAsset edition of our study of the cities where retirees rely most on Social Security. You can read a file 2022 study here.

Main results

  • Social Security makes up more than 40% of the income of the average retiree. The average U.S. retiree received 41.6% of their total income ($50,780) from Social Security in 2021, up slightly from 41.50% in our 2022 study. The percentage is even higher for retirees in some cities, where Social Security can be as high as 50%. % of total retirement income.

  • The population of over 65s in Nashville, Lincoln, and Charlotte is rising rapidly. The elderly population in these cities grew by 15.12%, 14.20%, and 12.89%, respectively, between 2017 and 2021. Meanwhile, the retired population has become more dependent on Social Security than in last year’s rankings: Nashville and Lincoln both jumped three places, while Charlotte jumped. Seniors from 45 to 10.

  • Midwestern cities rely more heavily on Social Security, while California’s seniors have other sources of income. Cities in Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Michigan, and Ohio frequent the top 10 cities where seniors rely on Social Security, while California cities dominate the top 10 least dependent cities.

Where retirees rely on Social Security the most

1. Fort Wayne, IN
For the fifth year in a row, Fort Wayne took first place in our study. Retirees here get more than half (50.04%) of their total retirement income from Social Security — down from last year when it made up more than 52% of retirees’ income. This indicates that other sources of income for retirees in Fort Wayne remained better than Social Security. Meanwhile, the population for those 65 and older grew by 8.87% between 2017 and 2021.

2. Wichita, Kansas
The median annual income for retirees in Wichita is $45,220, with just under half (49.81%) coming from Social Security. Once revered as the largest aircraft manufacturing center in the world, Wichita is now home to more than 62,500 residents 65 and older who can enjoy many cultural activities at the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Wichita Art Museum, and Orpheum Theatre.

3. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville retirees can take advantage of legendary live music venues like the Grand Ole Opry and Bluebird Cafe. More than 89,000 seniors 65 and older call this city home. Social Security makes up 48.15% of total retirement income ($46,133), up from 45.80% in the 2022 study.

If you are ready to match up with local advisors who can help you achieve your financial goals, then let’s start.

4. Lincoln, Nebraska
Retirees who live in the capital of Nebraska rely on Social Security for 47.10% of their total income ($49,979), up from 45.56% a year ago. Approximately 43,000 seniors age 65 or older live in Lincoln and the population grew by 14.20% between 2017 and 2021.

5. Surprise, AZ
Located about 30 miles northwest of Phoenix, Surprise’s senior population declined 2.51% between 2017 and 2021. The city has the second highest average Social Security benefit across our study at $24,890, which is 46.78% of its total income. the retirement. Surprise is home to a number of golf courses, and retirees can also catch a glimpse of two major league baseball teams, the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals, at their spring training facilities.

Where retirees depend on Social Security the least

1. Washington, D.C
Retirees in our nation’s capital get 30.22% of their income from Social Security, less than any other city in our study. Social Security pays the average DC retiree $18,942 annually; While other retirement income streams average $43,744. More than 85,000 residents 65 and older call this city home.

2. Chula Vista, California
Social Security accounts for 31.63% of the median gross income for retirees in Chula Vista. That’s more than 3.5 points lower than in our 2022 study, when it saved retirees 34.01% of their retirement income. Located about 10 miles south of San Diego, Chula Vista saw its population of 65 and older increase by 15.74% between 2017 and 2021.

3. Riverside, California
Within Los Angeles, Riverside is home to more than 34,000 retirees 65 and older, and that population grew 7.87% between 2017 and 2021. The average retiree here lives on $56,424 annually, and Social Security makes up 33.53%. .

4. Sacramento, California
California’s capital city has seen a huge boom in recent years. The number of Sacramento residents 65 and older increased 23.44% between 2017 and 2021. The average retiree here relies on Social Security to cover 33.56% of their total retirement income ($55,815). Sacramento’s proximity to the California wine country makes it an ideal retirement destination for wine lovers.

5. Glendale, California
Located just north of Los Angeles, Glendale saw its population of 65 and older shrink by 1.23% between 2017 and 2021. The average Glendale retiree collects $20,411 in Social Security, which is 33.88% of the total Their retirement income ($60,248). Retirees here can take advantage of the downtown shopping district, which includes an outdoor mall.

Data and methodology

To find where retirees rely most on Social Security, we examined Social Security income data as a percentage of total retirement income in the 100 cities with the largest populations of residents age 65 or older. Specifically, we looked at the following two metrics:

  • Median retirement income for elderly families. This is all income that comes from retirement plans, periodic income from annuities or insurance and income from IRA Plans. The data comes from the US Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey, conducted for a year.

  • Median Social Security income for families of the elderly. This includes Social Security pensions, survivors’ benefits, and permanent disability insurance payments made by the Social Security Administration. The data comes from the US Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey, conducted for a year.

Social Security Planning Tips

  • Work with a professional. A financial advisor can help you build a comprehensive retirement plan that integrates Social Security into your other sources of income. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be difficult. SmartAsset can match you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisors at no cost to determine which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find a counselor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

  • Run your numbers. Knowing how much you can expect to receive in Social Security is a vital piece of the retirement planning puzzle. SmartAsset Social Security Calculator They can help you estimate the amount of your benefit to be based on your income, your age, and when you plan to start collecting.

  • Consider delaying Social Security in a bear market. It is important to understand the risks of entering retirement during a bear market. Early withdrawals from your portfolio may lock in investment losses and reduce the life of your savings. Despite this, we recently found out Defer Social Security until full retirement age It actually yields more total retirement income at age 30 than claiming at age 62, even if it means depleting your savings sooner.

Questions about our study? Contact us on

Photo credit: © / Bill Oxford

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