Clear all

542 results found

reorder grid_view

What Are the Implications of Rising Debt for Older Americans?

September 26, 2023

The share of older Americans with debt has been on the rise over the last several decades. Having debt, however, does not always signal financial fragility because debt can be used for various purposes. For example, households that take out a low-interest mortgage to buy a home, which typically appreciates in value, are likely making a savvy choice. In contrast, households that carry unpaid credit card balances could see their debt snowball, leading to financial distress. Identifying these distinctions in household debt situations is crucial to understanding the implications of the rise in debt holding among seniors.  This brief, based on a new paper, addresses three key questions: 1) As more older households carry debt in retirement, what share are at "high-risk" and "low-risk" of financial hardship? 2) Is the growth in debt holding driven by the high- or low-risk households? and 3) What are the different types of high-risk households?The answers will help policymakers determine which types of borrowers are most vulnerable and develop tailored solutions for assisting them.   The discussion proceeds as follows. The first section provides background on trends in debt holding among older Americans. The second section sorts households into high-risk and low-risk based on their debt and asset profiles, and it shows that high-risk borrowers are driving the growth in debt. The third section identifies four groups of high-risk borrowers with very different characteristics. Given the diverse situations of high-risk borrowers, the fourth section suggests some potential ways to address each group's specific needs. The final section concludes that the debt burdens of high-risk borrowers are cause for concern, but a one-size-fits-all solution does not exist, so targeted interventions would be most effective.  Click "Download" to access this resource.

Virginia Philanthropy’s Response to the Challenges Facing Older Adults

August 26, 2023

This report report highlights the need for philanthropic resources to support the growing population of older adults. Using a field scan survey of 24 funders, the report analyzes current work being done in philanthropy to address challenges faced by older Virginians and identifies where investments are needed to ensure older adults are able to age in place.

Health Care Provider Survey Findings:  Addressing Food Insecurity Among Older Adults —  Health Care Provider Beliefs, Practices, and Resources

July 20, 2023

The Food Research & Action Center and AARP Foundation collaborated with Dr. Rachel Zimmer of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and Dr. Kimberly Montez, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and conducted a survey to learn more about current efforts and promising opportunities for doctors, nurses, and other health care providers to address food insecurity among their patients 50 years of age and older. This report summarizes the findings of the survey responses from 144 health care providers. It also provides recommendations to enhance efforts by health care providers to address food insecurity informed by the survey findings.

Out of Reach: How Gaps in Medicare Coverage of Substance Use Disorder Care Harm Beneficiaries

June 23, 2023

Retirement should mark an exciting new chapter, not a health care nightmare! More than 4.3 million adults 65+ have a substance use disorder, but very few receive treatment through Medicare. As leaders of the Medicare Addiction Parity Project, Legal Action Center developed an issue brief that includes stories from beneficiaries who have struggled to get the lifesaving addiction treatment they need and recommendations for how to close these dangerous gaps in Medicare coverage.In 2022, RRF Foundation for Aging awarded a two-year grant to Legal Action Center of the City of New York. Inc. in support of advocacy efforts to bring parity in healthcare coverage for older adults on Medicare experiencing substance use disorders.Click "Download" to access this resource.

Social Insurance during the Pandemic: Successes, Shortcomings, and Policy Options for the Future

June 1, 2023

In June, 2023, the National Academy of Social Insurance (the Academy) published the report, Social Insurance during the Pandemic: Successes, Failures, and Policy Options for the Future. The report describes and evaluates the ways in which our nation's social insurance system performed during the pandemic, highlights the successes and shortcomings, and provides lessons that can be applied in anticipation of future crises.The good news is that the study found that the U.S. social insurance system, including programs like Social Security and Medicare, performed well during the pandemic. The significant drop in economic activity during the crisis did not undercut the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds as had been feared. However, the pandemic did result in reductions in the number of people who received important benefits such as Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance due to the closing of Social Security field offices and employees' transition to remote work. The pandemic also exacerbated inequalities across race and ethnicity and took a disproportionate toll on the lives of older people, particularly those residing in nursing homes. This comprehensive report provides 44 policy options that fall into three categories: options that would make permanent or automatically trigger new programs established during the pandemic such as automatic increases in the federal share of Medicaid spending and lowering administrative burdens for programs like Supplemental Security Income and SNAP during economic downturns; new policies where the pandemic uncovered a need for improvements such as closing the digital divide; and recommended improvements in data collection and research to understand the consequences and shortcomings of the pandemic.The Academy launched the report first with its members this summer at a webinar in which RRF made opening remarks. The Academy will follow up this fall with webinars for advocates and policymakers to roll out a series of fact sheets and a toolkit for their use in seeking policy reforms. The Academy's members include 1,200 elected social insurance experts, affiliated with universities, think tanks, business, labor, legislative and executive branches of federal or state government, and advocacy and interest groups. Its work is widely regarded as unbiased and authoritative, and its members are often called upon by journalists and citizen groups to explain issues that come up in policy debates.RRF is proud to be a funding partner with the Academy on this seminal work. Click "Download" to access this resource.

