Senior Citizen Programs Targeted by U.S.
House-Approved Spending Bill
National Council on Aging lists programs; says bill
guts only jobs program for vulnerable older Americans
Feb. 23, 2011 - Cuts included in the spending bill
approved by the U.S. House of Representatives this past week would harm
senior citizens by drastically slashing initiatives that help older
Americans to sustain their economic independence and health, according
to the National Council on Aging, a non-profit service and senior
● Cut job
training and placement by over $2 billion, including a $525 million
cut in services specifically for low-income seniors;
● Cut senior
housing programs by $551 million;
● Cut Community
Health Centers that serve seniors by $1 billion;
● Cut low-income
home energy assistance by $390 million;
● Eliminate the
● Cut Community
Services Block Grants, which assist 2.3 million seniors, by $305
● Cut programs that
include senior volunteers by over $1 billion; and
● Cut the Social Security Administration
by $625 million, which will slow down claims.
The NCOA expressed particular concern that the
continuing appropriations bill provides for a 64% cut in the
Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), the only major
jobs program that is targeted specifically to helping disadvantaged
older adults who need to remain in or return to the workforce to avoid
SCSEP serves those with extremely low incomes, with
eligibility limited to 125% of the federal poverty line (currently
$13,613). This cut would result in the loss of over 83,000 part-time
jobs, thus eliminating the primary source of income for many of them.
"For older adults aged 55-64, who cannot yet claim
Social Security, the loss of this program could be particularly
devastating," said Jim Firman, president and CEO of the NCOA. "According
to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, older workers who have lost a
job are more likely than any other age group to face very long-term
unemployment and remain jobless for 99 weeks or more."
Public support for older adult jobs programs is
extremely high, according to a survey conducted by Lake Research
Partners for Wider Opportunities for Women in October 2010. The survey
found that 84% of Americans supported or strongly supported "funding
programs that help senior citizens find employment," including 90% of
Democrats polled, 79% of Republicans, and 79% of Independents.
"If the politicians truly 'listened to the people'
as they claim," said Firman, "they certainly would not cut jobs for
seniors, particularly in this economy."
The House legislation also calls for a $390 million
cut in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Almost
40% of households served by LIHEAP include an adult aged 60 or older.
This reduction will force older Americans to make life and death
decisions between buying food and medicine or home energy.
Employment and benefits are important pieces of the
puzzle for older adults who are living on the edge of poverty. NCOA is
committed to helping older adults build greater economic security, and
offers a variety of other resources, including:
Senior Environmental Employment (SEE) program provides an
opportunity for retired and unemployed older Americans aged 55+ to share
their expertise in jobs for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
BenefitsCheckUp.org is a free online screening tool that searches
over 2,000 federal, state, local, and private programs to help seniors
pay for prescription drugs, utility bills, meals, health care, and other
The NCOA is a non-profit service and advocacy
organization headquartered in Washington, DC., and says it is a national
voice for older Americans - especially those who are vulnerable and
disadvantaged - and the community organizations that serve them. For
more information, visit
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