Report: Almost 6 in 10 New York Seniors Struggling to Pay for Basic Needs, Condition Worsening
Majority of elderly women living in worsening economic situation as high rents and utility costs consume most of their income
November 24, 2015
ALBANY, NEW YORK – A new report by two leading advocacy groups working on women and elderly issues shows that as many as 80% of single elderly women living alone are struggling to pay for their basic needs and overall almost 6 in 10 senior citizens are under economic distress. The data was made public during a NYS Assembly multi-committee hearing to examine rising poverty rates for senior citizens. The report, released by the NY Statewide Senior Action Council and Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) finds that New York seniors face an array of economic security challenges—rising food, health care and housing costs, long-term care needs, a soft labor market and others. To better capture and understand the challenges faced by New York’s seniors, their families, and state and local governments, StateWide and WOW have calculated the Elder Economic Insecurity Rates (EEIRs) —the proportion of fully retired seniors whose incomes fall short of the Elder Economic Security Standard (EESS) index, a measure of the income retired adults require to meet basic monthly expenses and age in place in their communities. The EESS Index defines economic security as monthly or annual income needed to meet these basic expenses without borrowing, relying on gifts from family and friends, or relying on public assistance programs. According to Maria Alvarez, Executive Director of New York Statewide Senior Council, Inc., "The results of this report highlight the importance of not only preserving, but strengthening the safety net programs which keep older New Yorkers living in their homes and communities. When our elder's incomes are not adjusted to the cost of living, the realities can be very dire. With baby boomers joining the rank of the older population, social services, community supports, and economic programs become even more important for the strength and stability of the community in general. Programs under the NYS Elder Law and the Older Americans Act - nutrition, transportation, senior housing, employment, counseling, and elder abuse prevention, to name a few - become indispensable in ensuring that those who contributed to the prosperity of this state and country continue to thrive. The statewide EEIR for NYS senior households is 58%. More than half of New York households comprised of either one or two retired seniors lack the incomes that would provide economic security and insulate them against poverty as they age. Major findings of the report indicate:
- New York elders who live alone are much more likely than elder couples to live in insecurity. The EEIR is 67% for single elder households and 39% for elder couple households.
- EEIRs are highest for elder renters. More than 80% of New York elder renter households live in insecurity; 54% of elder homeowners with mortgages and 41% of elder homeowners without mortgages live in insecurity.
- Elder women experience high insecurity rates. Fifty-eight percent of New York’s senior women lack security incomes. Seventy percent of single elder women and 58% of single elder men living alone lack security incomes.
- EEIRs are high in every area of New York. The overall insecurity rate is highest, at 77%, in the Bronx and Kings County (Brooklyn) and lowest in Seneca County (39%).
- Among retired elder households, 86% of Hispanic-headed households, 81% of Asian-headed households, and 60% of African-American-headed households lack incomes that allow basic economic security