Aging, Social Security & Retirement Issues
“We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family...”
— President Franklin D. Roosevelt upon signing the SS Act in 1935.
The Social Security program ... represents our commitment as a society to the belief that workers should not live in dread that a disability, death, or old age could leave them or their families destitute.
- President Jimmy Carter, December 20, 1977
[This law] assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half century ago ... [The Social Security Amendments of 1983 are] a monument to the spirit of compassion and commitment that unites us as a people.
- President Ronald Reagan, April 20, 1983.
For more information: AAUW Fact Sheets and Position Papers on Affirmative Action, Athletics, Education, Managed Care Reform, Reproductive Rights, and Social Security Reform.
North Country Matters: Aging in Place - Andrea Montgomery, Director of the St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging, discusses some of the considerations needed when planning to age in place for the county’s seniors. With 22,000 seniors, aging in place is often the best solution and the only one, given the shortage of assisted living slots and nursing home beds in St. Lawrence County. But in order for that to work, seniors have to think about the physical space and layout of their existing homes, the availability of transportation and medical care, and if they will need home assistance. The Office of the Aging can help seniors not only to plan for these needs, but make recommendations on how to fill them. With the national senior population expected to double in just 13 years, preparations can not be put off! (Filmed Nov. 3, 2017)
Updated: February 17, 2018
- Medicaid Cuts May Force Retirees Out of Nursing Homes - Under federal law, state Medicaid programs are required to cover nursing home care. But state officials decide how much to pay facilities, and states under budgetary pressure could decrease the amount they are willing to pay or restrict eligibility for coverage. While most Medicaid enrollees are children, pregnant women and nonelderly adults, long-term services such as nursing homes account for 42 percent of all Medicaid spending — even though only 6 percent of Medicaid enrollees use them.
- Executive budget calls for steep cuts to elderly services - As we've been discussing, Governor Cuomo has proposed a variety spending cuts and revenue raisers to close to state's multi-billion dollar deficit. According to LeadingAge New York, the executive budget makes the steepest reductions to services for the elderly, $407 million to be exact. We talked more about this with the group's Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy, Ami Schnauber, earlier in the week.
- Gillibrand Says GOP Paid Family Leave Plan Hurts Social Security - “Our country desperately needs a paid family medical leave plan, but robbing Peter to pay Paul is shortsighted and wrong,” Gillibrand said. “No worker should have to borrow against their own Social Security benefits, which are already too low, to get paid family leave when they need it to take care of a new baby, a sick family member, or themselves. We need to pass a paid leave program that is comprehensive, affordable, gender-neutral, and covers all of life’s unexpected medical events. This bill fails that test. Congress should act now to pass the FAMILY Act, which is an earned benefit that would help all American workers take paid time off through shared responsibility of the employer and employee.”
- Spending Time With Grandparents Makes Kids Less Prone To Ageism, Says Study - Ageism doesn’t benefit anyone but new research shows it may be preventable if we foster positive relationships between our kids and their grandparents. A new study published in the journal Child Development found that children who have good relationships with their grandmas and grandpas are less likely to show bias towards older adults. “The most important factor associated with ageist stereotypes was poor quality of contact with grandparents,” says lead researcher Allison Flamion, a psychology graduate student at the University of Liege, in a press release. “When it came to ageist views, we found that quality of contact mattered much more than frequency.”
- If Immigrants Are Pushed Out, Who Will Care for the Elderly? - One in four of the direct-care workers in the nation’s nursing homes, assisted living facilities and home care agencies are foreign-born, according to an analysis of census data by P.H.I., the New York research organization. Mostly what drives the labor shortage is long-term demographic change. Older people are living longer, most developing chronic diseases and disabilities; the sheer numbers of baby boomers further increases the demand for assistance. But the population of working-age women, who typically provide care both paid and unpaid, has shrunk — and they have more career options than they once did.
