2020 study: Chatham County among NC counties where Social Security goes furthest

Social Security is a meaningful source of income for retirees throughout the U.S. However, the resilience of this benefit varies by location, depending on things like living expenses and Social Security income in each place. In its sixth annual study, SmartAsset analyzed these factors to find the places where Social Security goes furthest.

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The study measures Social Security income, cost of living data and taxes in counties across the U.S. to determine where people are getting the most mileage out of Social Security. For a look at how top counties in North Carolina compared, check out the table below:


To find the places where Social Security goes furthest, SmartAsset first looked at the average Social Security income for each county. They then calculated the taxes a typical retiree would pay on that income based on state-specific Social Security tax rules. They subtracted the taxes from that average Social Security income to determine the net income from Social Security.

Next, they calculated how far that net income would go in every county to cover the basic necessities. They subtracted the county-level cost of typical living expenses from each county’s net Social Security income.

Finally, SmartAsset indexed the results to 100, with 100 showing where Social Security would go furthest in covering the cost of living. Higher scores reflect the places where Social Security income best covers living expenses.

Sources: MIT Living Wage Calculator, U.S. Census Bureau 2018 American Community Survey, Kiplinger, state government websites.

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