So, do you get the feeling that American seniors will be living longer but on less money? Well, according to a new study from the Senior Economic Security Index, a new research project developed by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University and Demos, a national public policy and research organization, some three out of four senior households lack the economic security needed to sustain them through their lives. The study points out that older Americans have experienced huge, negative financial shifts that now make it more difficult to enter retirement with sustainable economic security. In fact, 87 percent of all senior households are financially vulnerable when it comes to their ability to meet essential expenses and to cover projected costs over their lifetimes. It also notes that single households, African-American households, and Latino households are the most likely groups of seniors to be financially vulnerable. Particular areas of vulnerability include: *45 percent of seniors households spend nearly a third of their income on housing while 31 percent either rent or have no home equity to draw on in tough times *40 percent of senior households spend more than 15 percent of their income on healthcare *One in three senior households has no money whatsoever left over after meeting essential expenses *More than half of senior households (some 54 percent) do not have sufficient financial resources to meet median projected expenses based on their current financial net worth, projected Social Security, and pension incomes. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Tatjana Meschede, lead author of Living Longer on Less: The New Economic (In)Security of Seniors, says that “Even in their current precarious state, it is important to note that today’s seniors are better prepared for retirement than subsequent generations will be. They have benefited from pensions, jobs with significant retirement benefits, and a stronger social safety net than subsequent generations will enjoy.” But, left unchanged, the report points out that the current decline in employer-based retirement savings, the weakening of Social Security and Medicare, and rising debt experienced by younger Americans will add up to even greater vulnerability as they retire, “Younger generations who face historically low savings rates, declining assets, and an unsure future for their retirement accounts and Social Security itself, must urge our policy leaders to take action to strengthen the security of today’s seniors and to ensure their own,” says Jennifer Wheary, a co-author of Living Longer on Less. For more information and to download the report, go to iasp.brandeis.edu and demos.org.
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