House Approves Cuts Targeting Seniors
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House Approves Cuts Targeting Seniors

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February 21, 2011

CONTACT:
Ken Schwartz
ken.schwartz@ncoa.org
202-600-3131

Bill Guts the Only Jobs Program for Vulnerable Older Americans

Washington, DC – Cuts included in the spending bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives this past week would harm seniors by drastically slashing initiatives that help older Americans to sustain their economic independence and health. Provisions would:

  • Cut job training and placement by over $2 billion, including a $525 million cut in services specifically for low-income seniors.
  • Cut senior housing programs by $551 million.
  • Cut Community Health Centers that serve seniors by $1 billion.
  • Cut low-income home energy assistance by $390 million.
  • Eliminate the Weatherization program.
  • Cut Community Services Block Grants, which assist 2.3 million seniors, by $305 million.
  • Cut programs that include senior volunteers by over $1 billion.
  • Cut the Social Security Administration by $625 million, which will slow down claims.  

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is particularly concerned that the continuing appropriations bill provides for a 64% cut in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), the only major jobs program targeted specifically to helping disadvantaged older adults who need to remain in or return to the workforce to avoid financial crisis. SCSEP serves those with extremely low incomes, with eligibility limited to 125% of the federal poverty line (currently $13,613). This cut would result in the loss of over 83,000 part-time jobs, thus eliminating the primary source of income for many of them.  

“For older adults aged 55-64, who cannot yet claim Social Security, the loss of this program could be particularly devastating,” said Jim Firman, president and CEO of NCOA. “According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, older workers who have lost a job are more likely than any other age group to face very long-term unemployment and remain jobless for 99 weeks or more.”

Public support for older adult jobs programs is extremely high, according to a survey conducted by Lake Research Partners for Wider Opportunities for Women in October 2010. The survey found that 84% of Americans supported or strongly supported “funding programs that help senior citizens find employment,” including 90% of Democrats polled, 79% of Republicans, and 79% of Independents.  

“If the politicians truly ‘listened to the people’ as they claim,” said Firman, “they certainly would not cut jobs for seniors, particularly in this economy.”

The House legislation also calls for a $390 million cut in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Almost 40% of households served by LIHEAP include an adult aged 60 or older. This reduction will force older Americans to make life and death decisions between buying food and medicine or home energy.

Employment and benefits are important pieces of the puzzle for older adults who are living on the edge of poverty. NCOA is committed to helping older adults build greater economic security, and offers a variety of other resources, including:

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About NCOA  The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the nation’s leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization representing older adults and the community organizations that serve them. Our goal is to improve the health, independence, and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. For more than 60 years, NCOA has been a trusted voice and innovative problem-solver helping seniors navigate the challenges of aging in America. We work with local and national partners to give older adults tools and information to stay healthy and secure, and we advocate for programs and policies to improve the lives of all seniors, especially the most vulnerable. For more information, please visit www.ncoa.org.

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