One in Six Senior
Citizens Live in Poverty, NCOA Offers to Help Build Economic Security
With first Boomers
turning 65, and economy still recovering, the number of older Americans
struggling to make ends meet likely to continue to grow
Jan. 24, 2011 -
One in six older Americans lives below the federal poverty line,
according to a new government analysis which almost doubles the number
of very poor seniors compared to the standard estimate. The National
Council on Aging has launched a pilot program to help with a personal
approach to financial counseling, education, and benefits coordination.
At 16%, the
proportion of seniors living in poverty is also higher than the
proportion of all Americans in poverty. The plight of poor women is
particularly striking: 43% of Hispanic women who live alone, and 34% of
black women who live alone, live in poverty, according to
Supplemental Poverty Measure Research, an alternative calculation
from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Poverty Measure is a U.S. Census research tool that considers previously
overlooked costs like out-of-pocket medical expenses and taxes that can
create economic stress for seniors on fixed incomes.
"Too often, the
struggles of elder poverty are invisible to policymakers and the public,
yet millions are suffering and millions more are living on the edge of a
financial crisis," said Sandra Y. Nathan, PhD, Senior Vice President of
Economic Security at the NCOA, a leading nonprofit service and advocacy
organization for older Americans.
desperately need help assessing and navigating the options available to
assist them in getting on a pathway to
economic security, to meet their basic needs, survive an emergency,
and afford medical care," Dr. Nathan added.
With the first
Boomers turning 65 this year, and savings, investments, and housing
values still reeling from the economic downturn, the number of seniors
who are struggling to make ends meet is likely to continue to grow.
Economic Security Initiatives Offer Solutions: Putting It All Together
low-income older adults face multiple challenges, NCOA has launched a
pilot program to provide economic casework, a one-on-one, holistic
approach to solving problems of economic security through financial
counseling, education, and benefits coordination, or "financial planning
for the rest of us."
NCOA's Economic Security Service Centers have helped more than 700
older adults develop personalized "economic action plans." These plans
help seniors find out what benefits they are eligible for and navigate
an often confusing and fractured network of public and private programs.
"In this current
economy, aging service organizations often find themselves stretched to
try to assist clients with hard-to-solve financial problems that they
feel ill-equipped to handle," said Ramsey Alwin, Director of NCOA's
Economic Security Initiative.
national demonstration we are building the network's capacity to better
assist older adults struggling with financial issues. Already the
majority of clients have increased their economic security, with clients
in New York City experiencing an average increase of 13% or more," Ms.
Security Service Centers launched in April 2010 with support from the
Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. In December 2010, the
demonstration expanded and deepened its work in communities with the
support of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.
for Older Adults
NCOA also offers
a portfolio of programs to help seniors build their economic security by
finding and accessing the benefits and services for which they are
BenefitsCheckU p.org, a free online screening tool that searches
over 2,000 federal, state, local, and private programs that help seniors
pay for prescription drugs, utility bills, meals, health care, and other
Job Training and placement, through the Senior Community Service
Employment Program (SCSEP) and Senior Environmental Employment (SEE)
programs, offering low-income people age 55 and over the training to
build their skills and the confidence to find jobs and supplement their
Council on Aging is a non-profit service and advocacy organization
headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA says it is a national voice for
older Americans - especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged
- and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together
non-profit organizations, businesses and government to develop creative
solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with
thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs
and benefits, improve their health, live independently and remain active
in their communities. For more information, visit
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