The improvements in nutrition, health care, and medicine have lengthened the lifespan of Americans but with this good fortune come new challenges for our culture. The elderly population in particular is expanding at an unprecedented rate. Today, those over the age of sixty five represent around thirteen percent of the total population. By the year 2030, this figure is estimated to be around twenty percent. Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, make up about thirty percent of our population and their approaching retirement will cause inevitable shifts in our society (Gorin, 2011; Gokhale, 2010).
This paper will look at key questions posed by this trend. What programs are available to help the elderly? Will older Americans continue to work or retire? What kinds of health care will they need? How much will they need for their retirement? More importantly, how will public and private programs react to these demographic changes? There are no clear cut answers but by analyzing these programs and trends Americans can better prepare themselves financially for the uncertain times that lie ahead.
Social Security is perhaps the most trusted and successful program for retiring Americans but much political strife has risen over the economic feasibility of this program. In the U.S., both employers and employees pay Social Security taxes. Funds generated by these taxes go to qualified beneficiaries – those at retirement age or other qualifications. In this respect, today's workers provide the money for those currently drawing benefits. When today's workers retire, a new generation of workers will fund their retirement – at least in theory. Benefits from Social Security are based on the amount of taxes you have paid in and are based on your income. If you pay more in Social Security taxes you will get more back. However, Social Security pays a disproportionate amount to lower income people and, in that respect, Social Security provides more for those in need (Gorin, 2011; Henslin & Fowler, 2010).
[...] (2010). Child, Family, School, Community: Socialization and Support. (8th Ed). Belmont, CA. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. Gokhale, J. (2010). Social Security: A Fresh Look at Reform Alternatives. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Gorin, S. (2011). The New Threat to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Health & Social Work, 165-167. [...]
[...] Food stamps, otherwise known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are a local program subsidized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Elderly, low income people may qualify for assistance in purchasing groceries. Food stamps, coupons, or credits can be used at most grocery stores for most food related products. Usually this program is handled by the county of residence and regulated by the state (Henslin & Fowler, 2010). The low income elderly may also take advantage of public housing programs. The U.S. [...]
[...] Only one third of elderly poor and fifteen percent of non-poor elderly have Medicaid coverage despite the financial advantages of doing so. Complex enrollment processes, lack of awareness, and the reluctance to enroll in a Welfare type program all factor into reasons why some elderly Americans do not participate (Gorin, 2011). The fact that Medicaid is a combination of federal and state programs remains a problem. Some states are more generous in their contributions than others. Working poor in New Jersey, for example, receive free prescriptions while those in South Carolina pay a reduced charge. [...]
[...] Spending on Social Security benefits is roughly fifty percent higher than on Medicare benefits. But because Medicare costs are rising are rising so fast more than ten percent annually this spending will surpass Social Security in twenty years. Medicare reform is much more complicated than Social Security but there are still solutions. Legislators could begin by increasing co-payments, requiring wealthy participants to pay more, and restructuring the drug benefit program. Medicare's troubles are a direct result of the relentless, soaring costs of health care. [...]
[...] Some states cover therapeutic, chiropractic, and optical services while others do not. Medicaid is thus an unfunded federal mandate for the states to handle as they see fit. But with less federal and state funds this supplemental program is in dire jeopardy, even more so than Social Security and Medicare (Gokhale, 2010). Disability Being disabled is something no one likes to think about. But studies show that three out of ten workers will become disabled before they reach retirement age. [...]
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