Gerontology

 

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Introduction

Older Americans are considered to be aged 65 years and over. Data on the poverty levels of older Americans can be found in the U.S. Census Bureau site whereas the Administration on Aging website also provides a profile of older Americans with income being one of the components of the profile. This paper analyzes income status and poverty level of older Americans.

Observations

            There was a reduction in poverty threshold for older Americans in 2009 compared to 2008. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (Link 4) data collected by the American Community Survey (ACS), the 2009 poverty threshold for a family with one person aged 65 years and over was 10,289. During the same year, the poverty threshold for a family with two people and the householder was 65 years and over was 12,968 (where there was no related child under 18 years) and 14, 731 where there was one related child under 18 years. As such, the weighted average poverty threshold was 12,982. In 2008, the poverty threshold was slightly higher with weighted average threshold for a family with one person aged 65 years and over being 10, 326. In a family with two people and the householder was 65 years and over (with no related child under 18 years), poverty threshold was 13,014 whereas the threshold where there was one related child under 18 years was 14,784. The average weighted threshold in this case was 13,030.

Majority of older Americans (whether male or female) have an income beyond the poverty threshold. A family and its members are classified as living in poverty if the appropriate threshold is greater than the family’s total income (U.S. Census Bureau, Link 2). The Profile of Older Americans: 2009 provides that older males had a median income of $25,503 whereas older females had a median income of $14,559 (Administration on Aging, para 1). Both income levels were higher than the 2008 poverty threshold of 10,326 in one member family or 13,030 for 2 member family unit. In fact only 7.3% of households that had an elderly householder earned less than $15,000 with most (62.1%) of such households earning at least $35,000. In fact households whose head were aged 65 years and over had a median income of $44,188 in 2008 which was way beyond the poverty threshold. Reported incomes by older persons in 2008 also indicate that a majority of older Americans have an income beyond the poverty threshold. A median income of $18,337 was reported in 2008 and only 20.3% of those who reported had an income below $10,000.

Social Security funds form the principal source of incomes for older Americans. It is reported that 87% of all older persons got their incomes from the Social Security in 2007 (Administration on Aging, para 2). Whether married or non-married beneficiaries, the Social Security is the main source of income for a majority of older persons. 36% of all income that went to the older person was from the Social Security. It is however notable that there are other sources of income such as asset income and private pensions for older person but these form a smaller contribution compared to Social Security Benefits.

In conclusion, it is evident that the poverty threshold for older persons is reducing comparing 2008 and 2009 thresholds. The largest proportion of older Americans have an income that is greater than the poverty threshold and thus a majority of older Americans are not in poverty. Finally, the largest proportion of older persons’ incomes comes from Social Security benefits although private pension and asset income are also a common source of income.

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