In One Year, Close to 1 Million More U.S. Seniors Living in Poverty

Over the course of just one year, from 2020 to 2021, nearly 1 million more seniors in the United States found themselves living below the poverty line, according to data in a newly released government report.

Posted on September 24, 2022

The U.S. Census Bureau’s annual report found that, as of 2021, more than 10 percent of Americans aged 65 and older — or about 6 million people — were experiencing poverty, as calculated by the Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). This represents a statistically significant increase compared with 2020.

Notably, older adults were the only age group to have endured such an increase. Seniors of color were significantly more likely still to be living in poverty than their white counterparts. 

Each year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issues federal poverty level income numbers, which are used to calculate a person’s eligibility for certain public benefits. In 2021, the federal poverty level was $12,880 per year for an individual.

Read the Census Bureau’s news release summarizing the report and view a chart depicting the change in percentage of people in poverty by age group and other categories. To download the 2021 poverty report in full, visit the Census Bureau’s website.

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