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San Diego Seniors Struggling To Make Ends Meet

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A new report shows San Diego County seniors have to earn twice as much as the federal poverty level to make ends meet.

— A new report shows San Diego County seniors have to earn twice as much as the federal poverty level to make ends meet.

Special Feature San Diego County Elder Economic Index

Elder Index data calculated by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research on behalf of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development shows that the cost of living for San Diego County seniors far outpaces the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPL).

According to the Elder Index from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, seniors who rent a one-bedroom apartment in San Diego County need an income of at least $23,434 a year for basic necessities like food, housing, health care and transportation. More than 40 percent of seniors in San Diego County are living on incomes below that level, according to the report.

The standard for determining income eligibility for public assistance programs is the Federal Poverty Level, which is $10,830 a year.

Susan Smith, co-author of the report and Director of the California Elder Economic Security Initiative, said the poverty line measurement is inadequate.

"We have a huge number of older adults whose income might be a dollar over the poverty line, but far below what they need to get by," said Smith. In San Diego, that’s more than 100,000 seniors, she said.

Smith said many seniors don’t qualify for public and private support because the poverty line is used as a gatekeeper.

"If your income is below this amount than you can get access, but if your income is above this amount, then you cannot,” Smith explained.

Smith said some San Diego County organizations, including the Senior Community Centers are using the Elder Index to determine membership costs.

Smith said she's urging lawmakers to adopt the index and reevaluate the needs of seniors across the state.

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