Friday, September 3, 2010

Anti-poverty programs help bridge the gap to economic security

The economic downturn continues to have lasting effects on millions of Americans. According to an article in USA Today, anti-poverty programs now serve one in six Americans. These programs include Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, previously known as Food Stamps), Unemployment Insurance (UI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and others.

For elders on a fixed income, anti-poverty programs are critical in building economic security. According to the Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index (Elder Index), a measure of income adequacy for elders age 65, the gap from the average Social Security payment and what is needed for economic security is about $6,000 per year for a single elder renter. Although Social Security payments were never meant to serve as the sole source of income for older Americans, over 30% depend on Social Security for more than 90% or more of their income.

Anti-poverty programs vary in every state, but as an example, we can look at an elder with a very low fixed income in San Juan County, New Mexico – the latest state to join the Elder Economic Security Initiative. By examing each program’s impact, we demonstrate how programs help to close the income gap, with housing assistance providing the largest benefit.

(click on the chart to view it as a larger image)

It is critical to conduct outreach to elders so they are aware of income support programs that can help them make ends meet and meet the goal of economic security.


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