The research shows that places where Social Security makes up the largest income piece tend to be lower-cost areas — including some in states where income (or, specifically, Social Security income) doesn’t get taxed. The cities where it’s a smaller portion of retiree income tend to have a higher cost of living and higher incomes among its residents.

For people still in their working years, the research should point to the importance of setting aside savings now to provide you with income in your later years when full-time work is behind you. In other words, Social Security will only go so far.

“Sometimes the numbers look too big and scary so you don’t want to think about it,” said AJ Smith, vice president of financial education at SmartAsset. “Instead, think about the options you have available and take advantage of what you can do now.”



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