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Fifty-Nine Percent of NJ’s Seniors Can’t Cover Their Basic Costs

NJ Foundation for Aging

145 West Hanover Street, Trenton, NJ 08618

Phone 609-421-0206   Fax 609-421-2006  

Email: office@njfoundationforaging.org



                                                                        Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                      Contact:  Grace Egan, Exec. Director

May 1, 2017                                                                                                                                          Melissa Chalker, Program Manager


Fifty-Nine Percent of NJ’s Seniors Can’t Cover Their Basic Costs

Trenton—More than 549,000 seniors over age 65 live alone or in elder couple households. A report released by the NJ Department of Human Services details the cost of living for seniors over age 65 across all of NJ’s counties. By examining these costs a second report Living Below the Line 2017 indicates that “New Jersey’s statewide Elder Economic Insecurity Rate (EEIR) is 59%; nearly six in 10 New Jersey retired elder-only households’ lack sufficient annual incomes to insulate them against poverty as they age. While such insecurity affects elders of all backgrounds, New Jersey EEIRs vary greatly by household type, housing type, race, gender and location.  This data infers that 300,000 seniors who live alone or in an elder couple household do not have sufficient financial assets to cover their basic living costs. Sixty-six percent of these seniors are women. The Living Below the Line Report research notes that the “median annual incomes among NJ retired women vary greatly by race and ethnicity. Median income for White women elders ($18,817) is approximately $4,300 higher than median income for Black women elders ($14,521), $8,930 higher than median income for Hispanic women elders ($9,883), and $6,200 higher than median income for Asian women elders ($12,605)”.

The Data tell us that 30 % of all NJ seniors rely on social security as their sole income. “In addition, non-White seniors rely more heavily than White seniors on Social Security as a source of income, but have on average annual Social Security payments several thousand dollars lower than White seniors’ payments. Seniors of color may also face higher expenses, as they are more likely to be renters”.

It is crucial to connect NJ’s most economically challenged seniors to public benefit programs.  Food and nutrition programs not only offer quality food but also enable seniors to use their limited dollars to cover their other basic costs such as housing. These programs include SNAP formerly known as Food Stamps, congregate meal programs, home delivered meals, the USDA’s Farmers market coupons, etc. Another key support is NJ PAAD, NJ’s Prescription Assistance for the Aging and Disabled. These programs make the difference when seniors are faced with the daily challenge of paying the rent or buying food, paying for utilities or needed prescriptions.

Many NJ seniors who have worked and saved find they face a similar challenge with the widening gap between their costs and income. They are just one catastrophe away from living in poverty.  Connecting seniors to these essential programs can improve the quality of their lives and their overall health status. For a list of county resources go to www.njfoundationforaging.org/services/

To read the two newly reports go to http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/news/reports/doasreports.html and look for the Final 2015 EESS Index Report and Living Below the Line 2017.

The New Jersey Foundation for Aging mission is promote policy and services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence & dignity. www.njfoundationforaging.org or call 609-421-0206