Center for American Progress

RELEASE: A Policy Framework to Help Seniors Facing Economic Hardship
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — With 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day, the Center for American Progress outlines a series of policy recommendations to help the rising share of older Americans facing economic insecurity. More than 4 in 10 seniors today are living on the economic brink, and future generations are at an even greater risk. In a new report, CAP reviews recent data and research on economic insecurity among the elderly and near elderly; explores why some statistics, particularly the official poverty measure, understate hardship among seniors; looks ahead to future trends in poverty and hardship among older Americans; and offers policy recommendations to ensure dignity and security for all in old age.

Among other recommendations, the report calls for expanding Social Security—particularly for those at the bottom of the income ladder—and modernizing Supplemental Security Income.

“Despite the successes of America’s safety net, including Social Security, several important programs have grown weaker over time or have failed to keep pace with a changing labor market and families,” said Rebecca Vallas, Managing Director of CAP’s Poverty to Prosperity Program. “These policies must be strengthened to counteract the rising economic vulnerability for America’s seniors, not just for those currently in old age but also for generations to come.”

The report also looks at the groups of older Americans who are disproportionately likely to face poverty: women, African American, and Latinos. Elevated rates of poverty and hardship among elderly women are driven in large part by a lifetime of inequities in income and employment, assets and savings, and health and longevity. African Americans and Latinos tend to face entrenched inequities in wealth, income, and employment throughout their lifetime, which can translate into economic hardship in old age.

Additionally the report addresses how economic insecurity affects seniors’ access to housing, food, and health care, as well as the erosion of traditional retirement plans for those generations still in the workforce.

CAP outlines a set of policy solutions to ensure dignity and security for current and future generations of older Americans:

  • Expand Social Security
  • Modernize Supplemental Security Income
  • Boost nutrition aid
  • Strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC
  • Reduce Medicare costs and rein in skyrocketing drug prices
  • Boost retirement security through tax and savings policies
  • Ensure access to long-term care
  • Expand access to affordable, accessible housing

Read the full report, “Toward a Dignified Retirement for All,” by Jackie Odum, Eliza Schultz, Rebecca Vallas, and Christian Weller here. It is being released in conjunction with a forum on seniors and economic security hosted by Justice in Aging.

Related resources:

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Liz Bartolomeo at [email protected] or 202.481.8151.