What Age is Considered Senior in California?

In California and across the United States, the population is aging rapidly. As the baby boomer generation enters their retirement years, the number of seniors is growing every year. This leads many to wonder – what age is considered a senior citizen in the state of California? 

In California, a person is considered a senior citizen at the age of 62 or older, according to Civil Code Section 51.11. However, in the context of a senior citizen housing development, an individual can qualify as a senior citizen at the age of 55 or older.

There are a few ways we determine senior age in California. Let’s explore the legal definition, benefits eligibility, and how organizations set their own senior criteria. We’ll also look at the implications of our aging population, how seniors can find resources like housing, and important programs like Social Security and Medicare. With longer life expectancies come unique challenges and opportunities to improve quality of life as we enter our golden years.

What Age is Considered Senior in California?

Legally in California, the definition of a senior citizen is someone who is 62 years of age or older, according to California Civil Code Section 51.11. This statute deals with housing provisions for seniors in the state. Other California laws may set the senior age threshold lower or higher depending on the context. 

For example, some transit agencies in California offer senior discountsstarting at age 55. Organizations like AARP allow membership starting at age 50. So while 62 is the legal age, other public and private entities may use 50, 55 or other ages to define senior status. Those ages are somewhat arbitrary and can vary quite a bit.

What are the Benefits Available to Senior Citizens in California?

Becoming a senior citizen in California comes with certain benefits and discounts. Here are some of the common ones available:

  • Transportation discounts: Many local bus and rail systems offer reduced senior fares, sometimes 50% off. Rideshare services like Lyft also have senior discount programs. 
  • Meal discounts: Restaurants like IHOP and Denny’s offer senior discounts on meals, usually 10-15% off. Grocery stores often have “senior hours” with similar discounts.
  • Entertainment discounts: Movie theaters, museums, concerts and other entertainment often offer discounted senior tickets. National parks like Yosemite also have reduced senior entrance fees.
  • Property tax exemptions: Seniors can apply for exemptions on part of their home’s assessed property tax value. The requirements vary by county.
  • Income tax deductions: At age 65, you can claim an extra standard deduction on California income taxes. 

Beyond these discounts, there are government benefits programs that become available to seniors, which we’ll explore more below. The bottom line is that becoming a senior citizen in California can save you quite a bit of money if you take advantage of all the discounts and exemptions.

How Can I Find Senior Housing in California?

Finding senior housing is an important consideration as you or your loved ones age. California has many options to suit different needs and budgets. Some possibilities to explore are:

  • Independent living communities: These communities are for active, healthy seniors who want amenities like activities, transportation and communal dining. The residents live independently in apartments or houses on shared grounds.
  • Assisted living facilities: For seniors needing more care with daily living activities, assisted living provides help with medication, meals, bathing, dressing and more, along with living quarters.
  • Nursing homes: For seniors who require round-the-clock medical care, nursing homes have trained staff to assist with health needs. Many also offer physical and occupational therapy.
  • Continuing care retirement communities: These communities combine all levels of senior care, from independent living to skilled nursing, allowing residents to “age in place” on one campus.

Finding the right senior housing takes research. Speaking to your loved one’s doctor for care recommendations and consulting senior living reviews online can help narrow options. The costs vary greatly depending on care needs and amenities. Be sure to closely review contracts before making a decision.

Section 8 Housing in California

Another option for low-income seniors in California is Section 8 housing. This government housing assistance program helps pay rent costs for qualifying seniors.

To get Section 8 housing, seniors must meet income limits based on the median income in their county. Elderly status and having a disability can help prioritize applicants.

Seniors with Section 8 vouchers pay 30% of their adjusted gross income towards rent. The voucher subsidizes the rest of the rent payment directly to the landlord.

There are often long Section 8 housing waitlists, so applicants should sign up as soon as possible. Reach out to the local county housing authority to learn about waitlist status and Section 8 housing communities for seniors.

