While Social Security provides a foundation of economic security for people at all income levels, new research from the Social Security Administration (SSA) illustrates its importance for those in the middle. Among beneficiaries over age 65:
- Social Security is the main source of retirement income — providing more than half of total income — for 69 percent of middle-class beneficiaries (defined here as those in the middle 60 percent of the income scale).
- Almost half (48 percent) of middle-class married couples rely on Social Security benefits as their main source of income. For more than 1 in 10 middle-class couples, Social Security benefits are at least 90 percent of their total income.
- Social Security is particularly important to unmarried middle-class beneficiaries — those who are widowed, divorced, or never married. Some 83 percent of unmarried middle-class beneficiaries rely on Social Security as their main source of income. For almost half of unmarried middle-class beneficiaries, Social Security benefits are at least 90 percent of their total income.