( from Politico)Social Security could be insolvent by the end of this decade because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to some new estimates, creating new pressure for Congress to fix the troubled program after decades of inaction.
The last official government projection had the program running out of money by 2035. But some outside economists are looking at the trends and moving up the date when the program starts paying out more than it takes in: Tens of millions of workers are suddenly unemployed and not paying into the government account that funds benefits for retired workers. At the same time, a flood of older Americans who’ve lost jobs are expected to start drawing benefits as soon as they’re eligible.
Note: Senior advocacy groups including the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans and New York StateWide Senior Action Council want to lift the earnings cap on Social Security so that payroll taxes are not ended when a worker reaches an annual earnings of $137,000. Former Vice President Joseph Biden is proposing that taxes be resumed on earnings over $400,000. The earnings cap had been pegged to cover 90% of earned income but that has dropped to 83% according to Politico so some upward adjustment of the earnings cap is needed just to preserve the intended financing for Social Security.
In America’s nursing homes, outbreaks grow.
NY Times report – March 25
Across the country, a pattern has played out with tragic consistency: Someone gets sick in a nursing home. Soon, several residents and employees have the coronavirus.
Older people and those with underlying health problems are most vulnerable to Covid-19, making the consequences of a nursing home outbreak especially devastating. At least 35 deaths have been linked to an outbreak at the Life Care nursing facility in Kirkland, Wash. Many of the victims were in their 80s or 90s.
In New Orleans and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., multiple deaths have been tied to senior centers. In Wisconsin, the National Guard was sent to help after a man died in a memory care unit and others were infected. Similar outbreaks have been reported in Ohio, in Colorado and in Bellingham, Wash., where 26 residents and six staff members at a nursing and rehabilitation center had been infected by Sunday.
Note: Family and visitors are not allowed to visit at this time, causing further stress and worry for families.
This should tell us all we need to know about the danger for older persons in New York State. Age breakdown of New York State 114 coronavirus deaths.
98 are 60+,
51 are 80+
90+: 15 people
80-89: 36 people
70-79: 29 people
60-69: 18 people
50-59: 11 people
40-49: 5 people
Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo gave some good news Monday morning about those stepping up in this crisis. His office put out the call for retired health professionals to volunteer to help active employees who are pushed to the limit So far, over 30,000 have signed up to help on the state Department of Health’s website. It’s a remarkable testament to the power of retirees to help communities, especially at critical times like this.
It is not just for-profit businesses that are losing money and customers. Senior services organizations face the possibility of a loss of funds because they have contracts requiring them to provide direct services to older persons. However, they can’t do that at this time since many services have been suspended especially to provide transportation, non-medical chore services or adult day care or socialization at senior centers. Many senior providers are continuing to provide services by phone with re-assurance calls or home delivered meals but there is going to have to be consideration of adjusting contracts or the very nonprofits needed to help older people will be in facing major financial shortfalls.
Click on the link Michael Burgess, former Director, NY State Office for the Aging interviewed by Cynthia Pooler of Focus on Albany for internet and local radio station
Older persons are most at risk of serious illness from the coronavirus. The first death in New York State is an 82 year old woman with emphysema. Though most will not get the virus, our way of life including senior services programs are being disrupted. Congregate meal programs at local sites are closing with meals offered at home if needed. We are fortunate that so many older persons are volunteers in senior services programs but many are now calling in to say they are not going to volunteer in the short term during this crisis. Visitation at hospitals, nursing homes and other senior facilities is being sharply curtailed. So, it’s up to all of us to help older friends, neighbors and relatives through watching out for them, re-assurance phone calls, picking up medicine and groceries for them if needed and more.
The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation which was formed from the assets of the non- profit, Catholic-related Fidelis Insurance company when it was sold and privatized has announced the first round of its health care grants totaling about $150 million funding about 500 projects statewide. $18 million was given to projects directly supporting aging projects.
Among the many interesting grants for aging services in the community are:
$340,000 to Mercy Care for the Adirondacks for its Age Friendly Communities Initiative,
$75,321 to Lifespan in Rochester for its Finger Lakes Healthcare Elder Justice Specialist Project;
$1 million to the Jewish Association of Services in New York City for its Caring Link program to help seniors with referrals and support to avoid isolation
$373,076 to Catholic Charities of the Albany Diocese for its Aging Life Care Services Project.
$1,750,000 ArchCare PACE programs
$79,623 to Interfaith Works of Central New York for its Senior Services One to One Program
$117,396 to the Medicare Rights Center for its benefits enrollment for low income persons
$175,000 to St. Peters Hospital Foundation, Albany for Improving the Pathway to Healing: Connecting Older, Vulnerable Individuals to Spiritual ResourcesLike
The Center for an Urban Future joined AARP for a conference in Albany on January 21 and provided information on New York’s growing 65+ population. In the 2007-2017 ten year period, the 65+ population rose 26% by 647,045 persons while the under 65 population dropped 1% by 95,375. Seniors 65+ now were 16% of the state’s population in 2017 versus 13% ten years earlier. There were 444,005 persons 85+ in 2017 versus 353,299 in 2007.