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The US cities with the lowest Social Security benefits

Among 345 U.S. cities ranked by SmartAsset, these are the seven cities with the lowest mean Social Security benefit:

  • Brownsville, Texas ($14,556)
  • Hialeah, Florida ($14,598)
  • Hartford, Connecticut ($15,220)
  • Pomona, California ($15,509)
  • El Monte, California ($15,586)
  • Paterson, New Jersey ($15,600)
  • Miami, Florida ($15,749)

Many of these cities have low median incomes, few residents with college degrees, and unemployment rates higher than the average. With Social Security benefits determined based on earnings throughout your career, the lower retirement checks there come as no surprise.

Regardless, with the 2024 Federal Poverty guidelines classifying a household of one as being in poverty with an income below $15,060, it's clear seniors relying on the typical Social Security benefit in these areas are going to struggle to cover their basic needs without outside funds.

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How not to rely on Social Security alone

Whether your city is on this list or you live in an area with higher average benefits, you don't want to over-rely on Social Security as a retiree. With benefits designed to replace only 40% of pre-retirement income, doing so is a recipe for financial disaster.

The good news is, you don't have to try to make it on Social Security alone if you're serious about growing your nest egg so it provides plenty of supplementary income. There are a few surefire steps to do that:

Delay retirement to have more time to save

Working longer provides the opportunity to earn income for more years that can be invested for your future. Working later in life is especially valuable because you can make larger tax-deductible contributions to retirement plans thanks to catch-up contributions you're eligible for starting at age 50.

You may also be able to delay a Social Security claim, which increases those benefits. Plus, you won't have to rely on your savings for as many years.

Take full advantage of help on offer

If your company provides an employer matching contribution to your retirement plan, contribute enough to claim it. There's also tax breaks for retirement investing, including the Saver's Credit, which offers up to a $1,000 tax credit for retirement account contributions if your income is below $38,250 as a single filer or $76,500 as a married joint filer in 2024.

Help from your employer and the government makes it cheaper to invest for retirement.

Maintain the right investment mix

You don't want to be too conservative in your investments and limit your potential returns. A $6,000 annual investment at 10% over 30 years would leave you with a $986,981.59 nest egg, while the same investment at 7% would turn into just $566,772.33.

Subtracting your age from 110 gives you an idea of the percentage of your portfolio that should be in the market to get the right financial mix.

Taking these steps ensures you don't have to worry as much about how big your Social Security benefit is as you'll have plenty of money to supplement your retirement checks and have a financially secure future.

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Christy Bieber Freelance Writer

Christy Bieber a freelance contributor to Moneywise, who has been writing professionally since 2008. She writes about everything related to money management and has been published by NY Post, Fox Business, USA Today, Forbes Advisor, Credible, Credit Karma, and more. She has a JD from UCLA School of Law and a BA in English Media and Communications from the University of Rochester.

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