Last week the Wisconsin Women’s Network’s (WWN) report, Wisconsin Elder Economic Security Initiative (WiEESI), was featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Guy Boulton here.
Our report details the precarious financial situation of seniors living in Wisconsin. A key part of the initiative is a calculation of the Wisconsin Elder Economic Security Standard Index (Elder Index), a measure of an Elder’s income needs in regards to routine expenses, housing, and healthcare. The resulting Elder Index may then be used to better determine and address the needs of Wisconsin’s Elders.
WiEESI is a part of a national campaign, the National Elder Economic Security Initiative, with WWN spearheading the Wisconsin section. The initiative strives to not only assess the economic status of elders, but to combine research, organizing, and advocacy to further the prosperity of our nation’s aging population.
As individuals get older, income tends to decrease, and health care costs rise. Depleted pensions and decreasing savings lead to a higher dependence on social security payments. In Wisconsin, 7.5% of those 65 and older are below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Income threats are even greater for senior women with 5.3% of senior men below the FPL and 9.2% of senior women. Even those at or above the FPL may be struggling. The Elder Index determined by the report has shown that the actual needs of Wisconsin elders far exceed the Federal Poverty Level as well as the average Social Security benefits of many.
This gap is not temporary. America’s largest generation is entering their sixties and will certainly be facing economic hardship at new levels. This is a policy issue that will surely be of utmost importance in the years to come.
In Wisconsin, the WWN is using data from WiEESI to better understand and advocate for a better future for Wisconsin Seniors. WWN is working to preserve the Wisconsin Homestead Tax Credit and tie the credit’s income limit to the Consumer Price Index, and to increase access to Senior Care and to food assistance.
For more information and sources check out our website where you can download the full, updated 2013 data that Boulton reported on and I have referenced.