American Seniors Living Longer on Less

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Tim Rusch, Demos, (212) 389-1407, trusch@demos.org

American Seniors Living Longer on Less

3 out of 4 senior households lack the economic security needed to sustain them through their lives, according to new study.

NEW YORK - Older Americans have experienced
huge, negative financial shifts that now make it more difficult to enter
retirement with sustainable economic security, a new study finds.  Seventy-eight percent of all senior
households are financially vulnerable when it comes to their ability to meet
essential expenses and cover projected costs over their lifetimes.

This is according to the Senior Economic
Security Index (SESI), a new research project developed by The Institute on
Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University and Demos, a national public
policy and research organization. 
Single households, African-American households, and Latino households are
the most likely groups of seniors to be financially
vulnerable.

These sobering stats serve as a wakeup call for
younger and middle-aged Americans. 
Though they are
financially vulnerable, today's seniors represent a best-case scenario of having
reached retirement under stronger Social Security, better employer-based
benefits, and greater opportunities to avoid debt and build assets than future
generations will experience. 

Particular areas of vulnerability
include:

Housing

45% of senior households spend nearly a third
of their income on housing. 31% either rent or have no home equity to draw on in
tough times

Healthcare

40% of senior households spend more than 15% of
their income on healthcare.

Budgets

1
in 3 senior households has no money whatsoever left over after meeting essential expenses.

Assets

More than half of all senior households (54
percent) do not have sufficient financial resources to meet median projected
expenses based on their current financial net worth, projected Social Security,
and pension incomes.

 "Even in their current precarious state,
it is important to note that today's seniors are better prepared for retirement
than subsequent generations will be,"
said Tatjana Meschede, lead author of Living Longer on Less:  The New Economic (In)Security of
Seniors, a just-published
report on the SESI. "They have benefited from pensions, jobs with significant
retirement benefits, and a stronger social safety net than subsequent
generations will enjoy."

Left unchanged, the current decline in
employer-based retirement savings, the weakening of Social Security and
Medicare, and rising debt experienced by younger Americans will add up to even
greater vulnerability as they retire, the report shows.

"Younger generations, who face historically low
savings rates, declining assets and an unsure future for their retirement
accounts and Social Security itself, must urge our policy leaders to take action
to strengthen the security of today's seniors and to ensure their own," noted
Jennifer Wheary, a co-author of Living
Longer on Less
.

The authors of Living Longer on Less call on
our policy makers in Congress and in the Obama administration to take action to
strengthen the security of today's seniors and to ensure that younger
generations will experience long-term economic stability through their senior
years.  Such actions
include:

  • Strengthening Social
    Security.
  • Increasing Asset
    Building Opportunities.
  • Supporting
    Flexibility to Allow Americans to Work Longer and More
    Productively
  • Addressing The
    Medicare Crisis
  • Instituting
    Long-Term Care Insurance

For more information and to download the
report, Senior Economic Security Index factsheet and household economic security
scorecard, visit iasp.brandeis.edu and
demos.org.

 

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