Wednesday, October 7, 2015         

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Kupuna need Social Security, AARP report says

By Alan Yonan Jr.


Financial security is a major concern for Hawaii's seniors, with 94 percent saying their Social Security checks are important to their monthly budget and nearly one-quarter saying it is their only source of income, an AARP survey released yesterday and Social Security Administration data showed.

AARP conducted a telephone survey of 402 Hawaii residents age 65 or older.

Older Hawaii residents have been hit by dwindling retirement savings, rising living costs and mounting consumer debt, the report concluded.

"The results of our survey tell us that our seniors' financial future is not so secure in Hawaii," said Barbara Kim Stanton, AARP Hawaii state director. "They're very concerned about the health of Social Security. It's a dramatic increase from earlier surveys."

Of those who receive Social Security benefits, 94 percent said their monthly checks were either very important or somewhat important to their budget, according to the survey.

One in four Social Security recipients in Hawaii say it is their only source of income, according to the Social Security Administration.

Without Social Security an estimated 47 percent of Hawaii's seniors would have incomes below the poverty line, Stanton said. Before the economic downturn that figure was estimated to be 28 percent, she said.


Politics of 65 and over in Hawaii:

Republican: 16%
Democrat: 33%
Independent: 37%

Source: AARP survey

The Social Security trust fund is projected to be exhausted by 2037.

The fund's trustees in Washington, D.C., said in their annual report released yesterday that, in the short run, the financial condition of the retirement program has worsened because of high unemployment, which has reduced payroll tax revenues. This year, for the first time, money flowing out of the program exceeds money flowing in.

The AARP survey also showed that six in 10 respondents said their cost of living has increased during the past 12 months.

Higher grocery prices were cited by 65 percent of those surveyed, while 61 percent said they were paying more for electricity. Just over half said the price they pay for gasoline increased.

More than one-third said their private retirement investments have lost value during the past 12 months.

"This is a growing concern for seniors. Unlike a younger person, they don't have as many years for their investments to bounce back. By the time the market corrects, it may be too late," Stanton said.

The telephone survey was conducted between Nov. 28 and Dec. 5. It had a 35 percent response rate and sampling error of plus or minus 4.9 percent, AARP said.

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