Elderly Poverty and Disability Benefits

Published on: November 16, 2020

The Golden Years are supposed to be full of relaxation and comfortable-living after years of hard work. However, this idea is not always a reality for many seniors. 

Whether due to low-wage jobs, poor health conditions, improper planning, or a dozen other reasons, thousands of seniors find their Golden Years to be anything but relaxing. 

In 2017, 4.7 million people aged 65 and older lived in poverty. While elderly poverty among Americans aged 65 and older has declined by almost 70% in the past five decades, this is still a major social issue. For seniors in need, there are organizations and resources out there that can ensure their later years are not full of hardship. Social Security benefits have played a critical role in enhancing economic security and reducing elderly poverty rates among those aged 65 years and older. Find out more about disability benefits for the elderly and how they can help provide security and stability. 

Seniors and Poverty: How Big Of An Issue?

Historically, elderly poverty has been a major social issue for the United States. According to a Congressional research report, while the elderly poverty for Americans aged 65 years and older has been higher than the rates for younger groups for much of American history, seniors have faced lower poverty rates than children under 18 since 1974 and even lower rates than adults between 18 to 64 since the 1990s. About 12.3 % of the population, or about 39.7 million people, were considered to be living in poverty in 2017. Out of this number, the 9.2% elderly poverty rate for Americans aged over 65 years old was lower than the 17.5% poverty rate for children under 18 and the 11.2% poverty rate for adults aged between 18 to 64. 

However, for those seniors in poverty, struggling to find enough food and make payments, especially with medical conditions and disabilities, can bring extreme hardship into their lives. 

What Is Considered Low-Income For Seniors 

The U.S. Census Bureau uses two methods to measure poverty: the official poverty measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). In 2017, the threshold for poverty under the official measure was $11,756 for Americans aged 65 years and older. 

Low-income seniors are not necessarily considered impoverished, however. According to the Federal government guidelines, an individual over the age of 60 and who has an income of less than $30,000 a year is considered a low-income senior. Nearly 40% of seniors at least 60 years old are believed to be either low to modern income. 

How Can Disability Benefits Help

Social Security benefits have played a vital role in propelling thousands of seniors out of poverty since it was first established. Some reports have even claimed that, without Social Security benefits, more than 37% of seniors would have incomes below the official poverty line. 

The importance of Social Security to many older Americans is substantial; without Social Security benefits, including disability benefits, many older Americans would be left without resources to pay for medical spending, food, and other necessities of life. For instance, Supplemental Security Income is designed to provide disability benefits for adults who are blind or have disabilities and little to no income.  To apply, SSI applicants must have limited funds and resources to qualify for SSI payments. To demonstrate that you meet the SSA’s requirements, you’ll need to supply them with financial documentation, such as:

  • Proof of income (payroll stubs, tax returns, etc.).
  • Bank statements.
  • Life/disability insurance policies.
  • Certificates of deposit, stocks, and other investment records, and much more. 

In 2020, a person must have less than $803 a month in unearned income to receive SSI benefits, while a couple can get SSI if they have an unearned income of less than $1,195 a month. 

On the other hand, Social Security disability insurance provides help for adults and seniors who are physically restricted and unable to be employed as a result. Income does not play a factor in SSDI eligibility, unlike SSI disability benefits; instead, SSDI rests on your accumulated payment of Social Security taxes.  

Social Security Resources For Seniors

There are numerous organizations and resources out there for seniors looking for economic stability and help with applying for disability benefits. 

National Council on Aging (NCOA)

The NCOA has numerous programs and resources for seniors looking to plan for economic security and stability. 

Economic Security Initiative

NCOA’s Economic Security Initiative offers programs in 20 communities to help seniors build a life of economic stability. 

Center for Benefits Access

NCOA’s Center for Benefits Access helps community-based organizations find and enroll both seniors and younger adults with disabilities and limited incomes for benefits that they would be eligible for. 

Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)

NCOA manages nearly thirty Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) offices to help senior adults return to or remain active in the workforce by providing job training, job search services, and on-the-job experience.

Disability Experts of Florida

DEF offers plenty of resources, whether on disability benefits for the elderly, Social Security after retirement, and much more! Check out some of our blogs and resources below:

Do you have any additional questions on disability assistance, or would like advice on how to apply for these disability resources and services? Don’t hesitate to contact the team at DEF today! Our compassionate disability advocates will be happy to help answer your questions anytime.

Disability Benefits After Retirement in Florida

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