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Share of the elderly living at various poverty levels, 2009-11.

More than half of elderly women, and nearly half of the nation's entire senior population, is "just one bad economic shock away from significant material hardship." That's the finding from the Economic Policy Institute, which just released a study of the nation's elderly, and the risk to them if policies like those floated in President Obama's grand bargain or Paul Ryan's budget were enacted. The key findings are pretty damned scary.

  • Nearly half (48.0 percent) of the elderly population in the United States is “economically vulnerable,” defined as having an income that is less than two times the supplemental poverty threshold (a poverty line more comprehensive than the traditional federal poverty line).1 This equates to roughly 19.9 million economically vulnerable seniors.
  • The older elderly—people age 80 and older—have a far higher rate of economic vulnerability (58.1 percent) than people age 65 to 79 (44.4 percent).
  • Women are 10.7 percentage points more likely to fall below two times the supplemental poverty threshold than men (52.6 versus 41.9 percent)
  • The majority of elderly blacks and Hispanics are economically vulnerable: 63.5 percent of blacks and 70.1 percent of Hispanics, age 65 and older, have incomes less than two times the supplemental poverty threshold. In comparison, 43.8 percent of whites are economically vulnerable.
  • The share of economically vulnerable elderly varies across the United States, from a low of 35.4 percent in North Dakota to a high of 59 percent in the District of Columbia.
  • Under House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s proposed changes to Medicare, the predicted increase in seniors’ out-of-pocket health costs would raise the share of economically vulnerable elderly (those below two times the supplemental poverty threshold) by 8.4 percentage points, pushing the share up to 56.4 percent. That means almost 3.5 million more seniors would be economically insecure.
  • Reductions in Social Security benefits arising from a proposed shift to indexing cost-of-living adjustments to the chained consumer price index (chained CPI) would also push more elderly into economic insecurity. For example, a switch to the chained CPI would boost the share of 70- to 75-year-olds below two times the supplemental poverty threshold by 1.2 percentage points, resulting in 132,000 more economically vulnerable seniors.
The argument that Social Security should be expanded rather than cut is gaining some steam with every report showing just how vulnerable retirees and near-retirees are to real poverty. Here's another one.

It's time to change the debate.

Please join with Daily Kos and Campaign for America's Future by signing our petition telling every member of Congress to increase Social Security benefits by passing The Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 01:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (44+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 01:30:40 PM PDT

  •  It scares me (12+ / 0-)

    Even more so reading and hearing some younger people who see older as a problem and that the older are taking too much social benefits.

    I don't know who started that line of thought but it really bothers me considering the majority of us older folk worked hard for many years paying into those social benefits. A good portion of those same older folk fed and raised those younger people, while us who didn't have kids still paid taxes that went into schools, libraries and a lot more.

    While those under 80 might be less vulnerable, is it because they are still having to work long after they should have stopped? I wonder too if women were paid equally then would the higher number of vulnerable women decrease in the future?

    There is a lot here to think about. Thanks for posting this.

  •  I Don't Get Why The Elderly Vote GOP (0+ / 0-)

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 02:29:02 PM PDT

    •  Not all the elderly vote GOP (6+ / 0-)

      I think the focus tends to be on those that do. I do wonder if those that do vote GOP tend to be more vocal about it.

      Sadly I think it's always been that older folks are more vulnerable to fear tactics. The GOP has been great with trying to make people afraid. The things they did using 9/11 is a wonderful example of that.

      Also older people tend to be more insular. Age makes it harder to get around so less older people in the US get out and about. How many do we know who's main source of entertainment is their television? Considering what is on television it's no wonder there are more older people who have been persuaded to vote GOP.

      If the Dems want to reach these voters they can do it. It's cracking the tools of the GOP that is needed. I think making the "social net" a real topic on television will make a difference. Also continuing to point out how Faux News and the other are wrong does make a difference.

      My fear is us older folk are going to get written off as a lost cause.

      •  blukat, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tikkun, denise b, Sunspots

        You say:

        My fear is us older folk are going to get written off as a lost cause.
        Respectfully, you already have been.

