There are an estimated 1.3 million people over age 60 in Colorado, a number that is growing significantly with each passing year. As of 2024, approximately 10 to 12% of these seniors — or about 130,000 — face substantial financial challenges. Support programs, with a mix of government, community, and private sponsorship, come to the aid of a portion of these people, although it is believed there are many others who qualify for various kinds of help but do not receive it or are not even aware of how to secure it.

There is also a well-off tier of Colorado seniors who, barring some catastrophically expensive event in their lives, do not confront serious financial challenges. A 2021 survey undertaken by AARP, an AgeWise Colorado Provider, found that 93% of older Coloradans with incomes of $100,000+ have what they feel is adequate savings that would keep them dipping into retirement funds to cover an emergency expense of $2,000. By contrast, close to half (45%) of seniors with incomes under $50,000 are not very confident that they could cover such an unexpected expensewithout raiding their retirement funds.

There is also a wide range of older Coloradans — hundreds of thousands — in between the high and low end of the financial spectrum. Many of these do not qualify for certain support systems due to their comparatively good financial situation. And yet in many cases they still may not feel truly confident about their finances. So the full picture of senior Coloradans’ finances is quite varied.

Findings by Colorado’s Bell Policy Center on Financial Position of Older Coloradans

The Bell Policy Center based in Denver, which states that its mission is to ensure economic mobility for every Coloradan, conducts extensive research and advocacy in order to help “create a practical policy agenda that raises the economic floor [and] builds a diverse and thriving middle class.” In 2021 the Center reported extensive results of its research, which included the following points:

  • Among Coloradans age 65+ there are notable differences across different demographic groups in residential status. Close to half (47%) of these Coloradans own a home with no mortgage; about 40% own homes but still have a mortgage; the rest, around 14%, are renters. But whereas 49% of White seniors as a group own a home without a mortgage, only 22% of Black seniors are so situated.
  • Family incomes of Coloradans age 65+ generally average in the $50,000 to $60,000 range, with monthly expenses in the $2,000 to $2,500 range. Not surprisingly, expenses are notably less for homeowners without a mortgage. Homeowners with a mortgage have slightly higher monthly expenses than renters.
  • Of Coloradans age 65+, 82% receive Social Security. This percentage is fairly consistent across all demographic groups. But the dollar amount of benefits can vary. The median Social Security income for all Coloradans age 65+ is $14,000. As a group, however, men outpace women here, $17,000 to $14,000, and Whites overall outpace Blacks by about $1,500 ($14,400 to $12,900).
  • For Coloradans still working past age 65 (about a 20% segment), the median annual wage is $25,000. Men as a group outpace women in wage income by 50% ($30,400 to $20,000). Blacks are on par with women in general at $20,000. As would be expected, wages sharply vary by occupation. Bell says the “most common” occupations of older Coloradans and the mean yearly income for them look like this (figures from 2019):
    • Retail sales person: $24,000
    • Truck Driver: $33,000
    • Elementary/Middle School Teacher: $36,000
    • Manager: $77,000
    • Registered Nurse: $52,000
    • Chief Executive: $140,000
    • Secretary/Admin Assistant: $28,000
    • Accountant/Auditor: $64,000
    • Farmer/Rancher: $22,000
    • Bookkeeping/Accounting Clerk: $29,000
  • When it comes to retirement/pension income apart from Social Security, 40% of Coloradans age 65+ are receiving it (men more than women, 45% to 36%), with a median amount of $16,900 per year (men at $21,000 vs. women at $13,200).

A “Substantial Number” of Older Coloradans Are Economically Insecure

Taking all the figures into account, the Bell Policy Center concludes that “A substantial number of older Coloradans and their families — a disproportionate number of whom live outside the Front Range and are from BIPOC (Blacks, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities — are economically insecure.” An estimated 22% of all Coloradans age 65+ are at 200% or less of the Federal Poverty Threshold. This statistic varies noticeably by geography and demography — being 21% on the Front Range but reaching 38% in the San Luis Valley. Also, among Blacks the figure is 32%, and among American Indians, it is 45%.

Another Bell conclusion: Housing is the largest expense for most older Coloradans. “For renters and homeowners with a mortgage, housing costs can account for upwards of 40 percent of total estimated expenses. As the cost of housing continues to rise, this poses a growing challenge for many older Coloradans.” In addition, housing type matters for financial security. “Total estimated household expenses are largely connected to whether an older Coloradan rents, owns their home outright, or has a mortgage,” Bell states. “Median estimated household costs for older Coloradans who rent or have a mortgage are between 65 percent and 95 percent higher than for those who own their home outright. Importantly, race and ethnicity are intricately connected to older Coloradans’ homeownership status.”

What AARP Found about Older Coloradans’ Finances

When AARP conducted its survey, it looked at factors that included how comfortable older Coloradans are with their financial decisions, how they perceive their debt and savings, their access to workplace retirement savings plans, and the degree to which they feel prepared for the unexpected. Among AARP’s findings were the following:

  • The majority (86%) feel good about the financial decisions they have made but are less comfortable with their decisions about saving and investing. Only two-thirds said their decisions made in saving for retirement have been good or mostly good.
  • When surveyed (in 2021), about 1 in 10 seniors said their overall financial situation had worsened during the preceding year. (Recall this would have been when the pandemic was a prominent factor.) Those with lower incomes and those ages 50–59 were especially likely to say that their overall situation deteriorated.
  • Overall, roughly 6 in 10 Coloradans ages 50-plus said they believe they were extremely or very likely to be able to cover their needs in retirement. However, for those with incomes under $50,000, just 44% felt that level of confidence. AARP observed: “Although most (86%) Coloradans ages 50+ have saved for retirement, many wish they had started saving earlier than they actually did.” Not surprisingly, those who began saving earlier generally felt better about their retirement finances. But at the same time, the survey found that only about 17% of Coloradans past age 70 had that early start on saving (beginning before age 25), compared to 28% of those age 50-59 who began saving early. Seniors with higher current incomes were also more likely to have started retirement saving earlier.
  • AARP reported that workplace retirement savings plans were the predominant vehicle that Coloradans ages 50+ were using to save for retirement, with three-fourths of those surveyed having contributed to such plans. Just over half (55%) had also contributed to a retirement savings account outside of work. Generally, the lower one’s income was, the less likelihood that the employer offered a way to save for retirement.
  • Another statistic affecting senior Coloradans’ finances was the fact that more than two in five (43%) retired earlier than planned, with health problems/disability being a key reason for half of these unplanned retirements.

Financial Help Is Available for Coloradans

Needless to say, the financial condition of Colorado’s seniors is variable, with individuals affected by a wide array of factors. The good news is that for Coloradans who find their situation challenging, help is available in many forms and from myriad sources. Support services provided under auspices of the state can be found at the following two sites: and

And check out a number of other programs to help Colorado seniors on our AgeWise Colorado website by visiting