Friday, February 13, 2009

Elders Can't Find Work, Can't Make Ends Meet

This week, I was struck by an article in the Baltimore Sun, “Job Loss Hits Seniors Especially Hard”. The article features a series of stories about elders living through these tough economic times. The truth is, these elders are barely making it and it’s because of no fault of their own. One woman featured represents the growing number of older workers, whose Social Security benefits are not enough to make ends meet, and are unable to find a job in the stagnant workforce. According to the article, in January there were 373,000 elders, age 65+ who were unemployed.

The economic recovery package addresses this issue somewhat by including funds for job training programs for low-income elders and a one-time increase of $250 in Social Security payments. Training is definitely a great place to start because without the correct training elders are not even qualified for the dwindling number of jobs available. Another inclusion in the recovery package is the expansion of the Senior Community Service Employment Program to create 24,000 additional jobs for elders. However, so much more can be done to help our elder community who has already worked long and hard for our current benefit.

For example, reforming the healthcare system so that elders pay less out-of-pocket would save elders a chunk of money to be used for things like paying bills. Healthcare reform is just a subset however, of a larger problem: the inability to accurately measure what monetary amount is necessary for elders to meet their basic needs. Is it really, $10,400 for all elders, regardless of where they live and/or their health status as the Federal Poverty Level states?
The Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index takes into account the geographic location of elders, and their health status in determining what elders need to be economically secure. In order for real change to occur, there must be an accurate standard in place, so that elder’s needs can be accurately met.

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