Financially challenged seniors grow in numbers, according to Census Bureau

In recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of seniors currently living at or on the edge of poverty has grown—with the economic downturn to blame.

According to the figures, older adults with incomes below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) rose from 33.7 percent (13,023,000) in 2009 to 34.6 percent (13,549,000). Those living below 100 percent of the FPL grew from 3.4 to 3.5 million.

Living on less than $22,000 per year, 13 million seniors are only one incident such as a bad break, accident or a layoff away from economic disaster, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA).

“The reality is that there is an unseen crisis occurring in this country today, and that is rising economic insecurity among older Americans,” said Sandra Nathan, senior vice president for Economic Security at NCOA.

In a statement, NCOA said the current poverty measurement needs to be updated, which is based on 1955 food consumption patterns and does not reflect current living standards. Because this model does not reflect tax liabilities, out-of-pocket spending on healthcare or other significant costs, a modernized measure would like show an even larger proportion of older adults living in poverty, NCOA argued.

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