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Tools for Elder Hispanic Economic Security

Nationally, more than 12 million Hispanics live in poverty, including more than 650,000 who are 65 years and older.

But poverty level alone does not fully illustrate the economic challenges facing older adults. A more accurate measure is the Elder Economic Security Standard Index (Elder Index), which measures the income retired adults need to remain in their home and meet basic monthly expenses without assistance.

According to the Elder Index, an older adult in good health living alone in a rented apartment needs, on average, $23,364 to cover basic expenses. By comparison, the 2017 federal poverty level (FPL) is $12,060 for a generic family of one. Which means many older adults fall “in the gap” between the FPL and the amount needed to cover necessities.

This gap is especially significant for older Latinos. Below is a comparison of economic insecurity among all elder couples and Hispanic couples based on the Elder Index data. Looking across all races, 1 in 4 older couples is economically insecure, whereas that rises to half of all Hispanic couples.

While all single older adults are at a higher risk to be economically insecure, Hispanic singles are even more likely to be poor and/or fall “in the gap.”

Barriers to retirement

One of the major reasons Hispanic older adults experience greater economic insecurity is that they are entering retirement with fewer assets than their non-Hispanic peers. For example:

  • Latinos tend to have lower wages, lower household income, and higher unemployment rates. The median household income for Hispanics was around 32% less than that of white households in 2012.
  • Only 38% of Hispanic employees ages 25-64 have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan —a critical resource to ensuring adequate retirement income.
  • Four out of five Hispanic households ages 25-64 have less than $10,000 in retirement savings—compared to 1 out of 2 white households.

Tools to achieve economic security

Part of the challenge of making ends meet on a fixed income is understanding where you can turn for information. NCOA has two trusted online tools that empower older adults to take control of their budget. BenefitsCheckUp® is a free, confidential tool to find benefits programs that help pay for medicine, food, utilities, health care, and more. EconomicCheckUp® provides trusted money management tools for older adults looking to improve their economic security through budgeting, employment and training, or debt and credit management.

Want more information about Hispanic economic security?

NCOA hosted a webinar on Sept. 18, which featured Abigail Zapote, Executive Director of Latinos for Secure Retirement, and Dr. Jan Mutchler, University of Massachusetts Boston, discussing trends and challenges related to Latino elder economic security.

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About Genevieve Waterman

Genevieve Waterman is a program associate in the Center for Benefits Access, where she works on the Economic Security Initiative, Savvy Saving Seniors®, and the Elder Index.