Why You Should Spot Grandma a $20

The golden years of retirement have proved to be only gilded for many seniors in San Diego. More than one-third of all of the city’s adults over 65 fall beneath the Elder Economic Security Index, an income level that allows seniors to provide for their basic needs, but also sit above the Federal Poverty Line. This limbo has allowed many senior citizens to fall through the cracks, unable to afford basic necessities and unable to receive federal assistance.

Close to 42 percent of San Diego County’s adults over 65 have incomes that fall below the Elder Index, which takes housing, food, transportation, health care as well as miscellaneous expenses into account. More alarming, 34.1 percent of San Diego seniors fall below the Elder Index but above the Federal Poverty Line, barring them from being able to receive public assistance programs.

Many of these senior citizens stuck in the loophole are left thousands of dollars short or are forced to go without. The University of California Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development quantified the cost of living for San Diego seniors and found that, in some cases, it was as much as $20,000 above the poverty line.

According to a study released by The Center for Studying Healthcare System Change, one in seven seniors cannot afford to fill their prescriptions. That figure has jumped 35 percent since 2003.

Senior citizen advocates criticized the Federal Poverty Line and are calling for reform in senior citizen care. Susan Smith, the Director of the California Elder Economic Security Initiative (Cal-EESI) at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development called the federal poverty line arbitrary and obsolete. She said the data her group and UCLA has collected should be eye-opening

"By quantifying the number of individuals who fall into this gap, the Elder Index provides us with a much-needed reality check,” Smith wrote in a press release.

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