July 17, 2015

Updated Analysis of National and State Elderly Poverty Rates

A new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) issue brief presents national and state poverty rates for Americans ages 65 and older, based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s official and supplemental poverty measures. The supplemental poverty measure (SPM) is generally considered to be more accurate than the official poverty measure because it considers factors such as seniors’ (1) available financial resources, (2) in-kind benefits (e.g., food stamps), (3) out-of-pocket medical spending, and (4) geographic variations in housing expenses, among others.

KFF’s key findings include, among other things:

• Approximately 45% of seniors had incomes below twice the SPM’s poverty thresholds in 2013, compared to 33% under the official poverty measure.

• The percentage of seniors living in poverty is larger in every state under the SPM than under the official poverty measure, and at least twice as large in nine states, including Connecticut (as well as California, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, and New Jersey).

• In 2013, elderly women experienced a higher poverty rate than elderly men under both the official and supplemental poverty measures.