Section 8 provides rental assistance for over 2 million households nationwide. For California seniors struggling financially, it can be a crucial source of stable and affordable housing.

At What Age Can You Receive Full Social Security Benefits in California?

Social Security is a crucial source of income for many retired seniors. The standard age to collect your full Social Security retirement benefits is 66 years old for people born between 1943 and 1954. After 1954, the full retirement age increases gradually:

  • For people born between 1955 and 1959, full retirement age is 66 and 2 months. 
  • For those born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67.

You can begin collecting Social Security as early as age 62, but the benefit amount is permanently reduced if claiming before full retirement age. Delaying benefits past full retirement age increases the amount you can collect when you do start. Benefit amounts also depend on your lifetime earnings. Married couples have additional Social Security options to maximize benefits.

So in California, the age to receive full Social Security benefits will be 66 or 67 years old for most current seniors. Consulting the Social Security Administration’s retirement planner can help you identify your exact full retirement age and benefit estimate.

When Do You Qualify for Medicare in California?

Medicare is the federal health insurance program primarily for seniors 65 years and older. Some younger people with disabilities also qualify. The different parts of Medicare help cover hospital stays, doctor visits, prescription drugs and more. 

The initial enrollment period for Medicare is 3 months before and after your 65th birthday. It’s important to enroll on time to avoid penalties, coverage gaps and delays. You qualify to enroll in Medicare in California if:

  • You are 65 years old and a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident who has lived in the U.S. for 5 consecutive years.
  • You are under 65 but have a qualifying disability or end-stage renal disease.

Medicare has four parts – Part A, B, C and D. Parts A and B make up Original Medicare, which covers hospital and medical insurance. Parts C and D are additional coverage through private insurers that help pay for prescriptions and more. You have options when signing up for Original Medicare or supplemental coverage.

How Can We Prevent Ageism?

With our growing senior population, ageism has unfortunately become common in our society. Ageism involves stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination towards individuals or groups based on their age. Some examples of ageism can include:

  • Disregarding or patronizing older people.
  • Discriminating against older employees.
  • Mocking or shaming people for their appearance or conditions related to aging.
  • Assuming seniors are useless, feeble or disconnected.

We can take steps to prevent ageism on a societal and individual level:

  • Media representation: More positive portrayals of seniors in movies, news stories and advertisements can help reduce bias.
  • Intergenerational activities: Programs that bring together younger kids and older adults foster understanding between generations.
  • Inclusive policies: Workplaces and community groups should regularly review policies to ensure they do not limit opportunities based on age.
  • Awareness: Making people aware of their own unconscious biases through education and training can lessen discriminatory behaviors. 
  • Personal contact: Taking time to interact with seniors keeps their voices and perspectives heard.

Ageism harms our communities. With some effort, we can prevent unfair treatment and prejudice. Our senior loved ones and neighbors deserve understanding and respect.

What are the Challenges Facing the Aging Population in California?

The surge in California’s senior population presents unique opportunities and concerns. Some of the challenges facing our aging residents include:

  • Housing affordability: Rising housing costs have put financial strain on fixed-income seniors. Lack of affordable senior housing is an ongoing crisis.
  • Healthcare costs: Even with Medicare, many seniors face high out-of-pocket health and prescription costs that take up more of their limited budgets.
  • Caregiving needs: More seniors require in-home or institutional long-term care. But demand exceeds supply for caregivers, facilities and support programs.
  • Social isolation: Loss of mobility and death of spouses or friends can isolate seniors. Loneliness takes a physical and mental toll. More accessible transportation and senior social services are needed.
  • Elder abuse: Seniors can become targets for financial, physical or emotional abuse by caregivers, relatives or scammers. Reporting suspected elder abuse is critical. 
  • Chronic conditions: Aging brings higher incidence of dementia, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer and other complex conditions requiring medical care.