- Robert Reich: Protecting Social Security Is Our Next Big Fight - Social Security and Medicare are critical safety-nets for working and middle-class families. Before they existed, Americans faced grim prospects. In 1935, the year Social Security was enacted, roughly half of America’s seniors lived in poverty. By the 1960s poverty among seniors had dropped significantly, but medical costs were still a major financial burden and only half of Americans aged 65 and over had health insurance. Medicare fixed that, guaranteeing health care for older Americans. Today less than 10 percent of seniors live in poverty and almost all have access to health care. According to an analysis of census data, Social Security payments keep an estimated 22 million Americans from slipping into poverty.
- How to Get Compensation When Caring for Aging Parents - Five ways to offset the cost and loss of income. Providing care for a friend or family member is a labor of love for the 40 million people who are coping with that challenge. But taking on caregiving responsibilities can be costly. A 2016 AARP survey found that unpaid caregivers spend an average of almost $7,000 a year on out-of-pocket expenses. But for many people who leave a job to take on caregiving responsibilities, the cost is even higher. An earlier AARP study estimated that missed wages and Social Security benefits totaled $234,000 for male caregivers and $324,000 for women, who are more likely to drop out of the workforce.
- 4 Important Vaccines for Seniors Covered by Medicare - Scientists have proven that cooler temperatures weaken our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness and infection. Additionally, cooler weather toughens the outer shell of viruses, making it easier for them to travel from person to person. The immune system naturally weakens with age, which means winter can be even more dangerous. Here’s a list of four vaccines that Medicare helps pay for and that you should talk with your doctor about to help protect yourself from illness this winter and beyond.
- Care Suffers as More Nursing Homes Feed Money Into Corporate Webs - In what has become an increasingly common business arrangement, owners of nursing homes outsource a wide variety of goods and services to companies in which they have a financial interest or that they control. Nearly three-quarters of nursing homes in the United States — more than 11,000 — have such business dealings, known as related party transactions, according to an analysis of nursing home financial records by Kaiser Health News.
- 8 Changes to Social Security in 2018 - For 2018, the basic structure of Social Security is the same in terms of how workers are taxed and how benefits are calculated and paid. However, there are a few notable changes to be aware of, such as the gradually increasing full retirement age and several thresholds and other Social Security figures that adjust over time with inflation. Here's a rundown of eight 2018 Social Security changes that are set to go into effect.
- Living on Social Security? Here's a Tax Credit Just for You - If you're among the 23% of married retirees or the 43% of single retirees who rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income, then you likely qualify for the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled -- a tax credit that can save you thousands of dollars every year. For that matter, even retirees with other sources of income may qualify for this tax credit. Here's how to find out if you're one of them. The Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled is intended for two different groups of people -- and you've probably already guessed who they are based on the name of the credit. You can qualify for this credit if you're either 65 or older by the end of the year, or you're younger than that and you retired early on permanent and total disability.
- In search of a word that won’t offend ‘old’ people - “Perennials” makes clear that we’re still here, blossoming again and again. It also suggests a new model of life in which people engage and take breaks, making new starts repeatedly. Perennials aren’t guaranteed to blossom year after year, but given proper conditions, good soil and nutrients, they can go on for decades. It’s aspirational.
- In search of a word that won’t offend ‘old’ people - Maureen Conners, a fascinating woman who works in fashion technology, an emerging longevity industry (that is, a business providing the needs of older people, including education, travel and entertainment), uses the word “perennials” to refer to older customers. “Perennials” makes clear that we’re still here, blossoming again and again. It also suggests a new model of life in which people engage and take breaks, making new starts repeatedly. Perennials aren’t guaranteed to blossom year after year, but given proper conditions, good soil and nutrients, they can go on for decades. It’s aspirational.
- Friends might be your best brain booster Superagers study: Social relationships help keep minds healthy - “Social relationships are really important” to this group and might play a significant role in preserving their cognition, Rogalski said.
