The Regional Support Index (RSI) illustrates the level of support that Social Security provides to all residents of a given state or county. The index is composed of three variables: (1) percent of the state or county’s entire population that receives Social Security benefits; (2) percent of personal income in the state or county derived from Social Security; and (3) per capita Social Security income at the state or county level (total amount of Social Security benefits divided by total number of residents. Higher RSI values indicate more Social Security support for the population.
For more on RSI methodology, see About The Report.
The national and state maps illustrate a snapshot using 2013 figures. But examination of the tables makes it quite clear that between 2008 and 2013 Social Security increased its level of support in the vast majority of regions across the country. The precise reasons for changes in the level of support are not entirely known but it is likely based on a number of factors including, aging of the population, the economic recession during these years, and other social and demographic trends.
When examining a change in RSI between 2008 and 2013, a larger number indicates increasing Social Security support over the five-year period, whereas a smaller number indicates decreasing support; this data cannot be interpreted as a percentage change.
At the state level, only North Dakota decreased its RSI score over this time period. At the county level, only 197 out of 3,108 counties (6.3%) with reliable data for both years decreased their support over the same time period.