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Older Minorities Are Becoming America's Poorest Residents

Older Minorities Are Becoming America's Poorest Residents

Source: AARP Bulletin Today | July 31, 2008 



Older Hispanics and African Americans are among the nation's poorest residents, according to a study released yesterday by the AARP Public Policy Institute.

The study reported that among people 65 and up, one in five Hispanics and almost one in four black Americans were living in poverty in 2006. Overall, one in 10 older people were reported as living at or below the poverty line. Like minorities, older women are not faring well. Nearly 12 percent of women age 65 and up lived in poverty in 2006, according to the report, which was

conducted for the AARP Foundation and released at its symposium on poverty and aging.

Little or no retirement income, unemployment, disability and poor health were cited as the major causes of older adults living in poverty. But the findings could be worse, the report said. If not for Social Security, the poverty rate for those 65 and older would have skyrocketed from 9 percent to 45 percent in 2006.

Nationwide, an estimated 37 million people live below the poverty line.

Attending the symposium was former Sen. John Edwards, chair of the Half in Ten antipoverty campaign, who said Americans deserve better. There are too many men and women who sit at their kitchen tables and reach the quiet conclusion that they will lose their home, he said. There are too many families sitting in our emergency rooms begging for health care.  There are too many of our veterans sleeping under bridges and on grates.

If you believe in the kind of America where everybody has equal chances and equal opportunities to do great things, we have a lot of Americans who don't have those chances today millions of them. This struggle is to try to make those opportunities available.

Edwards Half in Ten campaign, which aims to cut poverty by 50 percent within a decade, was formed earlier this year by a coalition of groups. It supports expanding tax credits, raising state and federal minimum wages, preventing predatory lending practices and increasing the eligibility for unemployment insurance to help lift people out of poverty.

Robin Talbert, president of the AARP Foundation, said the symposium was held so that Edwards and other experts could collaborate on ways to improve the quality of life for older persons living in poverty, or who are at high risk of falling into poverty.

Other highlights of the PPI report include:

• Women head up nearly seven of 10 older families living below the poverty line.

• About 25 percent of people age 50 to 64 who live in poverty work; nearly 63 percent have health insurance.

• The median net worth of people 50 and older living in poverty is $10,000.

• The cost of a doctor¹s visit prevented nearly 25 percent of people 50 and older living in poverty from seeing a physician in the last 12 months.

• Social Security Disability Insurance helps only about one in 10 people age 50 and up who say a disability has hampered their efforts to work.


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