Friday, January 28, 2011

Economic Progress?

Our Michigan partner, Elder Law of Michigan, discusses their priorities in the new year and the importance of programs and services in their state to  an elder's ability to age in place. 

A new year means new political leaders here in Michigan and new challenges and opportunities in carrying forth the elder economic security agenda at the state and community levels. Michigan’s state of the state address outlined the various challenges our state must work through to get back on track and strengthen our state economy. During these times, however, we must remember the plight of our seniors and not leave them behind as we strive for overall economic progress. 

As the lead state partner for the Michigan Elder Economic Security Initiative we aim to educate policy makers on the true cost of retiring in our state. In Michigan, a single elder renter needs $19,058 a year to make ends meet. Let’s not forget seniors received no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to their Social Security benefits this year, nor an emergency payment to supplement the COLA freeze. Despite this, the costs of food, gasoline and other basic goods continue to rise.  

This adds to the increased necessity of funding state programs and services that help seniors age in place. Elder Law of Michigan’s priority is to provide older adults with trusted information and support with programs that aid in legal, financial and personal-security issues that enable older adults to live comfortably and independently in their homes as they age. Elder Law of Michigan strives to be the most trusted resource for adults to ensure that they are safe, informed and treated fairly.

We encourage you to join the fight for a secure retirement for all seniors in your community and across the state. For more information on how to get involved with the Michigan Elder Economic Security Initiative, e-mail Though times are tough, our voices must remain united and strong. Together, we can create real change this year and improve the economic security of our elder loved ones.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Reforming Tax-Free Retirement Savings to Help Low-Income Workers

This week, the Center on American Progress’ (CAP) Tax Expenditure of the Week series focused on tax-free retirement savings. Specifically, the brief noted that high earners benefit from this tax expenditure the most since they have more disposable income to put into savings. According to CAP, tax-free retirement savings are the second-largest tax expenditure yet, “Eighty percent of the tax benefits are claimed by the top twenty percent of income earners. The bottom three-fifths enjoy only seven percent of the benefit.”

To shift the balance and benefit of this tax expenditure to low-income workers, CAP discussed several ideas, including providing tax credits to workers rather than deductions. This would result in workers receiving the same dollar amount regardless of income. Consequently, this would help those in the low and middle-income brackets by providing a subsidy worth more percentage wise than that of the high earners.

As shown by WOW’s national Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index, Social Security is not enough to take care of one’s necessities in retirement. It is also more than 90% of income for 3 in 10 elders, due to a lack of savings in other areas, such as 401(k)s and pensions. Without a more progressive structure that incentivizes workers save for retirement, low and middle-income elders will increasingly depend on Social Security to meet their basic needs. 

Alisha Howell
Communications and Program Coordinator
Elder Economic Security Initiative

Friday, January 14, 2011

Elder Economic Security in 2011

Happy New Year! 2011 brings with it a new era for America – the official retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. This year, an average of 7,000 Boomers a day will celebrate their 65th birthday. Now more than ever it is critical to advocate for the programs and services that allow seniors to age in place.

The Elder Economic Security Initiative (Initiative) has a host of plans to advocate on behalf of our growing senior population this year. First, we are excited to launch the Initiative in Washington and Colorado in the first half of the year. Our additional new states, Iowa, North Carolina and South Dakota, will follow thereafter. Our new state partners have already begun spreading the word about the Initiative. In fact, the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans recently placed an op-ed about the project in the Des Moines Register.

Issue areas the Initiative is focusing on this year include the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, Social Security and health care reform, specifically the implementation of CLASS (the long-term care insurance program) under the Affordable Care Act. Later in the spring, we will host our third annual blog day – a day-long online advocacy event aimed to engage as many people as possible about economic security.

So, stay tuned for this and much more in 2011!