Poor and Elderly: The 5 Worst States to Grow Old In

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Worst States to grow old inFor anybody who reads a newspaper, watches TV news or knows a retiree, it should come as no surprise that it's a tough time to be growing old in America. But the situation is worse than you probably realize: According to a recent report, on average, if government benefits were taken out of the equation, elderly Americans would have significantly less income than they'd need to survive. And with a host of politicians proposing to scale back social programs, that gap is poised to become even more severe.

Doing Without: Economic Insecurity and Older Americans, a report released on March 1, uses the "Elder Index" -- an analysis of the average expenses of an elder household -- to gauge economic insecurity. Nationwide, the average income for an elderly household, minus government benefits, falls $5,228 short of its expenses -- about 28% of the average household budget.

But, while things are tough for the elderly across the country, they vary widely from state to state. In Massachusetts, for example, elderly households average a $10,248 yearly income shortfall -- almost 40% of their average expenses. By comparison, elderly households in Alaska almost break even -- on average, they fall short by just $1,068 per year, or about 4% of their total costs.

By and large, the Northeast and Southeast -- both of which tend to have higher population density and higher general cost of living -- are harder places to grow old. On the flip side, the golden years tend to be easier, relatively speaking, in states with lower population densities and lower costs of living -- think Alaska, Montana and Utah.

So how do elderly households fill the gap between the money they need and the money they bring in? For many, the answer is Medicare and Social Security. According to Wider Opportunities for Women, the group that released the report, 25% of elderly households rely on Social Security for 98% or more of their household income. Put another way, the average household with at least one resident aged 65 or older derives 64.8% of its income from Social Security.

With this in mind, it's hardly surprising that spending on the elderly accounts for a massive portion of the federal budget. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 53% of all money spent on entitlements in 2010 went to elderly households -- $519 billion on Medicare and $689 billion on Social Security.

That's a lot of money. On the other hand, in many elderly households, these federal programs are all that is keeping the wolves from the door. Bold pronouncements aside, the federal government -- and the politicians who hope to steer it -- have a complex problem to solve, and it won't be fixed by broad claims about entitlements that are "systematically destroying the work ethic" of Americans.

(A chart ranking all 50 states and the District of Columbia appears after the gallery)





Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

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bud

If social security is in such a bad shape, why did they take 2 % less out of your wages for the last 2 years and are doing it another year?

March 23 2012 at 11:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peaches

Pamiss45 said everything I wanted to say. Just a few adjustments I started working 1965 and was a teacher. My son is actually paying 20 years now and never had kids and never will. My sister is 64 this year, she broke her back in a car accident last year when she was hit by a school bus. She has been denied disability 3 times now, so they told her she should get a lawyer. She has worked and paid taxes since she was 18. But they will give disability to all these young people who never worked a day in their life and there is really nothing wrong with them but laziness. She applied for food stamps and they gave her $34 a month to live on. I know a 20 year old who gets $250 a month because she had a baby and is not married and the baby gets $250 a month. What a world we live in, what a screwed up government we have. When will the people learn to vote these terrible officials out of office? The economy we are in and they are going to increase Medicare Insurance Premiums, and make people pay a sales tax if they sell their home. Of course they are they make good money and they don't care about the working people at all. Make them bleed more and more no make them hemorrhage!

March 12 2012 at 8:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kathleen......

Why do people who are disabled and on SSDI/ retierment disablity social security get the bum rap? You work all of your adult life to find out you have a disability making you unable to continue working when you hit your 50's and all of that money you put toward your Social Security for when you reach retierment age you will never see again! Is that fair to rip people off like myself that is only 60 and became totaly unable to work when I was in my early 50's and not getting my full Social Security at my retierment age ? Our goverment is curupped!!!! I work all my adult life for what, to get crap that now leaves me at the poverty level. What happen to the land of the GOOD, the FREE and the land that should treat its US born citizens with respect?

March 09 2012 at 4:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Kathleen......

Why do people who are disabled and on SSDI/ retierment disablity social security get the bum rap? You work all of your adult life to find out you have a disability making you unable to continue working when you hit your 50's and all of that money you put toward your Social Security for when you reach retierment age you will never see again! Is that fair to rip people off like myself that is only 60 and became totaly unable to work when I was in my early 50's and not getting my full Social Security at my retierment age ? Our goverment is curupped!!!! I work all my adult life for what, to get crap that now leaves me at the poverty level. What happen to the land of the GOOD, the FREE and the land that should treat its US born citizens with respect? People of color are getting better FREE benifits and have not put their whole live's heart and soul into a work career. NOT RIGHT! THIS IS NOT THE AMERICAN WAY THAT I GREW UP WITH. IF THE BABY BOOMERS ARE HAVING A TOUGH TIME RIGHT NOW TO HAVE ANY RETIREMENT FUNDS, WHAT ARE THE NEXT GENERATIONS OF KIDS GOING TO GROW UP WITH? We need to think long and hard about what is happening to AMERICA and how AMERICAN BORN citizens are fighting for all they have to survive.

