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Living Below the Line: Elder Economic Insecurity in Georgia

The Elder Economic Security Standard: The Elder Index.

The Elder Index defines security as the income seniors need to cover basic and necessary living expenses – housing, food, transportation, health care and miscellaneous household items – without public assistance, loans, or gifts. The Elder Index includes no income or savings for home or car repairs, long-term services and supports, or even entertainment money to see a movie with a grandchild.

53% of older adults living alone in Georgia are likely to have trouble making ends meet each month.

Georgia’s 2016 Elder Economic Insecurity Rate (EEIR) – the percentage of retired seniors living in their own homes whose incomes fall below the local Elder Economic Security Standard Index – suggests that 53% of seniors living alone lack the incomes they will need to remain retired, makes ends meet, and age in their own homes.

The report goes on to state that the Georgia statewide Elder Index for renters is $21,552 for one senior and $31,908 for two seniors in one household. In contract, the 2016 federal poverty guideline is just $11,880 for one person and $16,020 for two people. In Georgia, 22% of single seniors live below the poverty line,and another 31% live in what is called the “economic security gap”; which is described as the gap between poverty and the Elder Index. In the United States, 18.8% of single seniors living alone are poor, and another 34.2% live in the economic security gap. While these older adults living in the gap avoid official poverty, their incomes do not qualify for public assistance programs that would allow them to avoid hardship and age in their own homes.

While deceasing poverty is critical, there are also older adults who are one bad break away from poverty.  As the state’s senior population grows, state and local government must recognize the economic security gap, recognize those who fall into it, and deliberately consider policy impacts on senior economic security.

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