There were a record 2,164,338 people on welfare last October, up 4,530 from the previous month, as the elderly increasingly turned to government assistance, the welfare ministry said Wednesday.
A record 1,594,729 households also were receiving welfare, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
More elderly are relying on welfare because they receive little or no pension, a ministry official said.
Households composed of at least one person aged 65 or older made up 45 percent of all households on welfare at 719,398, up 2,399 from September.
The government is set to revise down the baseline payment for essentials such as food and utilities by 0.4 percent in April, having judged that the consumption tax hike that month will be offset by lower overall living costs.