- Waiting too long to use hospice care can make suffering at end-of-life worse - Many people who are near the end of life wait too long to enter hospice care, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. People who put off hospice care might spend months in and out of hospitals, with their families struggling to attend to them. “At some point, patients and their families and doctors realize that hospice is appropriate, but that happens perhaps later than it should,” says study author Thomas Michael Gill, a professor of medicine, epidemiology and investigative medicine, and the Humana Foundation professor of geriatric medicine at Yale University. “When folks are referred to hospice only in the last days of their life, it’s difficult to have a meaningful benefit.”
- A German nursing home tries a novel form of dementia therapy: re-creating a vanished era for its patients - Wolfram and his team of nurses soon noticed changes among patients who spent their days in an environment modeled after the Germany they had once known. They began to drink more water and eat more, and could suddenly go to the toilet again by themselves. “They showed abilities they did not show at all prior to that,” Wolfram said.
- ‘I hope I can quit working in a few years’: A preview of the U.S. without pensions - In place of pensions, companies and investment advisers urge employees to open retirement accounts. The basic idea is that workers will manage their own retirement funds, sometimes with a little help from their employers, sometimes not. Once they reach retirement age, those accounts are supposed to supplement whatever Social Security might pay. (Today, Social Security provides only enough for a bare-bones budget, about $14,000 a year on average.) The trouble with expecting workers to save on their own is that almost half of U.S. families have no such retirement account, according the Fed’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances.
- 'Safe' levels? Small amounts of air pollution linked to more death for senior citizens: Study - Elderly people have a higher risk of dying after short-term exposure to particulate air pollution and ozone, according to a new study from Harvard.
- How Care for Elders, Not Children, Denies Women a Paycheck - Caring for children is, to be sure, a formidable barrier to women’s work. In developed countries where parental leave is guaranteed by law and governments ensure free child care, women work at a much higher rate than in the United States. Still, the consensus is incomplete. It misses perhaps the most significant impediment to women’s continued engagement in the labor market, one that is getting tougher with each passing year: aging. Focused laserlike on child care, we haven’t noticed that the United States is walking into an elder-care crisis.
- New York Designated the First Age-Friendly State in the Nation by AARP and the World Health Organization - Efforts to become an age-friendly state are supported by the Governor's new Health Across All Policies initiative, announced in the 2017 State of the State, to incorporate health and healthy aging into State Agency decision making. This approach utilizes the goals of the New York State Department of Health's Prevention Agenda, the blueprint to improve the health of all New Yorkers in five priority areas and reduce health disparities.
- The Crisis Ahead: The U.S. Is No Country for Older Men and Women - Millions can no longer afford to retire, and may never be able when the GOP passes its tax bill. Traditional defined-benefit pensions were once a mainstay of American labor, especially among unionized workers. But according to Pew Charitable Trusts, only 13 percent of Baby Boomers still have them (among millennials, the number falls to 6 percent). In recent decades, 401(k) plans have become much more prominent, yet a majority of American workers don’t have them either.
- The other big drug problem: Older people taking too many pills - For decades, experts have warned that older Americans are taking too many unnecessary drugs, often prescribed by multiple doctors, for dubious or unknown reasons. Researchers estimate that 25 percent of people ages 65 to 69 take at least five prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions, a figure that jumps to nearly 46 percent for those between 70 and 79. Doctors say it is not uncommon to encounter patients taking more than 20 drugs to treat acid reflux, heart disease, depression or insomnia or other disorders.
- AARP seeks tax credit for caregivers - AARP New York is calling on the state to offer more non-medical assistance to seniors. Representatives from the group spoke at an Assembly hearing on elder care, and made a push for a caregiving tax credit to help families afford in-home services. And they're asking for increased funding for things like meal delivery services and transportation programs.
- New estimate says 46 million Americans headed to Alzheimer’s - Close to 50 million Americans could be in the early stages leading to Alzheimer’s disease right now, according to a new forecast. And 6 million people likely have it now, the team at the University of California Los Angeles calculated. The forecast is based on a lot of supposition as well as some hard data, but it’s the best estimate of how badly Alzheimer’s will affect the country in the coming years, said Keith Fargo of the Alzheimer’s Association, who was not involved in the research.
