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Poverty Among CT's Seniors May Be Higher than Originally Thought

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

The coming Silver Tsunami may be worse than its forecast.

Using a new measure for poverty, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study says that poverty among the elderly is substantially higher than originally thought. Poverty among Connecticut seniors, in fact, is more than twice as high as originally measured.

For roughly 40 years, the Census Bureau has measured poverty at three times the subsistence food budget from 1963 (adjusted for inflation). The level varies based on the size of a family and the age of its members. When comparing incomes to this threshold, the Census Bureau includes all monetary income (such as income from a job and Social Security benefits) prior to taxes.

Responding to criticisms that the measure was outdated and inaccurate, in 2011 the Bureau released the supplemental poverty measure, which does not deduct health expenses from income, and which, among other changes from the traditional measure, takes into account differences in housing costs based on a household’s location.

The supplemental poverty measure is not meant to assess eligibility for government assistance, but under the new measure at least 10 percent of seniors live in poverty in nearly every state (Iowa is the outlier) and in D.C. By comparison, under the older measure, senior poverty rates are below 10 percent in most states.

In Connecticut, the poverty rate among seniors using the traditional measure is roughly 6 percent. Using the supplemental rate, the rate is 13 percent.

You can read the report here


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