Special Report

The Best (And Worst) States for Older Americans, Ranked

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40. Missouri
> Life expectancy at age 65: 83.6 years (14th lowest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 8.2% (19th lowest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 36.4% (tied – 12th highest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $41,038 (11th lowest)
> Population 65 and older: 1.0 million (16.9% – 21st highest)

Missouri ranks among the worst states for seniors in measures of income and health. The state has a below average life expectancy at 65 and an above average share of retirement-age residents with a disability. The state also has relatively high property and violent crime rates, which reduces overall quality of life.

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39. New Mexico
> Life expectancy at age 65: 84.7 years (tied – 13th highest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 13.3% (the highest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 40.0% (4th highest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $39,989 (8th lowest)
> Population 65 and older: 368,480 (17.6% – 12th highest)

In New Mexico, only 42.2% of 65 and older households have retirement income in the form of a 401(k), pension, or similar source, lower than the nationwide share of 48.5% of retirement-age households. The smaller share of older residents with a steady income likely contributes to the state’s high poverty rate among the 65 and older population. A staggering 13.3% of retirement-age New Mexico residents live below the poverty line, the highest rate of any state and well above the 9.4% national rate.

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38. Indiana
> Life expectancy at age 65: 83.4 years (11th lowest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 7.9% (tied – 16th lowest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 34.9% (15th highest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $41,342 (13th lowest)
> Population 65 and older: 1.1 million (15.7% – 14th lowest)

For Indiana’s retirement-age population who can no longer drive, getting around is likely more difficult than it is for senior people in much of the rest of the country. Just 2.8% of commuters in the state use public transit, well below the 7.5% national average. Low usage rates can be indicative of inaccessible, unreliable, or underdeveloped public transportation infrastructure.

Life expectancy for those at age 65 in the state is also lower than average. Life expectancy for those turning 65 years old in Indiana is an additional 18.4 years to 83.4 years, lower than in most states and a year below the national average.

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37. Ohio
> Life expectancy at age 65: 83.2 years (9th lowest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 8.6% (tied – 24th lowest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 34.1% (tied – 18th highest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $41,406 (15th lowest)
> Population 65 and older: 2.0 million (17.1% – 17th highest)

Ohio compares relatively well to other states in terms of senior income. Close to 55% of state residents 65 or older have some form of retirement income in the form of a 401(k), pension, or similar source, which is well above the 48.5% share nationwide, and the state’s poverty rate among retirement-age residents is lower than the national rate.

However, Ohio’s older residents are more likely than most to be in poor health. The state has one of the highest annual mortality rates among residents 65 or older, and Ohio ranks among the 10 worst states in life expectancy at 65.

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36. South Carolina
> Life expectancy at age 65: 83.3 years (10th lowest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 9.5% (16th highest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 34.3% (tied – 16th highest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $42,161 (17th lowest)
> Population 65 and older: 899,754 (17.7% – 10th highest)

For South Carolina residents who are 65 years old, average life expectancy is an additional 18.3 years to 83.3, more than a year below the national average of 84.4. The state’s retirement-age population is also more likely to be suffering from a disability than those in most other states.

Still, likely due in part to the state’s warm climate, South Carolina is a popular place for older Americans. The retirement-age population of nearly 900,000 accounts for 17.7% of the state’s total population, a larger than average share. Additionally, 2.2% of older adults in the state moved there in the last year, a larger share than in all but a handful of other states.

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