Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Check Us Out! EESI is Making A Cameo!

This week the American Society on Aging and the National Council on Aging hosts the 2008 Aging in America Conference here in DC and the Elder Economic Security Initiative™ Program contributed to three workshops as well as a plenary. Please click on the headings below to view the presentations.

Women Must Act Now to Ensure Income Security as They Age
March 27, 2008 at 10:15 a.m.
Marriott Hotel, Balcony D

Redefining Elder Poverty and Income Adequacy
March 27, 2008 at 10:15 a.m.
Marriott Hotel, Washington Hall 5

Seniors in Poverty: A Daily Struggle
March 28, 2008 at 8:00 a.m.
Marriott Hotel – Thurgood Marshall Ballroom East
Plenary session featuring Joan Kuriansky, Executive Director of WOW as well as Msgr. Charles Fahey, NCOA Board member (pictured to the upper right)

Aging with Dignity: A National Campaign
March 29, 2008 at 9:15 a.m.
Marriott Hotel, Thurgood Marshall Ballroom East

We are extremely honored to be a part of such a distinguished group and we hope the conference attendees, as well as those of you gathering information here, gain a new perspective on economic security and income adequacy as a result of WOW's presence at the 2008 ASA-NCOA Aging in America Conference.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's Never Too Late

It's never too late to learn about or take strides toward economic security (nor is it ever too early). Although they have yet to become a part of mainstream thought, things like LiLAs and scholarships can make a difference in the lives of older Americans.

The AARP Foundation's Women's Scholarship Program is an exemplary opportunity for women to improve their economic security. The program "provides scholarship funds to women 40+ seeking new job skills, training, and educational opportunities to support themselves and their families, and improve their communities."

The first round of scholarships were awarded to a diverse group of women who, with the help of friends, family members, and counselors, recognized that economic security is not a lost cause.
[]Nearly 34% of the recipients are grandparents raising grandchildren
[]Roughly 62% of the recipients are using the scholarship funds for short vocational programs
[]Three recipients are military veterans
[]Two recipients are Hurricane Katrina survivors

Programs like these directly assist the population that the Elder Economic Security Initiative reaches out to by encouraging career advancement and strides toward economic security at all stages of life.

For information about strategies for Elder Economic Security, click here.

Comments Please: Do you think that creating more scholarship opportunities specifically for older adults will empower individuals to consider education and training programs as a vehicle for economic security later in life as a result of improved career paths?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Get a life! (Lifelong Learning Account that is...)

There's a new way to invest in your economic security and it's called a LiLA - a Lifelong Learning Account. At WOW our mission and efforts are focused on economic independence for women and girls at all stages of life. The pathway to income adequacy at all stages of life is career advancement!

LiLAs are employer-matched, portable individual savings accounts used to finance education and training—like a 401(k) for skill building and career advancement. With LiLAs, mature workers can upgrade their skills and knowledge to meet the needs of business and industry while achieving their personal career goals including working toward retirement security. Account funds can be used for a variety of training related costs such as tuition, fees, books, supplies, and even career counseling. One of our favorite features of the Council for Adult & Experiential Learning model LiLA is its universal eligibility meaning all individual workers are eligible for lifelong learning accounts.

The LiLA concept seems to be gaining popularity among companies, legislators, and other organizations concerned with workforce development. Lifelong learning strategies have proven beneficial for nations like Finland and could be one of the solutions we've been looking for as well. Putting personal growth and economic security as well as greater economic growth on the same team could encourage job growth across the board. LiLAs also create opportunities to support workers who want or may need to stay in the workforce to do so by proving opportunities to transfer manual labor job skills to positions which require less physical exertion.

Fore more information: visit the Council for Adult & Experiential Learning LiLA website

Comments Please: Do you think LiLAs are a good idea? Do you know of any companies that have added LiLAs to their benefit portfolio?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Seniors Going Hungry

This morning, the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing titled "Seniors Going Hungry in America: A Call to Action and Warning for the Future." There were 8 witnesses including representatives from government agencies, local volunteer groups, large non-profits and academia.

This hearing was significant because the issue of food insecurity among senior citizens continues to grow as America ages demographically. During the hearing, Committee members spent their time either applauding the panelists or grilling them for more data.

The interest of Committee members was peeked when an authority from the USDA Food Nutrition and Consumer Services tried to make the case that the often told story that elders only qualify for the $10 minimum Food Stamps benefit was a myth. According to a recent WOW brief, we know Food Stamps are not properly designed to support retired elders. Food Stamps are a work support (rather than an income support), and elders who lack earnings, child care and notable medical or medical insurance expenses (when they qualify for Medicaid or Medicare Savings Programs, do not pay for medical insurance, or cannot pay for medical insurance) are expected to pay for their own food. For instance, elder renters in low-cost counties in California with incomes just above the poverty level will receive less than 1% of their economic security from Food Stamps – no more than $10 in most cases. Single elder and elder couple renters in high-cost areas fare better, and will likely receive a 4%-7% boost in income security due to their higher housing expenses. Yet, food expenses often comprise 20% of a local Elder Economic Security Standard Index.

The USDA panelist also discussed something that we, at EESI, continue to work on which is dissolving the stigma for elders who need assistance. To that end, the panelist suggested that the USDA has been considering a name change for their electronic food stamps program.

Edwin Walker of the AoA also brought up an important subject, ADRCs - Aging and Disability Resource Centers. These centers are being implanted around the country to help seniors and caregivers learn about services and supports that can assist older Americans in achieving economic security.

FRAC's James Weill made an excellent point about the Food Stamps minimum benefit by stating "Because of the interaction between Social Security and Supplemental Security Income cash levels and food stamp rules, the $10 minimum applies most often to seniors and persons with disabilities. The amount helps too little and discourages very needy people from going through an often complicated application process (and may be paying $10 or $20 to get to and from the food stamp office) to obtain such a small amount. A significant increase in the minimum benefit is long overdue."

Senators Smith and Wyden focused on quality control, waiting lists problems and the need for more participation data.

For more information, click the link to the hearing's page: Seniors Going Hungry in America: A Call to Action and Warning for the Future

Comments Please: What are local organizations in your area doing to help prevent seniors from going without proper nutrition?