NU Online News Service, Dec. 3, 3:15 p.m. – The U.S. General Accounting Office says private financial institutions have contributed to the improving fnances of U.S. residents over age 65.

Ninety percent of elderly U.S. couples received Social Security benefits in 1998, up from 69% in 1962, and none in 1937, when the program was founded, GAO researchers report.

But the percentage of elderly couples receiving pension benefits has also increased, to 43% in 1998, from 18% in 1962 and only 5% in 1937, the researchers write.

The share of couples getting “asset income” increased to 63%, from 54% in 1962 and 15% in 1937.

The GAO gives those figures, along with detailed figures on the finances of older Americans and projections for the future, in “Social Security: Program’s Role in Helping Ensure Income Adequacy.”

The GAO prepared report for the House Ways & Means Committee Social Security Subcommittee.

The report is available on the Web, at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0262.pdf