15 States Where Retirees Are Struggling to Survive

senior man with daughter

9% of seniors in the U.S. are living in poverty. | Highwaystarz-Photography/iStock/Getty Images

Once you finally hang up your work hat, you should be able to relax and enjoy your golden years. However, for some people, retirement is anything but golden. Instead, their remaining years are spent trying to survive.

Across the United States, roughly 9% of the senior population is living in poverty, according to America’s Health Rankings. To discover the states where the most retirees are living in poverty, we analyzed data from America’s Health Rankings. We also incorporated research from WalletHub’s rankings of states with the best and worst economies, as well as population data from Data USA. Here are the 15 states where retirees are struggling to survive.

15. North Carolina

  • Senior poverty rate: 9.2%
  • State poverty rate: 16.4%

Many seniors in North Carolina went hungry in the past year. Since 2013, food insecurity increased from 15.7% to 18% of adults age 60 and over. Roughly 18% of seniors in North Carolina had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, it received a WalletHub ranking of 15 out of 51 (51 is the worst state economy).

Next: Many retirees in this state lack access to nutritious meals. 

14. South Carolina

Hilton Head Island

Nearly 20% of seniors cut back on eating because they couldn’t afford it. | designheid/iStock/Getty Images

  • Senior poverty rate: 9.3%
  • State poverty rate: 16.6%

Hunger is becoming more of a problem among seniors in South Carolina. In the past two years, access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program decreased from 72.5% to 58% of adults age 60 and older who are living in poverty. Roughly 19.3% of seniors in South Carolina had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, it received a WalletHub ranking of 24 out of 51.

Next: Retirees in this state are receiving less support.

13. Georgia

Columbus, Georgia, USA

Support decreased by 13%. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Senior poverty rate: 9.7%
  • State poverty rate: 17%

In the past year, community support decreased from $293 to $254 per adult age 60 and over who is living in poverty. Roughly 17.8% of seniors in Georgia had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, it received a WalletHub ranking of 18 out of 51.

Next: Retirees in this state aren’t getting enough coverage for some health care costs.

12. Tennessee

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Vaccination coverage dropped. | Sean Pavone Photo/iStock/Getty Images

  • Senior poverty rate: 9.8%
  • State poverty rate: 16.7%

Seniors in Tennessee have less coverage for some health care services. For example, in the past two years, flu vaccination coverage decreased from 73.4% to 59.6% of adults age 65 and older. Roughly 15.8% of seniors in Tennessee had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, it received a WalletHub ranking of 35 out of 51.

Next: Retirees in this state need more geriatricians.

11. California

California sunset

High cost of living is strangling seniors. | LUNAMARINA/iStock/Getty Images

  • Senior poverty rate: 9.9%
  • State poverty rate: 15.3%

Roughly 15.9% of seniors in California had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. In addition to a scarcity of food, California seniors also face lacking health care services. In the past three years, there has been an increase in geriatrician shortfall from 58.2% to 67.8% of geriatricians needed. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, it received a WalletHub ranking of 2 out of 51.

Next: This state is lacking when it comes to overall economic health.

10. Alabama

Welcome to Alabama road sign on US-84 near Gordon

Poverty has gone down slightly, but it’s still above average. | miroslav_1/iStock/Getty Images

  • Senior poverty rate: 9.9%
  • State poverty rate: 18.5%

Poverty has decreased in Alabama. Since 2013, poverty decreased from 10.8% to 9.9% of adults aged 65 and older. However, hunger still remains in issue among the state’s older population. Roughly 17.2% of seniors in Alabama had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, it received a WalletHub ranking of 41 out of 51.

Next: Community support for seniors is lacking in this state. 

 9. Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island

Community support decreased by 20%. | iStock/Getty Images

  • Senior poverty rate: 10.3%
  • State poverty rate: 13.9%

Roughly 14.5% of seniors on Rhode Island had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. In the past year, community support decreased from $300 to $239 per adult age 60 and older who is living in poverty. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, Rhode Island received a WalletHub ranking of 36 out of 51.

Next: Lack of resources are taking a toll on retirees in this state.

