Social Security provides benefits to more than 67 million people, and those monthly payments have an enormous impact on older Americans’ financial health. According to Census Bureau data:
• Social Security accounts for at least 50 percent of income for more than half of households headed by someone 65 or older.
• It provides nearly 80 percent of income for 1 in 5 such households.
• It keeps nearly 29 million people from falling below the poverty line.
An institution that looms so large in American life is bound to generate questions about what it does and how it works. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Social Security. You'll find more detailed information on these and many more issues in AARP's Social Security Resource Center.
No. As of November 2023, about three-quarters of beneficiaries were retirees. The remainder were spouses, ex-spouses and children of retirees (3.8 percent); people with disabilities and their families (12.7 percent); and survivors of deceased beneficiaries (8.7 percent).