        Why do you think the Administration is trying to enact the 'Chained CPI,' which in turn means that your monthly Social Security benefit check will be 'less' than you are currently scheduled to receive?

        This proposed cut was included in the 2013-2013 Budget.  And Dems are still trying to negotiate a 'Grand Bargain' in committee.


        "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


        by musiccitymollie on Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 06:41:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  They don't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Only about half of them do, and most of those are men.

      By all means, let's punish the elderly women because we think they might not all be voting for Obama.

      "If you can't take their money, eat their food, drink their booze and then vote against them, you have no business being in DC."

      by Betty Pinson on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 06:27:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not the economically vulnerable females who (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      vote GOP; it's the rich, white guys who vote GOP.

  •  The big question is why Social Security benefits (8+ / 0-)

    don't take into consideration that it takes two person's social security checks to exist.  One person dies, the higher of the checks accrues to the remaining spouse.  Not enough to live on.  Why not both?  Duh!

    Same should be said for one person living on one check, not two.  No spouse, or no legally recognized spouse.

    Crazy.  I'm almost past thinking that government is ever going to exist to really provide protection to the people whom it is constitutionally obligated to protect.

    Is anyone even thinking about electing people who give a shit about getting any of this done?

    Shiny objects are out there.  Grab one.

    In the time it took Adam Lanza to reload, eleven children escaped. What if...

    by Sixty Something on Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 03:16:20 PM PDT

    •  'Shiny objects are out there. Grab one.' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ginny in CO

      Hear, hear, Sixty Something! ;-)


      "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


      by musiccitymollie on Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 06:22:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Given that those stats are from (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini, Sunspots

      2009 to 2011, I suspect the numbers are worse. Women approaching 60 like myself, who were laid off in that period, have not been able to get jobs, ran out of unemployment, could not keep up with mortgages, COBRA, etc. We are now on food stamps, Medicaid and whatever other assistance is available.  

      yeah, just what we were planning for our golden years...

      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

      by Ginny in CO on Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 08:29:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's the war on women (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, Sunspots

    Grandma either goes through all the money taking care of grandpa or grandma is single and has nobody to rely on for help herself.  I so want people to have a choice about when they are ready to die and be able to do it with dignity.  

    Shine like the humblest star.

    by ljm on Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 05:25:09 PM PDT

  •  Women who don't pay into SS (0+ / 0-)

    nor into pension like programs are guaranteeing that they will be financially ruined in old age.  

    Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

    by tikkun on Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 07:34:52 PM PDT

    •  or those who don't have traditional jobs (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drmah, akmk
    •  Or those who have moved in & out of the workplace (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, akmk, Gorette

      while raising families, etc.  

      It's difficult to imagine that women who have worked hard all their lives, raising families and taking care of everyone end up being deliberately treated so badly when they become to old to work.

      "If you can't take their money, eat their food, drink their booze and then vote against them, you have no business being in DC."

      by Betty Pinson on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 06:33:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Those who lived in times of unequal opportunity (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra77, Gorette

      and worked lots of jobs with low wages and little or no benefits.

    •  not quite true (0+ / 0-)

      Any adult who is not disabled, never works (or never works above board with reported wages), and has never been married for at least ten years to someone who worked on the books, is in deep trouble.

      However, women or men who were stay-at-home spouses/parents can collect under their spouse's record, so they're not totally without income. That's also true of spouses who earned significantly less than the other spouse; you have a choice of collecting under your own earnings record or your spouse's, whichever is better. And as long as you were married at least ten years, divorce or widowhood doesn't matter.

      The SS system isn't perfect, but it is designed to try to respond reasonably fairly to a variety of scenarios.

      The people who are really screwed are people who think they're beating the system by working cash and not reporting their income so they don't have to pay all those nasty unfair taxes. IMO they deserve it, because they didn't contribute to everyone else's support and to the common good during their working years.

  •  Maybe in their sick minds the War on Women (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    makes sense as it is a war on poverty? (or some such sick and incomprehensible thought that only makes sense to them)

  •  The number one thing that infuriates me (7+ / 0-)

    about the Austerity Cult is that they talk about our Social Safety Net as if it is lavishly generous. Like undeserved wealth is spoon ladled over the parasitic elderly like stolen mana from above. It is anything but.

