Are You Living in the Wrong City for Retirement? Cities That Can’t Do Without Social Security!

Inflation is a significant concern for retirees because it erodes the purchasing power of their hard-earned savings. While inflation often leads to salary increases for those in the workforce, retirees miss out on this benefit. However, there is a silver lining for retirees: Social Security benefits are adjusted to keep up with the rising cost of living. In recent years, these cost of living adjustments (COLAs) have provided relief, pushing Social Security benefits higher. This article explores where retirees in the United States rely the most on Social Security and which cities have the highest and lowest dependency.

Social Security’s Role in Retirement:

Social Security plays a crucial role in the financial well-being of retirees. On average, retirees in the U.S. received 41.6% of their total income from Social Security in 2021, amounting to $50,780 per year. This percentage has slightly increased from 2024, highlighting the growing importance of Social Security in retirement income. In some cities, Social Security contributes even more substantially, making up to 50% of overall retirement income.

Cities with Growing Senior Populations:

Several U.S. cities have witnessed a notable increase in senior populations between 2017 and 2021. Nashville, Lincoln, and Charlotte stand out, with geriatric populations growing by 15.12%, 14.20%, and 12.89%, respectively. These cities have also seen retirees relying more on Social Security compared to previous years. Nashville and Lincoln have jumped three spots each in the rankings, while Charlotte soared from 45th to 10th place.

Geographically, the Midwest appears to have a higher reliance on Social Security, with Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Michigan, and Ohio frequently making the list of top 10 cities where seniors rely most on Social Security. On the other hand, California cities dominate the list of the ten least dependent on Social Security, suggesting that retirees in the Golden State have more diverse sources of income.

Cities Where Retirees Rely Most on Social Security:

Fort Wayne, IN:

For five consecutive years, Fort Wayne has claimed the top spot. Here, retirees receive over half (50.04%) of their retirement income from Social Security, though this percentage has slightly decreased from the previous year. Fort Wayne’s senior population has grown by 8.87% between 2017 and 2021.

Wichita, KS:

Retirees in Wichita have an average annual income of $45,220, with nearly half (49.81%) coming from Social Security. Wichita, once known for aircraft manufacturing, now offers a vibrant cultural scene, including the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and the Wichita Art Museum.

Nashville, TN:

Nashville offers legendary live music venues like the Grand Ole Opry and Bluebird Cafe. With over 89,000 seniors aged 65 and older, Social Security accounts for 48.15% of their total retirement income, an increase from the previous year.

Lincoln, NE:

Retirees in Nebraska’s capital rely on Social Security for 47.10% of their total income, amounting to $49,979 annually. Lincoln’s senior population grew by 14.20% between 2017 and 2021.

Surprise, AZ:

Located near Phoenix, Surprise has seen a 2.51% decline in its senior population between 2017 and 2021. Despite this, it boasts the second-highest average Social Security benefit at $24,890, constituting 46.78% of total retirement income.

Cities Where Retirees Rely Least on Social Security:

Washington D.C.:

Retirees in the nation’s capital receive the most minor income (30.22%) from Social Security compared to other cities. On average, D.C. retirees receive $18,942 annually from Social Security, with additional income streams averaging $43,744.

Chula Vista, CA:

Social Security accounts for 31.63% of the average retiree’s total income in Chula Vista, slightly lower than in the previous year. The city, located near San Diego, offers warm weather and outdoor recreation.

Riverside, CA:

Riverside’s retiree population has grown by 7.87% between 2017 and 2021. On average, retirees here live on $56,424 per year, with Social Security making up 33.53% of their income.

Sacramento, CA:

The senior population in Sacramento surged by 23.44% between 2017 and 2021. Retirees in this city rely on Social Security for 33.56% of their total retirement income, with proximity to California wine country making it an attractive retirement destination.

Glendale, CA:

Located just north of Los Angeles, Glendale saw a slight decline in its senior population between 2017 and 2021. The average retiree in Glendale collects $20,411 in Social Security, making up 33.88% of their total retirement income.

The Bottom Line

Social Security plays a crucial role in the financial lives of retirees, particularly in cities where it contributes significantly to their retirement income. While some cities heavily depend on Social Security, others have more diversified income sources. Understanding Social Security’s role in retirement planning is essential, and working with a financial advisor can help retirees optimize their financial strategy. Additionally, running the numbers and considering delaying Social Security in a down market are valuable steps in securing a comfortable retirement.