Supporting an aging population poses challenges. But California has opportunities to be at the forefront of senior advocacy, caregiving, age-friendly communities and more. Our growing population of seniors deserves to age with dignity, respect and purpose.


In California, the senior age is legally defined as 62, but in practicality can vary depending on the circumstances. Seniors can benefit from discounts and assistance programs, but face challenges like ageism. As our population ages, we must continue to find better ways to support and celebrate our older generations.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What age is considered senior in California?

Age: It varies by state, usually 65 80. For instance, California seniors cannot have their licenses removed solely due to their age. However, those over 70 can still be required meet some requirements.

  • Who receives the most welfare?

Every month, 24 million children receive welfare benefits. The largest percentage of welfare recipients is made up by children. A look at the demographics of welfare beneficiaries reveals that 41% of them are under 18 years old. The remaining 50% are between the ages of 18 and 64.

  • What is the cheapest state to retire on a fixed income?

South Dakota. Although the Mount Rushmore State may not be your first choice when it comes to retirement, it is first in our ranking of all 50 states. Its main advantage is affordability.

  • Where do most older adults live?

According to 2020 Census Bureau population estimates, more than 55 million Americans have reached the age of 65. California, Florida and Texas account for nearly a quarter of the older Americans.

  • Can you live off 3000 a month in retirement?

This means you, even if your net worth isn’t $1,000,000, can still enjoy a comfortable retirement – provided you don’t exceed $3,000 per month.

  • Where is the cheapest property in the US?

West Virginia is the most affordable state in which to purchase a house. The average West Virginia home costs $129,103. This is nearly $30,000 lower than Mississippi’s, and half the national average. For that amount, a homebuyer could expect 1,792 sq feet.

  • How many seniors live alone?

About 28% (or 14.7 million) of US older adults who live in a community are alone. This is 21% for older men and 34% for older women. As we age, the percentage of individuals living alone rises (e.g., 44% of women aged 75+ live alone).

  • What is considered high income for a single person?

The Pew Research Center defines a household as being of upper-class income if it earns twice the U.S. average household income. To be considered as upper-class, an individual must make $78,281 per year.

  • What states are seniors moving to?

The Key Takeaways The top three most popular states for retiring are Arizona, South Carolina and Florida. At 71%, New Jersey saw the highest number of outbound moves. One of the most sought-after areas for retired people is Mountain West.

  • How do you tell mom she needs assisted living?

Talk to your family about everything in a two-way conversation. When talking with your parents, highlight all of the benefits offered by assisted living communities. Respect your parents and do not talk down to them, no matter what their mental or physical state.

  • What is an average Social Security check?

Most people don’t do well when it comes saving for the future. A 2020 NIRS survey found that 40% Americans rely solely on Social Security to provide their retirement income. A worker’s average Social Security Benefit is just $20,000 per year, which is not enough to support most retired people.

  • Which state has no property tax in USA?

There are currently no state without a property taxes. The state’s overall income is still a large contributor from property taxes. The tax funds can be used to maintain and operate essential services such as law enforcement, education, transport, parks and water service improvement.

  • What is considered low income?

The United States has the highest level of poverty in 2020. Its median household income was $67,521. This is 6.9% less than the median income of $69,560 in 2019. In 2020, the median income for U.S. workers stood at $41.535. The median income for men was $49,389, while women earned $35,838.

  • What is the cheapest place to retire in the United States?

The Heart of Dixie is one of the top 10 states where you can retire comfortably. Huntsville in north Alabama is one of the most desirable. The state offers the same low-cost and low-tax benefits as other parts of Alabama, with more generous retirement incomes for residents.

  • Where is the happiest place to retire?

Cape Coral, Fla. Florida’s favorable climate and tax situation make it a popular choice for retirement. The Gulf Coast is home to many of the Sunshine State’s most popular retirement destinations, including Punta Gorda, Sarasota, and St. Petersburg.

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