29 Jan Elders Need More than Social Security to Live in the Community
How much do elders need to live in the community? How many people can afford to live independently without the help of government supports? In what parts of the country do large numbers of elders need help?
These are some of the questions researchers at UMass Boston wanted to know the answers to. So six years ago, in collaboration with Wider Opportunities for Women, they started calculating, on a geographically specific basis, the costs of housing, food, health care, and transportation which elders experience. The calculations were first done for individual states but last year a national Elder Index was calculated covering the whole country. Click here to view the report.
Nationally, single individuals need between $19,104 to $28,860/year depending on whether they rent or own their own home and if their health status is poor or excellent. Couples need between $29,448 and $39,204/year. The assumptions built into the calculation are that the individual is living modestly, has Medicare, has a supplemental health plan, and has no long-term care expenses. However, the report also found that costs vary dramatically around the country. For example, state-wide housing costs for an elder homeowner without a mortgage in West Virginia was $260/m compared to an elder homeowner with a mortgage in New Jersey with a state-wide cost of $1,871/m. When these costs are compared to average Social Security benefits in the same geographic area, we can see that some areas have high costs and higher average Social Security benefits while other areas have high costs but lower average benefits. The maps in the report show us where the discrepancy between income and costs are the greatest and therefore where elders will need the most help.
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