Thursday, November 26, 2015

Financial help on the way for low-income seniors

There are new resources available in our community for adults age 55 and older who are struggling financially.

Surprisingly, the current federal poverty guideline (an individual making $29,425 or less or a couple earning less than $39,825) does not reflect healthcare costs. If it did, the older adult poverty rate would be considerably higher. Increased medical costs for older adults greatly reduce the income available to meet food and housing needs.

Special challenges exist for low-income adults in different age groups. The 55-to-64 age group faces one set of hurdles, while those 65 and older face another set.

Those 55 to 64 need to work but often face longer periods of joblessness and have less of a chance of finding a job than their higher-income peers. Their limited budgets are stretched even further by expenditures on healthcare, since they’re not yet eligible for Medicare. According to a recent study, medical spending for adults between the ages of 55 and 64 is almost twice the amount spent by those between the ages of 35 and 44. In certain instances, these same low-income older adults may be caring for and financially supporting grandchildren or aging parents, further tightening their income.

Most Americans age 65 and older receive support from Social Security and Medicare. These same seniors, however, may be coping with lower retirement savings that need to be stretched as they live longer lives.Most Americans age 65 and older receive support from Social Security and Medicare. These same seniors, however, may be coping with lower retirement savings that need to be stretched as they live longer lives.

Women in the 65-plus age group are more likely than men to face economic hardship due to lower earnings, absence from the labor market due to childbirth, and work that was less likely to have employer-sponsored retirement plans. Furthermore, their smaller retirement savings have to last longer because women outlive men by an average of five years.

So what can we do for these particularly at-risk populations? For starters, we can help them get educated on what resources are out there. Older adults with serious economic needs often don’t know where to turn.

Due to a recent partnership between The National Council on Aging and Thousand Oaks-based Senior Concerns, free programs aimed at improving the economic security of our community’s older adults with annual incomes below $29,425 will be offered in the coming weeks and months.

They begin Thurs., Dec. 17 with the first one-stop shop for economic checkups designed to highlight community resources available to assist adults in managing budgets, saving money, finding work and setting financial goals. It’s free and confidential.

The National Council on Aging’s EconomicCheckUp service, begun in 2010, has been highly successful in helping low-income seniors achieve greater financial stability. Participants have experienced an average increase in income and/or decrease in budget expenses of $250 a month, or $3,000 a year.

Fifty-four percent of those screened were eligible for at least one major benefit, including the Medicare Savings Program, Part D Low-Income Subsidy, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or State Prescription Assistance Program.

Also on Dec. 17, Senior Concerns and Bank of America will present a community seminar titled “Savvy Saving Seniors, It’s in the Cards” from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at Senior Concerns, 401 Hodencamp Road, Thousand Oaks.

Low-income seniors looking for ways to better manage and protect their money sometimes find government-issued and prepaid cards a popular alternative to traditional checking accounts and credit an d debit cards. This seminar will explore the questions to ask about prepaid card fees, tips and tricks for managing and protecting prepaid cards, and information on cardassociated scams.

If you meet the age and income qualifications and wish to make an appointment for an economic checkup or a reservation for the seminar, please contact Senior Concerns at (805) 497-0189.

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Categories: Elder FinanceNumber of views: 2795

Tags: economic security

Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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