Elder Index Helps Highlight Importance of Social Security Solvency - Generocity
The issue of Social Security’s steadily vanishing trust fund reserves is well known in Washington and sets the stage for serious discussion when the 117th Congress convenes in January. And it’s a matter of considerable urgency, since while the “official” projection for total depletion of these reserves is 2035, most insiders know the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought this date forward to this decade. It’s not a self-correcting problem, with the result being a substantial across-the-board cut in benefits, absent corrective action.
Much has been written about what a cut in benefits would mean to America’s Seniors, many of whom already struggle to survive financially in their retirement years. Jan Mutchler, professor in the Department of Gerontology at University of Massachusetts Boston, underscores this situation in a post on generocity.org, by pointing to ” … at least 11 million older adults who are struggling to make ends meet.” Her article goes on to further analyze the demographic implications of this struggle, stressing that, “Dramatically higher percentages of Black, Latino and Asian older adults live on incomes that don’t meet their cost of living, even with Social Security.”
Ms. Mutchler bases much of her analysis on statistics drawn from UMass Boston’s Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index (Elder Index), a measurement tool designed to assess the income level needed for older adults to meet basic needs and age with some level of dignity. Her article provides a geographic review of where the financial problems of older Americans are most serious, and suggests steps that can be considered to deal with the problem and its long-term implications.
One of the four main areas where Ms. Mutchler advocates action is, naturally, Social Security and Medicare. As she points out, these two programs are “the foundations of a secure retirement for millions of Americans.” Accordingly, it is incumbent on the incoming Congress to prioritize the Social Security reform issue so that corrective action can be achieved as quickly as possible, The clock is ticking, and the closer we get to insolvency, the more severe this corrective action will need to be.