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Poverty - Ages 65+
Poverty - Ages 65+ in California

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Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who live below the poverty level

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Poverty - Ages 65+ by State

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who live below the poverty level

Poverty - Ages 65+ Trends

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who live below the poverty level

Trend: Poverty - Ages 65+ in California, United States, 2023 Senior Report

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who live below the poverty level

United States

 U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

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About Poverty - Ages 65+

US Value: 10.3%

Top State(s): Wyoming: 6.7%

Bottom State(s): Louisiana: 14.1%

Definition: Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who live below the poverty level

Data Source and Years: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2021

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

Poverty is associated with poor health outcomes. It influences environmental exposures and health-related behaviors and increases the risk of chronic disease and mortality. Among older adults, poverty is linked to an increased risk of disability, homelessness and physical and cognitive decline

Many older adults subsist on limited incomes and modest savings that restrict their ability to afford basic medical care. Further, 63% of adults ages 65 and older have at least two chronic conditions, leading to increased out-of-pocket expenses. 

The Supplemental Poverty Estimate, introduced in 2011, complements the official poverty measure with metrics that adjust for government programs related to food, housing and utilities as well as other expenses such as taxes and out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Poverty is higher among:

  • Adults ages 80 and older compared with younger older adults. 
  • Older women compared with older men.
  • Black and Hispanic older adults compared with white older adults.
  • Older adults who are unmarried compared to those who are married and living together.

Many federal, state and local government programs, as well as community interventions, exist to support and help reduce the number of older adults living in poverty. Some of them include:

  • Social Security: Most adults ages 65 and older receive Social Security benefits. The average benefit for a retired worker is $1,669 per month.
  • Supplemental Security Income: This program supplements Social Security benefits with additional income for older adults who need it. 
  • Medicare: This government health insurance program is offered to all adults ages 65 and older.
  • Medicaid: Older adults enrolled in Medicare with limited income and resources may qualify for additional assistance with paying premiums and out-of-pocket expenses through Medicaid.
  • Housing assistance: The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development provides various affordable housing resources for older adults.
  • Food and nutrition support: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help older adults afford food. The Older Americans Act funds multiple programs that provide congregate or home-delivered meals to low-income older adults.

Healthy People 2030 has a goal to reduce the proportion of all people living in poverty.

Adler, Nancy E., Thomas Boyce, Margaret A. Chesney, Sheldon Cohen, Susan Folkman, Robert L. Kahn, and S. Leonard Syme. 1994. “Socioeconomic Status and Health: The Challenge of the Gradient.” American Psychologist 49 (1): 15–24.

Baker, Kermit, Pamela Baldwin, Kerry Donahue, Angela Flynn, Christopher Herbert, Elizabeth La Jeunesse, Mary Lancaster, et al. 2014. “Housing America’s Older Adults—Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population.” Cambridge, MA: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Boersma, Peter, Lindsey I. Black, and Brian W. Ward. 2020. “Prevalence of Multiple Chronic Conditions Among US Adults, 2018.” Preventing Chronic Disease 17 (September): 200130.

Braveman, Paula A., Catherine Cubbin, Susan Egerter, David R. Williams, and Elsie Pamuk. 2010. “Socioeconomic Disparities in Health in the United States: What the Patterns Tell Us.” American Journal of Public Health 100 (S1): S186–96.

Galea, Sandro, Melissa Tracy, Katherine J. Hoggatt, Charles DiMaggio, and Adam Karpati. 2011. “Estimated Deaths Attributable to Social Factors in the United States.” American Journal of Public Health 101 (8): 1456–65.

Jacobson, Gretchen, Shannon Griffin, Tricia Neuman, and Karen Smith. 2017. “Income and Assets of Medicare Beneficiaries, 2016-2035.” Issue Brief. KFF.

Li, Zhe, and Joseph Dalaker. 2022. “Poverty Among the Population Aged 65 and Older.” CRS Report R45791. Congressional Research Service.

Lubetkin, Erica I., and Haomiao Jia. 2017. “Burden of Disease Associated with Lower Levels of Income among US Adults Aged 65 and Older.” BMJ Open 7 (1): e013720.

Minkler, Meredith, Esme Fuller-Thomson, and Jack M. Guralnik. 2006. “Gradient of Disability across the Socioeconomic Spectrum in the United States.” New England Journal of Medicine 355 (7): 695–703.

Steptoe, Andrew, and Paola Zaninotto. 2020. “Lower Socioeconomic Status and the Acceleration of Aging: An Outcome-Wide Analysis.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117 (26): 14911–17.

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