Struggling Seniors: The Nation’s Hidden Poor

More Seniors are Getting By With Less, With Almost a Third of Seniors Living in Poverty

September 9, 2016

Every day, seniors around the United States face tough choices on what to prioritize – with food, home and healthcare among many needs that must be addressed, often on a fixed income.

The Federal Poverty Level has traditionally estimated the number of Americans in poverty every year, with almost four million seniors  – about 8 percent of those aged 65 and up in the nation – living below this standard.

In 2015, the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) was set as seniors with an income below $11,367 – less than $1,000 a month for a single senior – and $14,326 for a couple, which for many barely covers housing or rent, much less food and medicine.


But that barely scratches the surface of the true poverty that millions of our nation’s seniors face.

A closer look at seniors in our country shows that 13 million people – almost a third of seniors in the United States – are struggling to get by – living well below what anyone would define as comfortable, which is frequently calculated by doubling the Federal Poverty Level, and tracked by UCLA as the Elder Index in California.

With almost a third of the nation’s seniors effectively the hidden poor, this means seniors you know – no matter where you live – have to make decisions every day that none of us should have to.

The interactive data visualization below shows state-by-state just how many seniors are struggling to get by across the nation.


This data visualization helps showcase true poverty of seniors across the United States by doubling the Federal Poverty Line to come up with a more relevant representation of the state of our nation’s seniors.