Elder Economic Security Commission
Final Report Released
In May, the Elder Economic Security Commission released its final report which includes several policy recommendations that would help reduce the risk of economic hardship for older adults in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Association of Older Americans is a member of the commission.
The Elder Economic Security Standard Index (Elder Index) has calculated that for counties in Massachusetts, community dwelling older adults‘ expenses can vary from $23,052 to $45,348, depending on whether an older adult owns their own home or rents, are single or a couple, and where they live. Long-term care needs are an additional expense which can greatly increase the amount of money needed. If an older adult‘s income does not match their expenses, they will need public programs to fill the gap or they will suffer financial hardship. A recent report by Wider Opportunities for Women found that 63% of Massachusetts older households had incomes that fell below the Elder Index.
The commission made two general policy recommendations and a series of recommendations that address income, housing, and healthcare and long term care supports and services.
The general recommendations are:
- Massachusetts should adopt the Elder Economic Security Standard Index as a benchmark for determining the economic needs of older adults in Massachusetts.
- All state agencies dealing with older individuals should review their practices, procedures and notices to comply with the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission‘s set of best practices.
Other recommendations include:
- Extend the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for working people over age 65 (eliminate the age cap), increase the amount singles without children can receive, and increase the percentage of the federal credit that the state credit is based upon.
- Expand the non-profit state retirement plan to non-profits and businesses with less than 100 employees.
- Increase Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment amounts for Massachusetts recipients.
- Promote financial education and appropriations for Money Management seminars and counseling.
- Ensure access to Low-Income Heating Program (LIHEAP) benefits, weatherization, and conversion to energy efficient homes for eligible seniors as well as include a new line item in the Department of Communities and Development annual fiscal year budget to provide a state supplement to the federal LIHEAP allocation.
- Develop a new program for older adult home repairs focused on core systems, safety and barrier elimination (no frills), funded by an annual bond issue utilizing a mortgage instrument secured upon the homes of the senior homeowners enrolled.
- Expand MassHealth eligibility standards for individuals 65 and over.
- Raise the income eligibility for home care and ECOP to 300% of FPL as a wrap-around to the MassHealth program.
- Amend MassHealth regulations to allow spouses to be paid caregivers under PCA and AFC programs.
The recommendations in this report are wide-ranging, from immediate changes that could be made to more elaborate programmatic changes. All of the recommendations in this report deserve careful consideration with particular attention to the recommendation for a state initiated public social insurance program that would cover long-term care costs (a state CLASS Act). Long term care services pose the biggest risk to elder‘s economic security because these costs can amount to more than $100,000 per year and there is currently no effective way for most people to guard against these expenses. The federal government has failed to address the problem leaving the state to pick up the cost of the poor, chronically disabled elderly throughout MassHealth. It is in the best interests of both the citizens of the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth that Massachusetts to try to solve the funding of long-term services and supports.
Learn more by downloading a copy of the full report available online at: Elder Economic Security Commission
Aging & Mental Wellness: Person-Focused Community Responses to Elders in Crisis held on 13th May, 2016
Massachusetts Association of Older Americans and Massachusetts Department of Mental Health in partnership with Coastline Elderly Services, Inc., Bristol Elder Services, Inc., and Southcoast Behavioral Health organized the spring conference on Aging and Mental Wellness in May, 2016 at White’s of Westport
- Opioid Use and Elders
- Elders and Homelessness
- Person-Focused Behavioral Interventions with Elders Experiencing Crises
First conference on Trauma, Aging, and Well-Being during Later Life held on May 15, 2015 at White’s of Westport, Westport, MA
- Joanna Bridger, LICSW, Riverside Trauma Center
- Gayle Ann Clark, LICSW, VA Boston Healthcare Systems’ Geriatric Mental Health Outpatient Clinic, Brockton. Coordinator, VA Geriatric Mental Health Outpatient Clinic and the VA Dementia Care Program, Jamaica Plain
- Anthony Riello, LICSW, & Margaret Laneri, PhD, CPEC, Department of Veterans Affairs, Worcester Vet Center
- Erin Miller, MPS, MDV, CTSS, CASAC-T, Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Program, Newton-Wellesley Hospital
- Donna Amaral, PMHCNS, BC, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Steward/Saint Anne’s Center for Behavioral Medicine. Visiting Lecturer in Nursing, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
Massachusetts Association of Older Americans and Massachusetts Department of Mental Health in partnership with Senior Whole Health organized the second conference on Trauma, Aging, and Well-Being during Later Life on Dec 1, 2015 at Boston Common Hotel & Conference Center, Boston, MA
- Understanding Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care – Joanna Bridger, LICSW, Riverside Trauma Center
- Trauma & Human Resilience: Clinical Applications – Anthony Riello, LICSW, & Margaret Laneri, PhD, CPEC, Department of Veterans Affairs, Worcester Vet Center
- PTSD in the Older Adult: The New Frontier of Trauma Treatment – Theresa Guillaume, LICSW, Psychotherapist, Element Care PACE Program, Lynn
- Sexual Abuse in the Life of Older Adults – Erin Miller, MPS, MDV, CTSS, CASAC-T, Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Program, Newton-Wellesley Hospital