8. Florida

Boat dock in Fort Myers

The state known for its senior population is struggling. | Ludibarrs/iStock/Getty Images

  • Senior poverty rate: 10.3%
  • State poverty rate: 15.7%

Roughly 15.1% of seniors in Florida had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. Furthermore, older Floridians struggle with mental health. In the past year, frequent mental distress increased from 7.3% to 8.4% of adults age 65 and older. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, Florida received a WalletHub ranking of 22 out of 51.

Next: Many retirees in this state go hungry.

7. Texas

Frisco, Texas

On a positive note, health screenings have increased. | Jaynir/iStock/Getty Images

  •  Senior poverty rate: 10.3%
  • State poverty rate: 15.9%

Roughly 19% of seniors in Texas had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. On the bright side, more older Texans are getting screened for diseases. In the past year, health screenings rose from 53.4% to 68.4% of seniors receiving recommended screenings. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, Texas received a WalletHub ranking of 20 out of 51.

 Next: This state’s economic health isn’t the best.

6. Arkansas

Arkansas

Arkansas ranks low in health and economy. | iStock/Getty Images

  • Senior poverty rate: 10.3%
  • State poverty rate: 19.1%

Roughly 24.9% of seniors in Arkansas had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. On the bright side, more older Americans in this state are getting screened for diseases. In the past two years, health screenings rose from 51.1% to 64.5% of seniors receiving recommended screenings. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, Arkansas received a WalletHub ranking of 48 out of 51.

Next: This state could use some health care improvements.

5. New Mexico

Taos, New Mexico

Geriatricians are in short supply. | RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Senior poverty rate: 11.1%
  • State poverty rate: 20.4%

Roughly 10.8% of seniors in New Mexico had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. Specialized health care also remains an issue among older Americans in New Mexico. Since 2013, geriatrician shortfall rose from 57.1% to 68% of geriatricians needed. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, New Mexico received a WalletHub ranking of 40 out of 51.

Next: This state’s economic health could use a booster shot.

4. Kentucky

cityscape

Hunger is a problem for seniors. | iStock/Getty Images

  • Senior poverty rate: 11.2%
  • State poverty rate: 18.5%

Hunger remains an ongoing issue among older people in Kentucky. In the past two years, food insecurity increased from 15.1% to 17.5% of adults age 60 and older. Roughly 17.5% of seniors in Kentucky had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, Kentucky received a WalletHub ranking of 44 out of 51.

Next: This state might have a lot of millionaires, but it’s a different story for retirees. 

3. New York

Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Seniors near New York City are living in one of the most expensive areas in the country. | Harry Green/iStock/Getty Images

  • Senior poverty rate: 11.2%
  • State poverty rate: 15.4%

Hunger is an ongoing problem among older New Yorkers. Since 2013, food insecurity increased from 13.8% to 19.3% of adults aged 60 and older. Roughly 19.3% of seniors in New York had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. When it comes to the health of the state’s economy, New York received a WalletHub ranking of 19 out of 51.

Next: This state has one of the worst state economies. 

2. Mississippi

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Food insecurity increased by 19%. | Frank Kovalchek/Wikimedia Commons

  • Senior poverty rate: 12.5%
  • State poverty rate: 22%

In the past three years, food insecurity increased from 20.5% to 24.3% of adults age 60 and older. Roughly 24.3% of seniors in Mississippi had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. Furthermore, Mississippi has one of the worst state economies, receiving a WalletHub ranking of 49 out of 51.

Next: This state takes the No. 1 spot for having the most retirees struggling to survive. 

1. Louisiana

Baton Rouge and the Mississipi River

Louisiana has the second worst state economy. | BERKO85/iStock/Getty Images

  • Senior poverty rate: 12.8%
  • State poverty rate: 19.6%

Roughly 23.7% of seniors in Louisiana had to reduce food intake or skip meals due to lack of food resources. In addition, seniors in Louisiana have less coverage for some health care services. Since 2013, flu vaccination coverage decreased from 70.2% to 59.1% of adults age 65 and over. Louisiana has the second worst state economy, receiving a WalletHub ranking of 50 out of 51.

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