Elder Economic Security Commission Releases Report of Recommendations



BOSTON –The Elder Economic Security Commission released its final report today, including several policy recommendations that would reduce the risk of economic hardship for older adults in Massachusetts. The Commission issued recommendations after examining the economic risk of current and future older Massachusetts residents. In developing the report, the Commission was charged with:


· Assessing older adults’ current level of economic security

· Identifying policies and programs currently in place to assist older adults

· Assessing the needs of state and local programming to determine what additional funding is needed to increase elder economic security

· Considering best practices to enhance elder economic security


The recommendations in this report are wide-ranging, from immediate changes that could be made to current policies, to more elaborate programmatic changes implementing new policies. Included in the report are two broad policy recommendations stating that Massachusetts should adopt the Elder Economic Security Standard Index (Elder Index) as a benchmark for determining the economic needs of older adults in Massachusetts and that all state agencies dealing with older individuals should review their practices, procedures, and notices to comply with the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission’s set of best practices.


The Commission made further specific recommendations regarding policies relative to income, housing, healthcare, and long-term services and supports. The recommendations included: increase access and development of affordable housing; improve overall housing stability among seniors in the state by offering more outreach assistance with homeownership and property tax deferral programs; and, improve older adults’ access to healthcare and long-term services and supports by adjusting eligibility standards and expanding support services, including allowing spouses to be paid caregivers.


“Across the Commonwealth and the greater United States, the number of “baby-boomers” age 65 and older will be hitting its peak over the next 15 years. The recommendations in this report address many of the economic hardships that older adults face when reaching this point in their lives,” said Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs and the Elder Economic Security Commission. “I’m so proud of the Commission’s work because it aims to help one of the most vulnerable populations in our state. It is my hope that we see many critical older adult-focused policies considered and implemented, including allowing spouses as paid caregivers.”


Recent studies suggest that Massachusetts older adults are among the most economically insecure in the nation. Using the Elder Index, a spring 2014 analysis showed that 63% of the state’s retired elder households lacked the income required to meet the costs of their basic daily needs. 81% of African-American senior households and 91% of Hispanic senior households have incomes insufficient to meet their daily needs.


Massachusetts elders are an increasing proportion of the state’s population, with the elder population expected to rise dramatically between 2010 and 2030. Persons 65 or older accounted for 14% of the state’s population in 2010. It is expected to increase to 17% of the population in 2020 and to 21% by 2030. Younger cohorts are projected to decrease between 2010 and 2030. 


“AARP Massachusetts represents 800,000 members, many of whom are struggling with the same income, housing, health care, and long-term care affordability issues identified in this report,” said Michael Festa, State Director of AARP Massachusetts. “We commend the Elder Economic Security Commission’s work, and strongly support not only the establishment of an economic security benchmark to identify gaps between income and expenses for our senior population, but also the Commission’s policy and program recommendations, which will go a long way to protect the financial stability of our elder population.”


The Commission was established in 2013 as part of the FY’14 state budget and was tasked with examining strategies to increase economic security for older adults and enable older residents to remain in the Commonwealth and in their communities. The Commission includes representatives from the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs; Executive Office of Elder Affairs; Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation; Mass Association of Home Care Programs; AARP Massachusetts; Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts & New Hampshire; Massachusetts Senior Action Council; Mass Association of Elder Americans; and the Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston. Also included on the Commission were legal services attorneys specializing in elder law and four gubernatorial appointees.


An electronic version of the report is available online at https://malegislature.gov/Reports.

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