Friday, November 21, 2008

States Cutting Elder Services

The economic downturn continues to negatively affect elders, with new reports predicting more low-income seniors will be forced to leave their homes because of state budget cuts specifically in the area of elder benefits. In a Market Watch article this week titled, “States Cut Services for Elderly, Disabled”, it was reported that at least 15 states cut funding for programs that provided at-home services to elders such as cooking and cleaning. In addition, a total of 41 states are now being faced with current and alarming budget deficits. In Illinois, for example, the state government is $5 billion in debt.

However, states are not waiting on the federal government for a hand-out, no doubt realizing that the federal government’s attention is on helping the larger corporations at this point in time. States are taking matters into their own hands by passing state economic stimulus packages and other legislation to improve the economy statewide. The Ohio state government will be moving forward in 2009 with a passed $1.6 billion stimulus package to revive its weakening economy.

The Elder Economic Security Initiative Standard Index is a usefel tool on local and state levels that can be used to guide state deliberations by showing what exactly elders need to be secure. As states ambitiously move to strengthen their economy it is important to remember the important role of service providers and advocates that support elders in this crucial time. The reality is that now even more seniors need added support and benefits pushed for by both groups and taking funding away from these groups will only lead to more seniors unable to progress toward economic security.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Baby Boomers Feel the Squeeze

So we all know those of retirement age are postponing their plans and perhaps working longer, but what about the baby boomers on the cusp of retirement? According to an AARP special report, it looks like baby boomers are rethinking retirement and how they spend their money. Americans, age 45 to 59, that fit in this category are spending less, and trying to save more. Over 70% surveyed reduced how much they eat out since the economic crisis began while half have postponed travel plans. Taking retirement savings more seriously is a good thing for baby boomers. However, it becomes tough when many of these adults are also supporting their college-aged children with high tuition costs.

A key point derived from this article is that the economy will not improve by people not spending money as the baby boomer generation and most of the country seems to be doing at an increasing pace. It is important to focus on ways to make people feel and actually be economically secure. Through the Elder Economic Security Standard Index (“Elder Index”), anyone from legislators to college students can see how the costs of living for elders vary and the essential components in determining economic security in your retirement years. Obviously, as the cost of living increases, the Elder Index numbers will be updated and the updating of numbers is key to elder’s economic security. Contrarily, the Federal Poverty Level, an outdated measure of economic insecurity, fails to keep up with rising costs, such as healthcare, one of elders’ greatest expenses.

The Elder Index is the right tool for determining what people need to make the right decision about retirement. It provides data on the cost of housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and miscellaneous expenses to assist people in determining the best option for them, whether it is working longer, saving earlier, or a combination of both.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What does the President-elect think about Economic Security?

With the 2008 federal election cycle almost closed, the nation awaits the start of the 111th Congress and the inauguration of the first president to receive a majority of the popular vote since Jimmy Carter. But what do the numbers really tell us? The WOW PowerPoint found here offers a quick look at what the results, exit polls and other public research tells us in the context of supporting an agenda that creates viable, sustainable economic opportunities for all Americans, opportunities that offer financial stability and security and a clear path to achieving the American Dream.

I think we are pleased that the almost two-year presidential campaign season is over! Now it is time to really get to work on moving forward our economic security agenda. The EESI team is ready to get both President-elect Barack Obama and the 111th Congress on board to support our initiatives, so that elders can age in place with dignity and respect.

Here are the President-elect’s stance on our issues:

President-elect Barack Obama is committed to fighting economic insecurity. In his fact sheet, “Fighting Poverty and Creating a Bridge to the Middle Class”, he pledges to improve the American situation by:

1. Job Expansion and Creation
2. Income Expansion (such as the EITC)
3. Increasing the supply of affordable housing

Obama also has an agenda to address elder issues such as retirement and social security. His plan consists of key components such as:

1. Reform Corporate Bankruptcy Laws to Protect Workers and Retirees
2. Protecting Social Security by uncapping the full payroll tax of 12.4 percent for those making under $250,000.
3. Protect and Strengthen Medicare by reforming Medicare Part D.

Each of these agenda items work toward moving all people toward economic security and we are excited to get more involved with policy proposals and current legislation that when implemented will support our work, but more importantly support the lives of the elders we work for.

Despite the favorable agenda of the incoming President, there will still be a lot of work to do once the new Administration is installed to keep elder issues at the forefront of his and Congress’ agenda.We look forward to the challenge and hope you will join us in the effort.