    Our Social Safety Net is what is barely adequate, and it is under assault at all times because discussions of it are often governed/dictated by the capricious whims of people who don't need it, any part of it, and never will.

    I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

    by LeftHandedMan on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 06:21:39 PM PDT

  •  So here it is, elderly people esp. women will be (0+ / 0-)

    crushed with economic burden if we make wrong decisions.

  •  Of Course I Know This (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akmk, barbwires, Cassandra77, Gorette, gorgonza

    I could write the story of an educated middle class woman who divorced after 29 yrs, got cancer, re-financed to pay medical bills, etc etc etc. Savings, stocks, 401-k gone to the banks, every one.  When we will ever learn?  

    I work, and I'm going down. If it's happening to me, a woman with an embarrassing abundance of advantages, then I cannot bear to imagine what is happening to women even slightly less fortunate.

    Unless I can figure out a way to save myself, it's just a matter of time, too sooner than later, embarrassingly soon, before I'm on the streets myself.

    My situation is dire. But tens of thousands of older women are in critical condition. There is a valid reason for higher suicide rates. Many of us don't have the extensive family support system that we might have had in Victorian England. No sons or daughters, sisters or brothers, cousins or nieces who will take us in. It's bewildering, trying to figure out a way to live.      

    •  First we must celebrate that we are survivors to (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Empower Ink, Cassandra77, Gorette

      have made it this far.  

      Second, we must continue to be survivors in every way we can.

      Third, we must use our voices on behalf of the most vulnerable, clearly.

    •  I so agree with your comment......and I'm there, (0+ / 0-)

      already in poverty --for 11 years now.

      I keep wishing there were networks, ways for really millions of us, to band together, join forces, and help each other by pooling resources.

      No more "rooming houses" where you could get by on less, not have to pay all utilities, share meals, be close to public transportation, etc.

      We're basically on our own even WITH family. They don't want to change their lives if there's anyway to avoid it. I have lots of relatives and though I'm 70, divorced, on my own, living on $781 a month, no one offers to "take me in." I'd have to have a health emergency for that to happen and then it may be too late to enjoy life for any length of time as I might now. Even though people love you, they just don't have that ethic any more.

      As you said:

      It's bewildering, trying to figure out a way to live.      
      It's an everyday anxiety.... questions like, "How will I go on if (such and such) happens?" are always right there.

      I'm not cheering you up, but I can't.

      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

      by Gorette on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:51:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sadly, the most vulnerable are women of "Macho" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kentucky DeanDemocrat, Gorette

    husbands who handled all the money, didn't want the little woman to work and gave her peanuts to run the home, but made absolutely no provisions fro her survival after he passed on.

  •  The really disgusting thing is that women make (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra77, Gorette

    less money than men and for those who are already or soon to be collecting SS, also made lower wages but paid into the fund.  To boot, our pensions have been stolen, our saving depleted by illness, helping our parents AND our kids and the loss of jobs.....  This is a slap in our faces....

  •  Economically vulnerable is a very genteel way of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra77, Gorette

    saying hanging on by a thread.

  •  Just asking, How the H*** do they know? (0+ / 0-)

    We complain about massive data-mining, but I'm always curious in these studies how the heck the researchers got the data that they're using. My tax returns are supposedly confidential, ditto my bank and brokerage account information. Yet they claim to have extremely detailed, down to decimal points, information on who has how much monthly income etc. etc.

    Unless I see the methodology, I have very little confidence in any of these economic studies, because I don't trust the quality of the data. I suspect that either they are amalgamating data that we'd rather they not have access to, and which doesn't include a lot of key information; or they're doing household surveys of say 2,000 people in suburban Wichita and then generalizing to millions of seniors.

  •  Not at risk, already there and it's not fun. (0+ / 0-)

    Some health problems, getting out of the job market, having to move near family then not being able to get another job in years!! That'll do it, and once there when you are old you cannot get out of it.

    Then they reduced my Food Stamps by half last year for no reason explained--- here in FL, what do you expect?

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:38:52 AM PDT

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