6 in 10 Older Women Can’t Pay Basic Living Expenses

In 2011, Republicans were in an uproar over an ad that compared Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan to “throwing grandma over a cliff.”  Now, in 2012, Ryan and his colleagues in the House are introducing a budget that is nearly identical to the one panned in 2011 — one that will cut Medicare, Social Security and other social safety net programs in order to extend tax breaks to the richest Americans and to corporations.

The Republican party is no longer trying to throw Grandma off a cliff.  That would be much quicker.  Instead, they are trying to freeze, starve and neglect her until she dies.  And sadly, it appears to be working.

The latest figures out from a Wider Opportunities for Women study shows that 60 percent of elderly women are unable to pay for basic living expenses.  As WomenENews reports, the average elderly woman is living on less than $15,000 a year, about half of what an elderly man is living on.  “Using the Elder Economic Security Standard Index, which defines the basic expenses facing retired adults over the age of 65, the organization’s researchers found that an older adult required from $19,100 to $29,000 a year, depending on the individual’s housing situation. Forty-nine percent of white women and 61 percent of older Asian women were unable to meet their monthly expenses for housing, food, health care and other necessities. Three out of four African-American and Hispanic women had insufficient funds.”

There are a number of reasons why elderly women are fairing so badly.  Because they tend to outlive their partners, they shoulder more living expenses alone.  And due to time off in the workplace and lower pay over their careers they tend to have less in their retirement and pension accounts and receive less in Social Security.  Due to their longer lives they are also subject to more health expenses that increase as they grow older, and lose more wealth earlier on caring for sick partners.

As more elderly women fall into poverty — especially minority women — it is a reminder of the increased importance of programs like Medicare and Social Security.  And those are two programs that Republicans want to drastically change in order to keep providing disproportionately lower taxes to the wealthy.

It would be kinder just to throw grandma off the cliff than starve her to death.


Photo credit: Thinkstock


Dennis D.
Past Member 6 years ago

And yet the right continues to fight Affordable HealthCare Act. When so much needs to be done for all our citizens young and old.

Ala M.
Ala Morales6 years ago

I am a senior living on a small governmental pension which is US social security. I worked all my life paid in both taxes Federal and Provincial and now I have to live on dictated governmental mere pension. Government loves you when you contribute in taxes and hates you when they have to pay you pension. In Quebec, Canada the politicians are debating on utilizing euthanasia for old with extended illnesses. It is scary knowing that when you get sick you will be murdered by doctors in order to save on governmental pensions. Politicians became evil and disrespectful for the elderly. We are considered as trash that needs to be disposed of.

Ann F.
Ann Fenner6 years ago

I am one of those elderly and feel I can speak to this problem. I want to make it clear that I am not complaining, I am one of the most fortunate of Social Security recipients, my income is $12,000 a year and I can still walk & drive. Most of my friends are not so lucky, but they are low-income so they qualify for the Medicaid program. Medicaid provides disabled & elderly with "home health aides" who come in the home for a few hours a week. They provide a little socialization, basic cleaning, laundry or grocery shopping. This is essential to keep them out of nursing homes. These aides are paid minimum wage & mileage. I think this is the answer. I would like to see Medicare or Medicaid pay for a "home health" aide for any elderly person (with appropriate income requirements) that needs it. I think this system would be vastly more economical for taxpayers than around the clock nursing care in a nursing home. So many of my friends depend so much on this service. Independent living would not be possible without it. I wish Medicare could offer this service for all elderly Social Security recipients (with appropriate income levels, of course). So far as I can tell this service is for Medicaid recipients only. I'm sure this would be strongly opposed by the nursing home lobbists because they are making a lot of money warehousing seniors. With the current mood of Republicans in Congress, I am sorry to say I probably will be one of them.

Connie T.
Past Member 6 years ago

In Australia continual interest rate cuts mean retirees who do not receive money from the government by way of social security have had their spending power cut by 40/50%, all to the benefit of over committed want-it-all-nowers. Some can't afford heating, lighting, or proper nutrition. Real callous way to treat elderlies who have worked all their lives hoping for a bit of comfort in their old age.

Terry V.
Terry V6 years ago

Seniors are treated like OLD garbage

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago

its sad, and true. and families are not always in a position to help much. the elderly are sadly not being well cared for... no person should ever have to feel that they are a burden.

Anna Donnelly
Anna Donnelly7 years ago

Older women need to band together and form support groups where they can pool their life skills to help each other, they need to buy their cars, food and clothing from places that employ older women. They cannot rely on the so-called associations that claim to help the 50 group and all these associations can do is send out a few magazines in the year and try to sell you their products. The political parties either only care about the 1% or want to dish out food stamps ( to people who sell them in the black market) and allow Medicare fraud. There really is no middle ground. They have to do less quilting and knitting and more networking.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W7 years ago


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g d c7 years ago


Sam Richardson

This article makes me so sad. I can just picture my own grandmother and some of the other older women in my life, and how they are the women this article talks about; incapable of paying for their expenses because they've outlived partners and have less retirement funds. It's so heartbreaking that the Republicans want to make such a dire situation worse :(