Bankruptcy Booming Among Older Americans


Lawrence Sedita, 74Roger Kisby/The New York Times

For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy.

The signs of potential trouble — vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.

Driving the surge, the study suggests, is a three-decade shift of financial risk from government and employers to individuals, who are bearing an ever-greater responsibility for their own financial well-being as the social safety net shrinks.

The transfer has come in the form of, among other things, longer waits for full Social Security benefits, the replacement of employer-provided pensions with 401(k) savings plans and more out-of-pocket spending on health care. Declining incomes, whether in retirement or leading up to it, compound the challenge.

But, hey, if you’re a Trumplican, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. You have no shortage of folks to hate, to blame, and your own political party that keeps the rich afloat and you at the ready to help – them – out.

Bernie’s petition

At a time of massive wealth inequality, when 99% of all new income generated in this country goes to the top 1%, and when over half of the American people have less than $10,000 in savings, the last thing we should do is cut Social Security.

When the average Social Security benefit is $1,328 a month, and more than one-third of our senior citizens rely on Social Security for virtually all of their income, our job is to expand benefits, not cut them.

Despite what some of my Republican colleagues have said, Social Security is not going broke. It has a $2.8 trillion surplus and can pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 18 years.

The best way to make Social Security solvent for the next 50 years is to scrap the cap on taxable earnings. Join me and my friends at Social Security Works in calling on Congress to scrap the cap and expand, not cut Social Security!

Today, a Wall Street CEO who makes $18 million a year pays the same into Social Security as someone earning $118,500. That’s absurd. If we simply applied the payroll tax on income above $250,000, not only could we extend Social Security’s solvency until 2065, we could also increase benefits to meet the elderly’s higher living expenses.

Despite the logic behind that, some Republicans want to raise the Social Security retirement age to 69 and reduce benefits. I wonder what world these people are living in. To take benefits away from seniors now is simply a continuation of the war being waged by the Republican Party against the elderly, against the children, against the sick and against the poor, in order to benefit millionaires and billionaires…

Stand with me today and call on Congress to scrap the cap and use the increased revenues to expand, not cut Social Security. If we stand together and fight back, we can win this battle.

Sincerely,

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U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

Click on the link in the post. Join the fight.

Feds open Medicare to same-sex married couples


Kathleen SebeliusAP Photo

The Obama administration announced on Thursday that same-sex married couples can qualify for Medicare hospital and physician benefits for the first time.

The decision, coming after a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a federal ban against same-sex marriage, allows the Social Security Administration to determine the eligibility of married gay applicants to Medicare, the federal government’s healthcare program for the elderly and the disabled…

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the government has begun the enrollment process for some same-sex spouses while handling requests for special enrollment periods from others. CMS oversees the $635 billion Medicare program. But SSA determines eligibility.

“If you’re in, or are a surviving spouse of, a same-sex marriage, we encourage you to apply for Medicare if you think you might be eligible,” CMS said in a web posting.

Overdue – and welcome – whether you qualify or simply are an American who believes in civil rights.