March 09 2012 at 4:11 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Kathleen......

Why do people who are disabled and on SSDI/ retierment disablity social security get the bum rap? You work all of your adult life to find out you have a disability making you unable to continue working when you hit your 50's and all of that money you put toward your Social Security for when you reach retierment age you will never see again! Is that fair to rip people off like myself that is only 60 and became totaly unable to work when I was in my early 50's and not getting my full Social Security at my retierment age ? Our goverment is curupped!!!! I work all my adult life for what, to get crap that now leaves me at the poverty level. What happen to the land of the GOOD, the FREE and the land that should treat its US born citizens with respect? People of color are getting better FREE benifits and have not put their whole live's heart and soul into a work career. NOT RIGHT! THIS IS NOT THE AMERICAN WAY THAT I GREW UP WITH. IF THE BABY BOOMERS ARE HAVING A TOUGH TIME RIGHT NOW TO HAVE ANY RETIREMENT FUNDS, WHAT ARE THE NEXT GENERATIONS OF KIDS GOING TO GROW UP WITH? We need to think long and hard about what is happening to AMERICA and how AMERICAN BORN citizens are fighting for all they have to survive.

March 09 2012 at 4:08 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Robert

www.snopes.com/politics/taxes/realestate.asp

To bearcatkm......If you're going to post information please check the facts (above link) so people have the correct info and not just you political spin. I'm sure snopes.com can also help with the medicare premium increases also. Hope this helps folks. Do your homework, check the facts, keep yourselves educated so you can make good decisions. That includes you too bearcatkm.

March 08 2012 at 11:07 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Robert's comment
democracks0

SNOPES......FACTS??? LMAO!!!

March 08 2012 at 1:20 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
bearcatkm

What is in Obamacare bill?
EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW, NOT ONLY SENIORS.
Look carefully at the 2014 rate compared to the 2013 rate.
For those of you who are on Medicare, read the following. It's short, but important and you probably haven't heard about it in the Marxist liberal media."The per person Medicare Insurance Premium will increase from the present Monthly Fee of
$96.40, rising to:
$104.20 in 2012
$120.20 in 2013
And
$247.00 in 2014."

If you own a home, Please read this.
I am very pleased we aren't the only ones who know about this ploy to steal billions from unsuspecting homeowners. How many REALTORS do you think will vote Democratic in 2012?
Did you know that if you sell your house after 2012 you will pay a 3.8% sales tax on it? That's $3,800 on a $100,000 home, etc. When did this happen? It's in the health care bill and goes into effect in 2013.
If you sell a $400,000 home, there will be a $15,200 tax.
And this is not all of the bill.

March 08 2012 at 8:28 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
bearcatkm

What is in Obamacare bill?
EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW, NOT ONLY SENIORS.
Look carefully at the 2014 rate compared to the 2013 rate.
For those of you who are on Medicare, read the following. It's short, but important and you probably haven't heard about it in the Marxist liberal media."The per person Medicare Insurance Premium will increase from the present Monthly Fee of
$96.40, rising to:
$104.20 in 2012
$120.20 in 2013
And
$247.00 in 2014."

If you own a home, Please read this.
I am very pleased we aren't the only ones who know about this ploy to steal billions from unsuspecting homeowners. How many REALTORS do you think will vote Democratic in 2012?
Did you know that if you sell your house after 2012 you will pay a 3.8% sales tax on it? That's $3,800 on a $100,000 home, etc. When did this happen? It's in the health care bill and goes into effect in 2013.
If you sell a $400,000 home, there will be a $15,200 tax.
And this is not all of the bill.

March 08 2012 at 8:26 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
tomshovel

I worked in NYC trades union for 30 years and the union saved for my retirement. Now I am retired and living very well. God bless the AFL-CIO.

March 07 2012 at 5:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pamiss45

When I was working starting in 1966 as a RN I made $375.00/month before taxes were taken out. There was no way to save for retirement. Also, The special retirement programs did not come in to being until the 70's and 80's. Vesting tenure was not changed from 10 years to 5 years until the late 70's so a lot of women lost vesting in pension plans because they married and they were the ones to switch jobs. When social security was dreamed up the average life span was 57 years so what does that tell you about social security? It was really devised to never be collected.. Social security has been used by the politicians for everything but social security. And what about the older people who worked for years and when a plant or factory closed their pensions were not there. That happened to my dad with Ford Motor Company in Chester, PA. The government allowed them to ljust forget about those men who had worked for years. They were left pensionless. Also, If you are injured and collect a commutation under worker's compensation, if you apply for SSDisability, they take the money you have used to support yourself for years when you apply and are awarded SSDisability. The answer is that the politicians are using it and not paying into it!!! As far as the states, they could care less about the elderly. The only people who get entitlements are the convicts, the drug addicts, the illegals, and politicians. The person who owns a home and has never had children is made to pay over 40 years for school taxes even though our parents or we ourselves paid for our further education. Today, kids are going to college for years and years on the tax payers money.

March 07 2012 at 5:39 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply