The Kaiser Family Foundation has prepared a new state-by-state snapshot of poverty among seniors which is a must-read for Washington politicians who might buy into the claim by some, like the Heritage Foundation, that Social Security benefits are "excessive". According to Heritage:
"Adopting the chained CPI (Consumer Price Index) in Social Security to more accurately account for changes in the cost of living is a small first step toward fixing a broken program that is currently accelerating its own demise by paying excess benefits."
The AARP Bulletin has the terrific summary of the Kaiser Senior Poverty report and what it means if Washington cuts Social Security benefits by adopting the Chained CPI.
Posted on 05/24/2013 by Tamara Lytle
Poverty levels are much higher for older Americans when you factor in how much they need to spend on health care, the Census Bureau has found.
Factoring in health care costs changes poverty statistics
While 9 percent or so of all Americans 65 and older were below the official poverty threshold in 2011 ($10,788 for an individual), 15 percent were below an alternative threshold that takes into account spending on health care.
The alternative measure also takes into account variations in the cost of living, taxes, whether a person receives food stamps, and whether a person is a homeowner, for example.
Now comes a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation that takes a state-by-state look at the alternative threshold (formally known as the “supplemental poverty measure”).
It finds that the share of older Americans living in poverty is higher in every state under the alternative measure, and at least twice as high in 12 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, Wisconsin and Wyoming. In five states (California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nevada, Georgia and New York) and the District of Columbia, roughly one of every five residents 65 and older are living in poverty, the report says.
Politico notes that there’s a political context to the Kaiser report: “The Kaiser brief says it’s meant to provide context for the many spending proposals being tossed around — particularly those that focus on shifting costs in Medicare and paring down Social Security benefits. It also notes that adopting ‘chained CPI,’ which slows the growth of Social Security benefits, would most likely make for higher poverty rates for older seniors across both census measures.”
Max Richtman, the president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said it’s proof that the safety net needs strengthening. “The Kaiser study validates that – for a larger share of seniors – the death of a spouse or serious illness is all it takes to push many older American into the indignity of a poverty-ridden old age,” he says. “That’s why we continue to tell lawmakers that it is wrong to cut benefits for the oldest and most vulnerable Americans who would be least able to afford it. In fact, the decline of employer-sponsored retirement, and the recession’s erosion of retirement savings, mean that the percentage of Americans who depend on Social Security for most of their income will only continue to grow.”
CATEGORY: [entitlement reform], [Retirement], [Social Security]
The month of May is designated as Asian American Heritage Month. In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander heritage, this blog is from Bao Lor at the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center. This post is also posted to the Diverse Elders Coalition blog here.
Life Lessons from a Hmong Grandfather to His Granddaughter
The following is a guest post from SEARAC’s Bao Lor.
“Wake up, kids! It’s 6:30!” my grandpa said as he pulled off the blanket that covered my head. I moved around, pretending to stretch and then curling back into a ball. Through my squinted eyes, I could see that my siblings were still lying next to me. I popped my head up and looked at the alarm clock across the room. It read: 6:10. This was my daily routine growing up. I grew up with my grandparents taking care of me and my siblings since my parents were always so busy working. For as long as I can remember, my grandpa was always the one taking me and my siblings to school every morning, and picking us up every afternoon once school got out. We numbered a total of eight kids at the time who were all attending elementary, middle, and high school. My grandpa always said that once he dropped us all off at school, within an hour or so, he would have to start picking us up again. This was true given the fact that we were in almost every grade level.
I never knew if my grandpa ever grew tired of doing the same thing every day because he never complained about us. Instead, he always dropped us off 30 minutes before the school bell rang and would always be waiting at the same spot to pick us up before school got out. He was never late and always made sure he got all the kids back home safe and sound. He even made sure that we took care of each other once we were at school. “Don’t mess around, and make sure you big kids watch out for the little kids,” he would say every morning when he dropped us off at school.
Because I spent my whole childhood with my grandpa, I got to know and love him very much. I admired the fact that he never gave up on himself. As a refugee from Laos who arrived in the U.S. in 1990, he did his best to quickly adjust to America. He managed to teach himself how to drive, which gave him a whole lot of freedom. And even though he only knew two English words: “yes” and “no,” he managed to find junk yards where he could buy metals and other materials to make his own tools and furniture, putting the blacksmith skills he had brought with him from Laos to good use.
