September 12, 2023, Arlington, Virginia—The following is a statement from Ramsey Alwin, President and CEO of the National Council on Aging (NCOA), on the latest U.S. Census Bureau data on poverty, income, and health insurance in 2022.
For three years in a row, more Americans ages 65 and older are living in poverty—robbed of their ability to age with dignity. This is simply unacceptable in a country as rich as ours. Nor does it bode well for the 4.4 million Americans turning 65 next year.
The latest Census numbers show that under the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), the older adult poverty rate has jumped from 9.5% in 2020 to 10.7% in 2021 to 14.1% in 2022. Alarmingly, poverty among children also shot up to 12.4% in 2022 from a historic low of 5.2% in 2021.
Yet, the latest numbers also point us to the solution—the tremendous power of government programs. Social Security alone moved 20.1 million older adults out of poverty. Combined, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing subsidies, and the Supplemental Security Income lifted 1.6 million older adults out of poverty.
We have the programs in place to alleviate poverty. Now we need the political will and resources to do so.
Right now, 5 million older adults are missing out on SNAP alone, amounting to $6.3 billion each year. Overall, we estimate that eligible older adults are leaving $30 billion on the table annually because they’re not enrolled in public benefits. NCOA and 56 other national health organizations are urging House and Senate leaders to provide permanent, annual funding of $75 million for benefits outreach and enrollment efforts.
Many Americans support these programs. In our recent survey of women ages 25 and older, respondents expressed strong bipartisan support for 13 policies to ensure a secure retirement, including making Social Security cost-of-living adjustments reflect the cost of housing and health care and increasing benefits above the federal poverty level.
It’s time to stop this upward trend in poverty in its tracks—for Americans of all ages.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the national voice for every person’s right to age well. We believe that how we age should not be determined by gender, color, sexuality, income, or ZIP code. Working with thousands of national and local partners, we provide resources, tools, best practices, and advocacy to ensure every person can age with health and financial security. Founded in 1950, we are the oldest national organization focused on older adults. Learn more atwww.ncoa.org and @NCOAging.