- Ryan says Republicans to target welfare, Medicare, Medicaid spending in 2018 - “We're going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said during an appearance on Ross Kaminsky's talk radio show. "... Frankly, it's the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that's really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”
- The cost of caregiving: ‘A sacrifice for our entire family’ - About 17 percent of adult children take care of their parents at some point in their lives, according to a report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Once they become caregivers, adult children are likely to commit a substantial amount of time — about 77 hours on average each month — to looking after their relatives, the researchers found. For people who provide round-the-clock care, the commitment is even greater. Caregivers often need to make life-altering decisions about where to live and whether to continue to work. Many caregivers take on the full-time role without pay. But even people who are paid for the care they provide for a relative may face long-term financial challenges, caregiving experts say.
- Rising Medicare costs leave many U.S. seniors with a flat COLA - The federal government announced last Friday that the standard Part B premium will be $134 per month next year, unchanged from 2017. That sounds like good news at first blush. But for roughly 70 percent of seniors, Social Security benefit amounts will stay flat due to the relationship between the premium and the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.
- For seniors, cohousing a cozier alternative to downsizing - Cohousing bolsters sharing — a lawnmower, tools or an on-site laundromat, as well as guest quarters for out-of-town visitors. Homes are private, clustered near a common space where homeowners meet regularly to share meals and build community. Of the nation’s 168 cohousing communities, almost all are intergenerational. But now, as increasing numbers of aging adults eschew the idea of institutional living, cohousing has become an attractive option. In 2010, no U.S. cohousing communities were geared toward seniors. PDX Commons is now the nation’s 13th such community for the 55-and-older demographic. Two more are under construction and 13 others are in the early stages.
- 10,000 people died in the past year while stuck in a backlog of judges’ disability cases. - In the past two years, 18,701 people have died while waiting for a judge’s decision, increasing 15 percent from 8,699 deaths in fiscal 2016 to 10,002 deaths in fiscal 2017, according to preliminary federal data obtained by The Washington Post. The rising death toll coincides with a surge in the length of time people must wait for a disposition, which swelled from a national average of 353 days in 2012 to a record high of 596 this past summer. The simplest explanation is that there isn’t enough money. The Social Security Administration’s budget has been roughly stagnant since 2010, while the number of people receiving retirement and disability benefits has risen by more than 7 million, despite a slight decline in the disability rolls beginning in 2015 as some beneficiaries reached retirement age.
- Falls are the most common cause of injury for seniors. Exercise can help. - Government guidelines suggest adults over 65 should get at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week (brisk walking, for example) and do muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups twice a week.
- As Alzheimer's Numbers Soar, New Poll Focuses On Caregivers - A new study suggests that caregivers need and want to access support resources and that perhaps the experience of caregiving has made them consider the possibility of their own future needs. And there is no doubt that the current number and expected increase in the foreseeable future of individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease will necessitate it.
- Signs a Senior Needs Help at Home - Admitting the need for help and accepting assistance is not easy for people as they age. The responsibility often falls on family members to recognize the signs that an aging loved one might need support with completing daily living tasks. How do you know if it is time for in-home care? Look for the red flags listed below.
If these signs are present, it doesn’t necessarily mean a move to assisted living or a nursing home is required. However, these red flags do indicate that daily supportive care is needed. Use the guide below as a starting point in the process of hiring home care to help you make informed and confident decisions.
- Changes in Physical Function and Mental Status
- Changes in Personal Hygiene
- Neglecting Household Responsibilities
- Americans Are Retiring Later, Dying Sooner and Sicker In-Between - Americans in their late 50s already have more serious health problems than people at the same ages did 10 to 15 years ago, according to the journal Health Affairs. At the current retirement age of 66, a quarter of Americans age 58 to 60 rated themselves in “poor” or “fair” health. That’s up 2.6 points from the group who could retire with full benefits at 65, the Michigan researchers found. While death rates can be volatile from year to year, Choi and Schoeni’s study is part of a raft of other research showing the health of Americans deteriorating.
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