Number of Seniors Living in Poverty Grows

Number of Seniors Living in Poverty Grows

According to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate among older Americans grew during 2020 to 2021. Seniors were the only age group to experience an increase in poverty. The share of older adults in the U.S. living below the poverty line rose from 8.9% in 2020 to 10.3% in 2021. In total, almost 6 million older adults lived below the federal poverty level in 2021.

As disturbed as we were to learn this, the data confirm findings of recent TSCL surveys in 2021 and 2022 which indicated there was a significant jump in the percentage of older adults who report turning to low-income assistance programs such as SNAP and Medicare Extra Help in 2021 and 2022. Inflation is pushing more older households into poverty.

TSCL shared these findings with dozens of news outlets last year, warning that we believed that the number of older adults living in poverty was rapidly rising due to inflation. The Census Bureau data simply back up what your survey responses have been showing.

Seniors have not fared as well as other groups through the pandemic. They were not eligible for much of the tax relief for families with children. About one-out-of-five participants in TSCL’s surveys last year said they depleted a retirement or savings account during the 2021 – 2022 period. Nearly one third say they have applied for SNAP (food stamps) or have visited a food pantry over the past 12 months. And 234,880 people have signed TSCL’s petition to provide a one-time $1,400 stimulus payment for Social Security recipients.

How have you been affected by rising prices? Take TSCL’s new 2023 Senior Survey at

Source: Current Population Survey, 2021 and 2022 Annual Social and Economic Supplements, U.S. Census Bureau,