Partnership to Improve the Economic Security of Older Adults with Limited Resources
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Partnership to Improve the Economic Security of Older Adults with Limited Resources

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April 12, 2011

CONTACT:
Ken Schwartz
Director, Marketing & Communications        
202-600-3131  
ken.schwartz@ncoa.org

Statewide Summit Designed to Help Older Americans Make Ends Meet in Tough Times

Trenton, N.J. – The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and Bank of America have announced a partnership to increase the economic security of older adults in Mercer County, New Jersey.

To launch this effort, NCOA and Bank of America, in collaboration with the New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA), are convening a statewide Elder Economic Security Summit with state and local leaders from employment and training networks, legal and aging services, housing advocates, nonprofit consumer credit counseling, and health insurance counseling agencies. The Summit will be held on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch campus in Hopewell Township.

The Summit will bring together almost 100 direct service providers to discuss the situation facing New Jersey’s seniors and strategies to increase coordination of services. Distinguished speakers and guests include Garret Komjathy, director of the NJ Division of Banking; Patricia Polansky, assistant commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services; and Candace Pew, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

In addition, thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, NCOA offices in Trenton and Mercer County will provide one-on-one economic assistance to 200 low-income older adults struggling to make ends meet.

The New Jersey efforts are part of a larger national initiative spanning six communities across the U.S. In total, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation has provided $275,000 to NCOA Economic Security Centers in Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, San Francisco, Mercer County, NJ, and Orange County, NY, to assist over 1,200 older adults experiencing economic distress this year.

In spite of recent stories highlighting the oncoming wave of well-off retiring seniors, recent data indicates that millions of seniors are struggling to maintain their most basic economic security. According to the most recent government calculations, one in three older adults aged 65+ is economically insecure, and older adults are among those most likely to remain out of work 99 weeks or longer.

“The current economic climate has hit our community hard, and our office is stretched beyond our ability to help,” said Roger Leahy, director of NCOA’s New Jersey Older Worker Resource Center. “Thankfully, this program will allow us to help get seniors and mature workers comprehensive support in Mercer County and hopefully back on a path to financial security.”

According to the 2010–2012 area agency on aging plan for Mercer County seniors, “Most single elders in Mercer County are living on Social Security income alone, receiving $14,644 annually, senior couples receiving $23,820.”  

In order to be considered economically secure, a single senior must earn $22,670 annually ($33,617 for an elder couple) in Mercer County, according to the Elder Economic Security Standard Index (Elder Index). The Elder Index, tabulated by Wider Opportunities for Women, provides a geographically specific measure of economic security by drawing upon state and federal data sets using a national methodology. 

“The reality of the Elder Index findings are sobering and hopefully will change the way we address the economic needs of all of Mercer County’s older population,” said Grace Egan, executive director of the New Jersey Foundation for Aging. “We are pleased to see NCOA using the Elder Index to benchmark the outcomes of clients participating in the Bank of America supported initiative.”

“As an increasing number of low-income seniors struggle financially, we are excited to partner with the National Council on Aging to help build their financial security,” said Robert Doherty, Bank of America New Jersey president. “Providing integrated services from job placement to health and transportation resources is essential to promoting economic self-sufficiency and stability to a population in need.”

In addition to supporting one-on-one services, over the coming months NCOA, in collaboration with NJFA, will continue to coordinate regional and community-wide discussions among local partners and organizations on how to better assist seniors in need. NCOA and Bank of America will also work together to connect more eligible seniors to the public benefits and income support, as well as to leverage bank associate volunteers to increase senior awareness on personal economic issues.

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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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