Seniors are often poorer than federal statistics suggest. While one quarter of seniors were reported to have family incomes below 150% of the federal poverty line as of July 2008, the number didn’t account for healthcare costs, which are a substantial – and life-saving – expense for many seniors. We talk to many elderly clients who skip medications and medical care, and cut back on food, to keep a roof over their heads. According to an analysis released in February 2009 by University of California, Los Angeles, seniors living at the federal poverty level only have enough money to cover half of their most basic costs such as housing, utilities, medical care – and food.
Elderly women are far more likely to be poor than men. Thirteen percent of women over 75 years old are poor, compared to 6% of men. Women end up poorer due to a lifetime pay gap compared to men, occupational choices with lower pay scales, and time spent out of the workforce raising children or caring for elderly parents.