The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Susan Chaityn Lebovits,,(781)736-4027  

Lauren Strayer,, (212) 389-1413

Budget Stalemate Puts Seniors Futures at Risk

New Report Shows If Social Security Stops, Seniors Will Face Even More Economic Pain


Recent comments made by President Obama about the threat of budget negotiations stalling crucial social security payments have highlighted the growing pain felt by America's seniors. A new report "From Bad to Worse: Senior Economic Insecurity On the Rise," from the Institute on Assets and Social Policy and national policy center Demos, underscores how seniors have too few resources and too little time to plan for a fulfilling retirement.

"From Bad to Worse" finds that in only four years, the number of seniors at risk of outliving their resources increased by nearly 2 million households, beginning even before the great recession.

This report outlines the painful factors contributing to 36 percent of all senior households finding themselves with no buffer against financial ruin should they be faced with an unexpected illness or other traumatic life event. Lack of assets, rising housing costs and fixed budgets are the major drivers of the increased economic insecurity.

Over one third of all seniors in America are "economically insecure," the report finds. They are uncertain whether they will have enough funds to purchase medication, feed themselves, and pay heating and electricity bills. In the hardest hit senior populations in America, households of color and senior single women, 50 percent of seniors are in this "economically insecure" category, unsure of how to afford even the most basic necessities.

The report proposes real solutions to fix this growing crisis:

--Strengthen Social Security for vulnerable groups, such as low-income earners and those with sporadic attachment to the labor market due to caregiving and other responsibilities.

--Support a strong Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program (CLASS Act) to enable working adults the opportunity to plan for future long-term care needs, such as in-home services, adult day health or institutional care.

"It's simply a crime that in our wealthy and vibrant nation 36 percent of seniors live in a state of uncertainty -- unsure of whether they can afford basic necessities. Instead of working to fix this crisis, the debate in Washington is dominated by those who argue that the only way to reduce the deficit is by dramatically altering Medicare and Social Security," said Tatjana Meschede, Research Director at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy and co-author of the report. "These reckless proposals will only worsen current trends and further undermine the economic prospects of future seniors."

"Millions of seniors in America live day to day, this is a multigenerational problem, not a 'senior problem,'" said Jennifer Wheary, Demos Senior Fellow. "We cannot end senior economic insecurity without addressing the early sources of this grave problem. We must take steps to strengthen pension provisions to ensure the stability of employer and employee investments, if we want to ensure millions retire with the funds they need and deserve."

Read The Report:

"From Bad to Worse" is the newest analysis in the Demos-IASP series entitled "Living Longer on Less." For more information see the contact information above.

Demos is a think tank that powers the movement for a just, inclusive, multiracial democracy. Through cutting-edge policy research, inspiring litigation, and deep relationships with grassroots organizations, Demos champions solutions that will create a democracy and economy rooted in racial equity.