Many older workers have difficult jobs that put them at risk

May 17, 2023

There is a looming retirement crisis in the United States. Millions of people are entering their retirement years with insufficient savings to cover basic expenses and medical bills. In response, some policymakers have proposed that older Americans could delay retirement to increase their savings. This solution, however, overlooks the large group of older Americans who work in difficult conditions—ranging from the physically demanding to the outright dangerous. If older Americans endure difficult conditions that often force earlier exits from the workplace, proposals to delay retirement make little sense.Supporting workers' access to jobs that pay fair wages and provide solid benefits during their prime working years is a more effective way to close the retirement savings gap than forcing workers to delay retirement. To ensure older workers can afford to retire when they need to, policymakers must: provide support for workers with caregiving responsibilities, expand Social Security coverage and benefits, and bolster health and safety protections in the workplace.

The State of Senior Hunger in 2021

April 26, 2023

In this report, we provide a broad overview of the extent and distribution of food insecurity among seniors (those 60 years of age and older) in the United States in 2021, along with trends over the past two decades using national, state-level, and metropolitan-level data from the December Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS).We concentrate on two measures of food insecurity: food insecurity and very low food security (VLFS). These are based on the full set of 18 questions in the Food Security Supplement (FSS), the module used by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish the official food insecurity rates of households in the United States. We define food insecurity by three or more affirmative responses and very low food security as eight or more affirmative responses in households with children and six or more in households without children. All VLFS persons are also included in the food insecure category.

Hunger Among Adults Age 50-59 in 2021

April 26, 2023

In this report, we provide a broad overview of the extent and distribution of food insecurity among individuals between the ages of 50 and 59 in the United States in 2021, along with trends over the past decade and a half using national, state-level, and metropolitan-level data from the December Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS). This study complements the annual report on senior hunger from Ziliak and Gundersen (2023).We concentrate on two measures of food insecurity: food insecurity and very low food security (VLFS). These are based on the full set of 18 questions in the Food Security Supplement (FSS), the module used by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish the official food insecurity rates of households in the United States. We define food insecurity by three or more affirmative responses and very low food security as eight or more affirmative responses in households with children or six or more in households without children. All VLFS persons are also included in the food insecure category.

'Caring for Caregivers' Model Addresses Needs of Those Looking After Others

April 17, 2023

The journal of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), Health Progress, has published an article, "Aging - 'Caring for Caregivers' Model Addresses Needs of Those Looking After Others," as part of its spring 2023 issue.Family caregivers in the U.S. take on around 24 hours of complex care per week. Yet, nationally, caregiver needs are severely under addressed, leading to serious health consequences for millions of caregivers. This article explains the Caring for Caregivers Model at RUSH University Medical Center, which aims to address these needs by providing skilled and emotional support for caregivers through teams of physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, and social workers.With support from RRF Foundation for Aging, The John A. Hartford Foundation, the model is expanding as part of the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement, of which the Catholic Health Association is a founding partner.

Unmet Promises: Reverse Mortgage Servicing Challenges and How to Preserve Housing Stability for Older Adults

February 6, 2023

There are roughly 480,000 reverse mortgages currently outstanding in the United States. This number is expected to grow as baby boomers age. The program was designed to allow older homeowners to borrow against their home equity without the risk of displacement, but reverse mortgages end in foreclosure much more often than they should. Reverse mortgage borrowers who fall behind on property charges face significant hurdles to obtaining a narrow set of home retention options. Heirs struggle to access information necessary to satisfy the reverse mortgage without the need for foreclosure. Spouses who are not listed on loan documents, often termed "non-borrowing spouses," can generally remain in the home if they keep paying the property taxes, but are not eligible for loss mitigation. Servicers too often foreclose based on supposed non-occupancy when the borrower is still occupying the home. Across all of these situations, poor servicing communication and insufficient access to housing counseling exacerbate the problems.Resolving these problems is particularly important because of the effect of preventable reverse mortgage foreclosures on the racial wealth and homeownership gap. The crisis of preventable reverse mortgage foreclosures does not impact all communities equally. Historically, people of color have been more likely to take out reverse mortgages, due to the legacy of discrimination and policies that limited their wealth-building opportunities, and they are also more likely to end up in reverse mortgage foreclosure. The heirs of reverse mortgage borrowers of color may lose significant home equity if they are not able to sell or refinance the home to satisfy the loan. When it comes to addressing the racial wealth gap and racial homeownership gap, reducing the number of preventable reverse mortgage foreclosures is an important and necessary step.The FHA reverse mortgage program has not lived up to its full potential. Based on the information uncovered in this report, we call on FHA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to act quickly to prevent any additional home losses for this vulnerable population.

