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A Profile of Older Americans: 2003


The median income of older persons in 2002 was $19,436 for males and $11,406 for females. Median money income of all households headed by older people fell by –1.4% from 2001 to 2002; however, this difference was not statistically significant.

Households containing families headed by persons 65+ reported a median income in 2002 of $33,802 ($35,219 for non-Hispanic Whites, $26,174 for African-Americans, $38,533 for Asians, and $25,123 for Hispanics). About one of every nine (11.6%) family households with an elderly householder had incomes less than $15,000 and 48.0% had incomes of $35,000 or more (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Percent Distribution by Income: 2002*

Figure 7: Percent Distribution by Income: 2002*

$33,802 median for 11.7 million family households 65+

$33,802 median for 11.7 million family households 65+

$14,251 median for 33.3 million persons 65+ reporting income

For all older persons reporting income in 2002 (33.3 million), 31.5% reported less than $10,000. Only 24.7% reported $25,000 or more. The median income reported was $14,251.

The major sources of income as reported by the Social Security Administration for older persons in 2001 were Social Security (reported by 91% of older persons), income from assets (reported by 58%), public and private pensions (reported by 40%), earnings (reported by 22%), public assistance (reported by 5%) and veterans’ benefits (reported by 4%). In 2000, Social Security benefits accounted for 38% of the aggregate income of the older population. The bulk of the remainder consisted of earnings (23%), assets (18%), and pensions (17%).

(Based on data from Current Population Reports, "Money Income in the United States: 2002," P60221, issued September, 2002, by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, related Census detailed tables on the Census web site, and from Income of the Aged Chartbook, 2001 and Fast Facts and Figures About Social Security, 2002, Social Security Administration)

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