Can One Retire on Social Security Alone?

by Andy Hough on April 18, 2013

Yes, one can retire on social security alone.  According to the Social Security Administration, benefits make up 90% or more of the income of 36% of the people receiving benefits.  So it is obviously possible to retire on Social Security alone, but it is less than ideal.  If you are nearing retirement age and looking at Social Security make up almost all of your retirement income there are some things you can do to make living on just your benefit check a little easier.

The following items are based on what my own mother is doing.  Social Security won’t be 90% of her income in retirement, but it will probably be at least 75% of her income.

  • Paid Off Home/No Debt – My mom will have her house paid off and no monthly debt payments when she retires.  That will free up a lot of room in her budget for other expenses.
  • Live in a Low Cost of Living Area – The rural Midwest is a very cheap place to live.  That is how my mother was able to buy a brand new home for $70,000.  The low cost of the home made it possible for her to pay off the loan before she retires.
  • Delay Retirement – Not retiring as soon as you reach the minimum age to draw Social Security benefits allows your monthly check to build up.  My mom likes her job and is working a couple years past her retirement age to increase her check and finish paying off the house. This won’t be an option for everyone but if you are able to delay retirement you can reap the reward of larger monthly checks.
  • Good Health – This is an item you can’t completely control.  If you are healthy, do your best to remain healthy by eating right and exercising.  Health care can easily kill a monthly budget when you are only drawing Social Security so do what you can to stay healthy.

Those are the main things you can do to help increase your chances of living comfortably on Social Security benefits alone.  Of course, it is best to not have to live on just Social Security benefits.  Opening an IRA or other investment account to save for retirement with ShareBuilder.com or Betterment.com can help you have a more comfortable retirement. Right now you can take advantage of the ShareBuilder $100 Promo to help kick start your retirement investing. Just click on one of the affiliate links to open an account and get your bonus.
 

{ 3 comments }

Rokizu April 24, 2013 at 5:20 am

This look some preparation before retire. And I love the tips you gave to me, really simple and make sense.

KrisMiller@Retirement secrets June 4, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Identify and evaluate all of your retirement needs. Pension savings, investments and many other saving methods once taken up only mean one thing; that the benefits accrued over time are immense. For the retirement savings, as much as timing may be considered, time accumulated by an investment is what makes for the big difference.

Dan June 4, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Retiring on Social Security alone is tough. There are two categories of Retirees.
The Have’s and the Have NOT’s
When the HAVE’S get up in the morning during retirement and they decide they would like to have a new house, they call the realtor and they start looking at properties, because they can afford to buy a new house!

When the HAVE’S get up in the morning during retirement and decide that they would like to have a new car! They go to the dealership and start looking at options and colors because they can afford to buy a new car!

When the HAVE’S get up in the morning during retirement and they decide that they would like to go on vacation. They call the travel agent and book their vacation, because they can afford to go on vacation!

It’s quite different for the HAVE NOT’s! You see the HAVE NOT’S , HAVE NOT

The HAVE NOT’S get up in the morning during retirement. They don’t think about buying a new house.
They just hope and pray that they don’t have to put a new roof on the one they have. Cause they can’t afford it!

When the HAVE NOT’S wake up in the morning during retirement, they don’t think about buying a new car. They just hope and pray that the one they have doesn’ t break down, because they can’t afford the repair bills.

When the HAVE NOT’S wake up in the morning during retirement, they certainly don’t think about going on vacation. They know where they are going! They are going to the mail box, hoping that the social security check will be there, hoping the pension check will be there, because you know it’s been about a month and from a cash point of view, things are getting a little tight.

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