I am thankful that my grandpa taught me to love because he raised all twelve of his grandchildren out of pure love: taking us to school every morning, picking us up from school every afternoon, and making sure that we were safe and sound. He also taught me courage because even though he did not speak any English, he managed to be independent in his own way in America. Growing up, I learned so much from this man and I wished that I could have had more time with him. Now, he is at rest and may his soul be at peace. Mus zoo, kuv yawg. I will always remember all the great memories we shared together. Thank you for everything.
May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. I wrote this post to honor an elder and the AAPI hero in my life. Read more stories about grandparent wisdom (and submit your own!) at www.searac.tumblr.com.
CATEGORY: [Aging Issues], [Retirement]
Each year Salary.com provides an interesting look into the uncompensated work performed by American mothers who are often their families’ CEO, driver, cook, housekeeper, psychologist, and daycare provider.
“Obviously this is all in good fun and in no way 100% scientific, but for the 13th consecutive year we're doing our small part to show everyone how important mothers are by calculating what they would be paid if they actually received a salary for all of their hard work.” Salary.com
Salary.com also provides a tool to help you break down, in dollars and cents, the value of work which is generally ignored by government, employers and other official institutions that calculate productivity.
Here are some basics found in this year’s survey:
· Stay-at-home moms work an average of 94 hours per week for a total estimated "mom salary" of $113,586 a year. That figure is slightly more than last year. The average salary for stay-at-home moms – calculated based on what they would be paid if they were compensated for their work – rose by $624.
This survey provides a lighthearted perspective on an issue with real economic and policy implications for American families. What happens to the millions of American women who worked in the home (not in a traditional job) when they retire? How about those women who quit jobs to become full-time caregivers for a family member? Unfortunately, far too many women face economic insecurity in their retirement.
For too long, the real world challenges facing millions of American retirees have been ignored in favor of a single-minded quest by many in Washington to use Social Security and Medicare benefit cuts to reduce the deficit. However, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare believes our focus should be on passage of initiatives to ensure Social Security benefits are adequate for all Americans, particularly for women. The poverty rate for senior women and widows is 50% higher than other retirees 65 and older, yet even as we celebrate this Mother's Day, this benefit inequity is largely ignored and millions of American mothers, grandmothers, and widows pay the price.
The NCPSSM Foundation, working with the National Organization for Women Foundation and the Institute for Women's Policy Research, has examined the challenges facing America’s elderly women and their families and offered several forward-thinking proposals to modernize benefits. The culmination of our research is a report called “Breaking the Social Security Glass Ceiling.”
Some highlights of our proposals include:
• Improving Survivor Benefits. Women living alone often are forced into poverty because of benefit reductions stemming from the death of a spouse. Providing a widow or widower with 75 percent of the couple's combined benefit treats one-earner and two-earner couples more fairly and reduces the likelihood of leaving the survivor in poverty.
• Providing Social Security Credits for Caregivers. We recommend imputed earnings for up to five family service years be granted to a worker who leaves or reduces his/her participation in the work force to provide care to children under the age of six or to elderly family members.
This Mother’s Day the National Committee would like to suggest a gift of economic security for our moms. Of course, this isn’t something you can wrap with a bow but it’s something we should all demand that Congress address for current and future generations of retirees.
CATEGORY: [Aging Issues], [Retirement], [Social Security]
Did you know May is Older American and Asian-Pacific American month? Ok, we know you’re not likely to be hosting a big party in celebration and your local bars haven’t set out extra tables for the expected crowds; however, what is important about these designations is the opportunity it provides to talk about American communities which might be overlooked in our national debate otherwise.
In the case of older Americans, the U.S. Census Bureau has provided a terrific breakdown of its most recent survey’s statistics on what our nation’s senior community looks like. Here are some interesting stats:
41.4 million - The number of people who were 65 and older in the United States on July 1, 2011, up from 40.3 million on April 1, 2010 (Census Day). In 2011, this group accounted for 13.3 percent of the total population.
92.0 million - Projected population of people 65 and older in 2060. People in this age group would comprise just over one in five U.S. residents at that time. Of this number, 18.2 million would be 85 or older.
