Tags: Older | Americans | Basics | expenses

Millions of Older Americans Fall Short on Basics

Monday, 05 March 2012 08:13 AM

Increasingly, millions of older Americans cannot keep up with even basic living expenses, according to new research.

Seniors in the Northeast and Southeast are the hardest hit, but in none of the 50 states do median incomes rise enough to meet the Elder Index, a comprehensive measure of what it takes to finance basic living costs, reports Washington, D.C. think tank Wider Opportunities for Women.

With a median income gap of $10,248, seniors in Massachusetts are more likely to face economic insecurity than in any other state, followed by seniors in D.C., New York, Hawaii, Connecticut and New Jersey.

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Massachusetts seniors need $27,048 to get by, but the median earns $16,800 — or 62 percent of the statewide index.

The Elder Index defines “economic security” as the income level at which seniors have sufficient incomes from Social Security, pensions, retirement savings and other sources to cover basic and necessary living expenses without public support, such as food assistance, energy assistance or subsidized housing.

The gap between median income and the Elder Index narrows in states such as Alaska (96 percent), Montana (93 percent) and Utah (91 percent), but no region of the country offers a haven for typical older adults, reported the study.

The index takes into account local differences; for example, a typical older renter in West Virginia needs $19,416 per year to cover expenses while a typical renter in New Jersey needs $27,960.

The official U.S. poverty rate for all ages in 2010 was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009. This was the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate, according to the U.S. Census.

Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, to 15.1 percent from 12.5 percent.

In 2010, 46.2 million people in the country were in poverty, up from 43.6 million in 2009.

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Monday, 05 March 2012 08:13 AM
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