November 2010, Week 3


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Sat, 20 Nov 2010 15:04:48 -0500
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Social Security: Barrier To Poverty, Crucial for Minorities & Women

November 16, 2010



A new report released today from the AARP Public
Policy Institute finds that under the experimental
poverty measure, older Americans have the highest rates
of poverty among three key age groups. The current
official poverty measure, based on consumption patterns
from the 1950s, does not take into account the higher
health care expenditures of older Americans in poverty,
which according to the AARP report is one reason the
official measure understates the number of people over
65 who are living in poverty.

For the past decade, the U.S. Census Bureau has
published estimates of an experimental poverty measure
that reflects more modern needs and living standards.
The AARP report finds that under this measure, the
poverty rate in 2008 for persons aged 65 or older is
18.7 percent, nearly twice that of the official
measure. The report also found that, between 2001 and
2008, among the three age groups examined (older
adults, younger adults and children), older adults had
the lowest official poverty rate but the highest
experimental rate.

"This analysis suggests that the current official
poverty measure is leaving nearly half the older people
who are living in poverty out of the equation," said
AARP Executive Vice President John Rother. "Leaders in
the non-profit community and in local, state and
federal government must explore this disparity to
ensure that we are accounting for people who fall
outside the official poverty measure but are very
likely struggling to make ends meet."

Key report findings include:

- In 2008, persons aged 65+ were 12.5 percent of the
total population. Under the official poverty measure,
the older poor were 9.1 percent of the total poor
population, but under the experimental poverty measure,
the older poor were 15.1 percent. Rates also were
higher under the experimental rate for many subgroups
of older persons.

- Under the experimental measure, 22.7 percent of
persons aged 80+ were in poverty, the highest rate of
all age groups

- 21.6 percent of older women and 15 percent of older
men were in poverty under the experimental measure,
compared to 11.9 percent of women and 6.7 percent of
men under the official measure.

- 28.8 percent of older African Americans and 31.5
percent of older Hispanics were in poverty under the
experimental measure, compared with 20 percent and 19.3
percent, respectively, under the official measure.

- 25.3 percent of older Asians and others were in
poverty. The 12.9 percentage point increase in the
experimental poverty relative to the official rate for
Asians and others was the largest of any group
examined, indicating that a large percentage of older
Asian Americans live just above the official poverty
line but close to it.

- The experimental poverty rate was 27.5 percent for
older persons living alone, 13.1 percentage points
higher than for older persons living with others.

"Older Americans living at, below or near the poverty
line are some of America's most vulnerable and are
faced daily with lots of tough choices in their
everyday budgets and lives," said AARP Foundation
President Jo Ann Jenkins. "Providing for their basic
needs is something that we must focus on, and as the
report suggests, something that is likely going to be a
larger challenge in the coming years."

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan social welfare
organization with a membership that helps people 50+
have independence, choice and control in ways that are
beneficial and affordable to them and society as a
whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public
office or make contributions to either political
campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine,
the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's
largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million
readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for
AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP
VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated
exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our
website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated
charity that provides security, protection, and
empowerment to older persons in need with support from
thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have
staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of
Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


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