American Senior Citizens Would be in Poverty Without Social Security
poverty report from Census Bureau drops 2.3 million more seniors below
poverty level – medical expense the significant factors
Sutherland, with materials from U.S. Census Bureau
Oct. 17, 2014 –
The last time we got a report on poverty in the U.S., which was just
weeks ago, senior citizens seemed to be doing pretty well. Although the
“official poverty” report said 4.2 million seniors lived in poverty, the
rate was flat with 2013. Now, the Census Bureau has reported a different
look, called the “supplemental poverty rate” and a few million more
seniors have dropped below the poverty rate.
supplemental poverty rate report there are 6.5 million people age 65 and
older living in poverty. That’s 2.3 million more than in the official
rate released in September. The rates were 14.6% in the supplemental
rating and just 9.5% in the official poverty report.
The really scary
part is that excluding Social Security would leave the majority of the
total senior population (52.6 percent or 23.4 million) in poverty. And
some people don’t understand why seniors get so upset about politicians
messing with Social Security!
Social Security benefits to income, the supplemental poverty rate
overall would have been 8.6 percentage points higher (or 24.1 percent
rather than 15.5 percent).
out-of-pocket expenses were a significant factor in pushing the senior
group below poverty in the supplemental.
supplemental poverty rates were lower than the official rates for
children and higher for those 65 and older, the rates for children were
still higher than the rates for both 18- to 64-year-olds and people 65
Rate of poverty in U.S. declines for first time since
2006, household income steady
Sept. 26, 2014 – There are a lot of very poor
senior citizens in the U.S. – 4.2 million in poverty says the Census
Bureau – but the latest look at poverty by the bureau finds the rate of
poverty for seniors did not change in 2013 from the 9.5 percent in 2012.
poverty rate was 15.5 percent in 2013, down from 16.0 percent in 2012,
according to the supplemental poverty measure released today by the U.S.
Census Bureau. The 2013 rate was higher than the official measure of
14.5 percent, but similarly declined from the corresponding rate in
million were below the poverty line in 2013 according to the
supplemental poverty measure, not statistically different from the
number in 2012. In 2013, 45.3 million were poor using the official
definition released last month in
Income and Poverty
in the United States: 2013.
are contained in the Census Bureau report
Poverty Measure: 2013, released with support from the Bureau
of Labor Statistics and describing research showing different ways of
measuring poverty in the United States.
poverty measure serves as an additional indicator of economic well-being
and provides a deeper understanding of economic conditions and policy
official poverty rate, the supplemental poverty measure takes into
account the impact of different benefits and necessary expenses on the
resources available to families, as well as geographic differences in
For example, the
measure adds refundable tax credits to cash income, which reduces the
supplemental poverty rate for all people by nearly three percentage
points (18.4 percent to 15.5 percent). For children, the supplemental
poverty rate of 16.4 percent would rise to 22.8 percent if refundable
tax credits were excluded.
supplemental poverty measure is an important tool that helps
policymakers and the public judge the effectiveness of social safety-net
programs in a way that the official poverty measure cannot,” said
Kathleen Short, a Census Bureau economist and the report’s author. “It
also helps us track how necessary expenses, such as paying taxes or
work-related and medical-out-of-pocket expenses, affect the economic
well-being of all families.”
poverty measure deducts various necessary expenses from income; these
include medical out-of-pocket expenses, income and payroll taxes, child
care expenses and work-related expenses. These expenses reduce income
available for purchasing essential basic goods, including food,
clothing, shelter and utilities and a small additional amount to allow
for other needs. Deducting medical out-of-pocket expenses increases the
supplemental poverty rate by 3.6 percentage points.
accounting for medical out-of-pocket expenses, the number of people
living below the poverty line would have been 37.5 million rather than
the 48.7 million people classified as poor with the supplemental poverty
poverty measure is an effort to take into account many of the government
programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that
were not included in the
poverty measure, released Sept. 16.
official poverty measure includes only pretax money income, the
supplemental measure adds the value of in-kind benefits, such as the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, school lunches, housing
assistance and refundable tax credits. Additionally, the supplemental
poverty measure deducts necessary expenses for critical goods and
services from income. Expenses that are deducted include taxes, child
care and commuting expenses, out-of-pocket medical expenses and child
support paid to another household.
compares 2013 supplemental poverty estimates to 2013 official poverty
estimates for numerous demographic groups at the national level. In
addition, the report presents supplemental poverty estimates for states
using three-year averages. At the national level, the report also
compares 2012 supplemental poverty estimates with 2013 estimates.
There has been a
continuing debate about the best approach to measure income and poverty
in the United States since the publication of the first official U.S.
poverty estimates in 1964. In 2009, an interagency group asked the
Census Bureau, in cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to
develop a new, supplemental measure to allow for an improved
understanding of the economic well-being of American families and the
way that federal policies affect those living in poverty.
presented in this report used the 2014 Current Population Survey Annual
Social and Economic Supplement with income information that referred to
calendar year 2013 to estimate supplemental poverty measure resources,
including the value of various in-kind benefits beyond cash income. (The
official poverty measure is based solely on cash income.)