Whether you realize it or not, Social Security is probably this country's most important social program. According to an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the mere fact that retired workers have a guaranteed income stream from Social Security (should they earn enough lifetime work credits) pushes the federal poverty level for the elderly down to 8.8%. Without Social Security income, an estimated 40.5% of retired workers would be living below the poverty line.
In addition, data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) finds that more than three out of five retired workers leans on Social Security for at least half of their monthly income. For added context, the SSA suggests that the average retired worker should expect Social Security to replace about 40% of their wages. In other words, we're really relying on Social Security income to prop us up during retirement.
But Social Security income probably isn't making retirees feel rich. As of September, according to the SSA, the average retired worker was bringing home $1,372.39 a month, or about $16,468.68 a year. That may not sound like much, but in the right state a retired worker can make it, along with his or her nest egg, stretch pretty far.