The Older Workers and Retirement Chartbook

November 16, 2022

The Older Workers and Retirement Chartbook shows the risks to retirement security and disparities in retirement preparedness, and explores the links between labor market challenges facing older workers and retirement insecurity.Updated February 9, 2023The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the plight of many older U.S. workers who cannot afford to retire yet are stuck in bad jobs or forced to leave the labor force before they're ready.The Older Workers and Retirement Chartbook from the Economic Policy Institute and the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis documents the risks and disparities in retirement preparedness among demographic groups. It offers a comprehensive look at the connections between labor market challenges facing older workers and retirement insecurity, using 33 charts to bring light to the problem.Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 4 in 10 Americans 55 and older were in the labor force, their highest participation rate in a half-century, the chartbook finds. The upward trend in labor force participation in recent decades reflects in part greater opportunities for older workers who want to keep working—but it also reflects retirement insecurity among some workers. The authors document how many older workers who cannot afford to retire face diminishing job quality and earnings due to a loss of bargaining power."Workers may work longer to close the retirement income gap, but this is neither a fair nor a realistic solution to a broken retirement system," says Monique Morrissey, EPI economist and co-author of the report. "Policy choices have weakened unions, eroded the real value of the minimum wage, and allowed employers to shift more responsibility for retirement onto workers. These all contribute to older workers' declining bargaining power."Black, Hispanic, women, disabled, and LGBTQ workers are at greater risk of hardship at older ages because of systemic problems. Black and Hispanic workers are more likely to lack access to retirement plans or have access to less generous plans. Lower lifetime earnings make it harder for workers of color, women, and people with disabilities to save for retirement. Women's greater caregiving responsibilities and longer life spans also put them at higher risk of old-age poverty despite closing the retirement plan coverage gap with men. LGBTQ seniors face adverse effects of past and present discrimination, including less access to spousal benefits."Everyone faces significant risks as they age, even well-off Americans," explains report co-author Siavash Radpour. "It is unrealistic to expect all older workers to save enough to guard against the possibility of losing their jobs, retiring during a market downturn, being widowed or divorced, or incurring expensive medical or long-term care needs."The authors outline several targeted policies that can improve the lives of older workers, including:Enforcing age discrimination laws;Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to help more adults without dependent children;Lowering employer health care costs for older workers;Changing performance metrics used to evaluate training programs that lead them to favor enrolling younger workers;Creating a dedicated Older Workers Bureau in the Department of Labor to help identify and address challenges facing older workers.But targeted policies are only one part of the solution. "Retirement insecurity comes from systemic problems, and these require systemic solutions," Barbara Schuster, co-author of the chartbook, explains. "Improving working conditions for all workers is vitally important, as is strengthening social insurance programs that offer critical protections."Broader policies include:Pursuing full-employment macroeconomic policies;Protecting workers' right to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions;Raising the minimum wage;Enacting paid leave and scheduling policies to ensure workers can take time to care for themselves and their families;Increasing caregiver supports;Fixing the patchwork unemployment system;Better protecting workers from injury and illness;Expanding and removing barriers to accessing Social Security and SSI benefits;Ensuring access to affordable health care and long-term care.

Unsustainable: Alabama's Increasing Trend of Keeping the Elderly Behind Bars

November 4, 2022

Alabama's reliance on life imprisonment for a wide range of offenses has resulted in soaring numbers of older, incarcerated people trapped in prison until death. The costs are enormous, simultaneously draining state resources and impacting the ability of the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) to effectively manage prisons. The sheer increase in the numbers of older, incarcerated people is stunning: In 1972, there were 181 individuals over the age of 50 in Alabama's prisons. That number now exceeds 6,750.This report seeks to determine just how much Alabama's rapidly aging prison population correlates with increases in the Department of Correction's financial burdens and systemic strain. Understanding the unsustainable nature of Alabama's aging prison population—and how the situation has reached a boiling point— exposes the necessity of comprehensive short and long term reform. Without reform, current trends indicate the uncontrollable expense of punishing thousands of people until they die will have severe consequences both for state budgets and prison safety.