Nearly 17% - Projected percentage of the global population that would be 65 and older in 2050, up from 8 percent today. In 2005, Europe became the first major world region where the population 65 and older outnumbered those younger than 15. By 2050, it would be joined by Northern America (which includes Canada and the United States), Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Oceania (which includes Australia and New Zealand).
$33,118 - The 2011 median income of households with householders 65 and older, not significantly different from the previous year.
8.7% - The percent of people 65 and older who were in poverty in 2011, statistically unchanged from 2010. There were 3.6 million seniors in poverty in 2011.
16.1% - The percentage of people 65 and older who were in the labor force in 2010, up from 12.1 percent in 1990. These older workers numbered 6.5 million in 2010, up from 3.8 million in 1990. By 2011, this rate had increased to 16.2 percent.
70.3% - Percentage of citizens 65 and older reporting casting a ballot in the 2008 presidential election. Not statistically different from those 45 to 64 (69.2 percent), people 65 and older had the highest turnout rate of any age group.
53,364 - The number of people 100 years old and older counted by the 2010 Census.
CATEGORY: [Aging Issues], [baby boomers], [Retirement]
A new Rasmussen poll highlights the absurdity of Congress’ decision to swoop in and prove they can “work together” – at least when it’s in their own best interests – by lifting the sequester’s impact on the FAA.
“Congress cited public outrage as the reason for moving swiftly to end flight delays caused by the sequester. However, very few Americans were actually impacted.”
In fact, only 16% of Americans even know anyone impacted. Commentator Richard Eskow was among that tiny minority. He offers these thoughts:
“At no point during my mini-"ordeal" did I think "Boy, I'd be happy to cut my Social Security and everybody else's too so this won't happen again." The thought never even crossed my mind.
So I was disappointed when the President used his weekly national address to push, not for a total repeal of the sequester, but for his "compromise" austerity budget - a budget which includes unnecessary cuts to Social Security. The title of his address - "Time to Replace the Sequester with a Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction" - betrays a continued unawareness of either the pain caused by these unwise cuts or the shifting economic reality which has discredited Washington's deficit mania.
The only sensible thing to do is to cancel the entire sequester. And stop trying to use it to gin up hysteria so they can put through other unpopular cuts. Just can it.”
As a reminder, here are just some of the real cuts Americans face because of this sequester:
Thousands of cancer patients are being turned away from cancer clinics for chemotherapy treatments due to Medicare cuts
140,000 low-income families – mostly disabled elders and families with children - are losing rental assistance vouchers
- 70,000 children are being kicked out of Head Start programs
- The Caregiver support program will be cut by $12.6 million
- The Meals on Wheels program will be cut by 17 million meals
“Michele Daley, director of nutrition services at the Local Office on Aging, which serves Roanoke, Alleghany, Botetourt and Craig counties in Virginia, said the agency expects to receive $95,000 less in federal funds this year (it has an operating budget of $1 million). They're gradually reducing the number of people receiving daily meals from 650 to 600 as a result of the budget cuts. Already, the office has planned to stop handing out most emergency meals -- bags of shelf-stable items like canned beans distributed in advance of snowstorms and holidays. And they've instituted a waiting list. "We've never had a waiting list," Daley said. "This is the first time ever and it's a direct result of sequestration." Huffington Post
Time Goes By blogger, Ronni Bennett expressed the frustration so many feel (outside the Beltway anyway),
“Judging from past performance and publicly professed ideology, I would have thought there are several senators who coulda/woulda/shoulda stopped this legislation: Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), maybe even my two Oregon senators, Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.
But no. Not one senator (nor even the president) took a principled stand for needy elders, children and their families not to mention Medicare cancer patients denied chemotherapy drugs, some of whom will die as a result. (Yes, they will.)
But never mind. Congress members and rich people will not be caused "unnecessary harm," (as White House Spokesman Carney so helpfully explained) by airport delays. This is the country we live in now. “
Rather than end on such a down note, we thought you’d also enjoy comedian Jon Stewart’s take on the whole ridiculous situation and Mike Thompson's editorial cartoon to help soften the edges of your outrage:
Mike Thompson: Detroit Free Press
CATEGORY: [Aging Issues], [Budget], [healthcare], [Medicare], [Retirement], [Social Security]
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