Too Many Impoverished Elderly Overlook Government Help

Millions of senior citizens are living in poverty without financial assistance from the federal government that they are eligible to claim. And according to research, most of them are single women. The question is, why? According to Kathleen McGarry, a professor at UCLA who focuses on financial issues that affect the elderly, more than half of the elderly who are eligible for supplemental security income (SSI), are not receiving it. The problem, says McGarry, is that, although SSI benefit amounts are increased annually for inflation, the income allowances and asset thresholds used to determine eligibility are the same as they were back in 1989. As a result, only “a poorer and poorer segment of the population is getting any benefit.” If these amounts were indexed to the cost of living, she estimates allowable assets would increase to roughly $7,000 for single individuals and $10,500 for couples, enabling many more individuals to qualify. Research by McGarry and others suggests one possibility is that some seniors might not know about the program. It’s also conceivable that some people might think that if you receive Social Security, you cannot also get SSI. But, surprisingly, McGarry and others say a major reason so many economically-disadvantaged seniors are not taking advantage of SSI is pride.

Source/more: Fox Business

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