The 10 Cities Where Seniors Rely on Social Security the Most

retirement income
Photo by Matej Kastelic /

Social Security was never intended to fund a comfortable retirement all by itself, but it may be all some people have in their later years.

A recent analysis by SmartAsset identified 25 cities where retirees rely the most on their Social Security benefits.

The results show that in many major American cities, Social Security funds nearly half of a senior household’s retirement expenses — or more.

The analysis is based on U.S. Census Bureau data on the average retirement income and average Social Security income for senior households, defined as households in which the head of household is 65 or older.

SmartAsset examined this data for the 100 U.S. cities with the largest 65-and-older populations. Across those 100 cities, Social Security benefits make up 42 percent of retirement income, on average.

The 10 cities where Social Security benefits comprise the largest percentage of retirement income are:

  1. Fort Wayne, Indiana — Social Security makes up 53.77 percent of income for the average retiree
  2. Hialeah, Florida — 53.57 percent
  3. Wichita, Kansas — 50.46 percent
  4. Sun City, Arizona — 50.23 percent
  5. Indianapolis — 49.69 percent
  6. Lincoln, Nebraska — 49.25 percent
  7. Toledo, Ohio — 48.61 percent
  8. Tulsa, Oklahoma — 48.21 percent
  9. Milwaukee — 48.18 percent
  10. Port St. Lucie, Florida — 48.10 percent

While Florida was recently named the best state for retirees in 2019 by WalletHub, it’s home to three of the 25 cities on SmartAsset’s full list. Three North Carolina cities also made the list, although they all ranked in the lower half.

Arizona has the most cities on the list, though — with Mesa (No. 12), Phoenix (No. 16) and Surprise (No. 20) joining Sun City.

Hialeah, Florida, while a fraction shy of the top slot, stands out in another way: It has the lowest average combined retirement income on the entire list — $25,867. That’s significantly below the next-lowest average retirement income — Buffalo, New York’s $36,808.

Keep in mind these are just averages. More than 1 in 5 married couples are almost completely reliant on Social Security to survive in retirement.

“The Social Security Administration estimates that 21 percent of married couples receiving Social Security benefits rely on it for more than 90 percent of their income,” SmartAsset reports.

Making your Social Security last

Living strictly on Social Security can be difficult, which is why experts emphasize the importance of building a nest egg in employer-sponsored 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and other retirement savings vehicles from a young age.

That said, there are certainly ways to make your Social Security dollars stretch further. Check out:

And if you really want to take your Social Security benefits further — literally — you might consider moving abroad for retirement. We wrote last year about “10 Countries Where You Can Really Stretch a Social Security Check.”

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