Report Offers More Incentive to Prepare for Long Retirement

November 17, 2011 ( - The nation's 90-and-older population nearly tripled over the past three decades, reaching 1.9 million in 2010, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau and supported by the National Institute on Aging.

Over the next four decades, this population is projected to more than quadruple. An average person who has lived to 90 years of age has a life expectancy today of 4.6 more years (versus 3.2 years in 1929-1931), while those who pass the century mark are projected to live another 2.3 years. 

The report, 90+ in the United States: 2006-2008, which presents an overview of this age group and a comparative analysis of selected demographic and socio-economic differences between people 90 and older and their younger counterparts within the older population, finds the annual median personal income for people ages 90 and over during 2006–2008 was $14,760 (in 2008 inflation-adjusted dollars). Men had significantly higher income than women, $20,133 versus $13,580.   

In 2006–2008, 92.3% of the 90-and-older population received income from the Social Security Administration—86.2% received Social Security income only, 3% collected Supplemental Security Income (SSI) only and a similar 3.1% received both Social Security and SSI.  

Social Security income repre­sented almost half (47.9%) of personal income for people ages 90 and over. Retirement pension income was the second largest single source at 18.3%. A combined category “other income” accounted for about 30% of income for the 90-and-older population. Earnings (2.2%) and SSI (1.9%) comprised the remaining portions of the personal income sources.

Almost everyone (99.5%) in the population aged 90 and over was covered by health insurance—98.8% had Medicare coverage and 28% also received Medicaid benefits in 2008. In addition to Medicare and/or Medicaid coverage, about 40% of the 90-and-older population also purchased private health insurance coverage from an insurance company. Another one-quarter of them were covered by a previous employer- or union-sponsored health insurance benefit.  

The report also indicates: 

  • An older person's likelihood of living in a nursing home increases sharply with age. About 1% of what are called the young elderly (aged 65-69) live in a nursing home. The proportion rises to 3% for ages 75-79, 11.2% for ages 85-89, 19.8% at ages 90-94, 31% at ages 95-99 and up to 38.2% among centenarians. 
  • Women ages 90 years and older outnumber men nearly three- to-one; 74.1% of the total population ages 90 and older in 2006-2008 were women. 
  • Whites represent 88% of the total 90-and-older population. Blacks make up 7.6%, Hispanics 4% and Asians 2.2%. 

The report is available at