Seniors, Poverty and Retirement: What Are Your Odds?

By: Jody Smith

Seniors in poverty face some bleak odds. Going out to get a job, any job at all, can be impossible for many. Health issues can limit seniors' financial ability to care for themselves. And medical expenses can eat up the finances of seniors at a spectacular pace.

It may be tempting and perhaps falsely reassuring to assume that any senior citizen in poverty landed there because of their own bad planning or wanton lifestyle. But while that may certainly be true about some, it is assuredly not the case for all.

According to a Feb. 15, 2011 article on Msn.com, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security were instituted by the federal government four decades ago, to protect seniors from poverty. Subsequently, significant improvement occurred in the lives of the average senior citizen. But these three programs are less secure than they ever were in the last forty years, as the federal government has begun to speculate about cutting back on provision for the elderly.

Illness that requires extensive medical care can empty the coffers for a senior whose medical coverage is insufficient. Investments can go south, depleting retirement savings. Loss of a job can yank an essential element out of the retirement equation. Unruly mortgages and variable interest rates can leave seniors literally unable to keep a roof over their heads. The housing market was a wild stallion that left many dazed and no longer homeowners.

Nobody wants to concede that it is possible for a senior to have worked and saved with conscientious dedication all their adult lives and nevertheless end up losing it all. But the truth is it can. It's not only seniors who didn't bother to plan or save who can end up with the short end of the stick upon retirement. This can also happen to seniors who have tried to plan, but their plans were flawed, interest rates changed, investments brought smaller returns.

Unscrupulous financial advisors gutted the retirements and dreams for many, old and young. For the young, at least there is the solace that time is on their side, and they can make up their losses. Seniors are faced with a smaller set of options, and less time to get the boat upright once more.

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 3.8 percent - 14.3 percent of households became shaky in terms of retirement capability during the recession. Damage levels were affected by the age of the homeowner, as well as by the types of investments the homeowner held, such as IRAs and 401(k)s. A Feb. 7, 2011 article on USNews.com reported that Baby Boomers born from 1948 - 1954 were found in 2010 to have a 47.2 percent risk of having inadequate resources for retirement. Baby Boomers born from 1955 - 1964 were seen to have a risk of 43.7 percent.

Jody Smith is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.

Sources:

Elderly Poverty

http://www.nursing-home-abuse.org/elderly-poverty.html

Seniors 'near poverty' are at risk in deficit cuts

http://money.msn.com/saving-money-tips/post.aspx?post=246dbaed-249c-4064-9995-aa33fb17881c

How to Put Your Retirement Back on Track

http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-best-life/2011/02/07/how-to-put-your-retirement-back-on-track

Related Links:

Poverty During the Holidays: How to Get Help so That This Season is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – For Everyone

http://www.empowher.com/emotional-health/content/poverty-during-holidays-how-get-help-so-season-most-wonderful-time-year-eve

Avoid the Poverty Mentality

http://www.empowher.com/emotional-health/content/avoid-poverty-mentality

Twenty Percent of American Children Live in Poverty

http://www.empowher.com/wellness/content/twenty-percent-american-children-live-poverty

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