Social Security and Medicare have insured the elderly are largely shielded from poverty.  Certain racial and socioeconomic demographics have not done as well.

Social Security and Medicare have insured the elderly are shielded from poverty.

The elderly are the only segment of the population whose poverty proportion has been dramatically reduced over the last sixty years.  For those over 65, their poverty rate has fallen from 36.9 percent to just 9.1 percent.  This is less than a fourth of 1959 levels.  Social Security is included in poverty measure for these individuals, buffering them above the poverty line.  It is the main reason why their poverty rate has fallen; if it were not the elderly poverty rate would be 54.7 percent.  By itself, Social Security raises 8.56 percent of all American’s out of poverty*.  Since social security is included as income it is measured in the current poverty index and officials are able to properly evaluate its benefit to the elderly.  This solution has not been applied to the other impoverished demographics, leaving them with higher poverty rates.

*Council of Economic Advisers. The War on Poverty 50 Year Later: A Progress Report. Washington, DC: United States Government, 2014. 26,27. Print.