CAN YOU AFFORD TO RETIRE?

March 01, 2018 at 5:15 am

Are you saving for retirement? If not, you might want to start considering it: about one in five New Yorkers over the age of 65 is living in poverty. For our ongoing initiative “Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity and America,” we look at the growing problem with AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel and AARP Member Soossan Salmassi. So whether you’re already retired or have just begun to think about it, tune in to hear about the resources available to help you (and your parents and grandparents) make ends meet.

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

Transcript Print

>>> TONIGHT WE CONTINUE OUR GTI
CALLED CHASING THE DREAM,
POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN
AMERICA.
WE'RE TAKING AN IN DEPTH LOOKING
AT THE CONTEMPORARY STATE OF THE
AMERICAN DREAM, THE CHANGING
NATURE OF JOBS, THE BATTLING
MIDDLE CLASS, AND ECONOMIC
OPPORTUNITY.
WE'LL BE TAKING LOOK AT SOCIAL
PROGRAMS AND REFORMS, THOSE THAT
WORK AND THOSE THAT DON'T.
TONIGHT'S QUESTION, HOW ARE YOUR
PARENTS DOING?
HOW ABOUT YOUR GRANDPARENTS?
ARE THEY ALL MAKING ENDS MEET?
THINK OF THIS, THINK OF YOU AND
FOUR OF YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS,
GOT THAT IN YOUR MIND?
IF THINGS STAY THE SAME, 1 OUT
OF 4 OF YOU WILL BE IN POVERTY
BY THE TIME THEY'RE 65.
THE SITUATION HASN'T IMPROVED
MUCH OVER THE LAST EIGHT YEARS.
INDEED THE SITUATION HAS GROWN
SO TROUBLING THAT A 2015 AARP
SURVEY OF NEW YORK VOTERS SHOWED
A QUARTER OF 35 TO 65-YEAR-OLDS
WEREN'T CONFIDENT THEY WERE
GOING TO BE ABLE TO RETIRE.
AND 38% SAY THEY DON'T HAVE ANY
RETIREMENT AT ALL.
WE'RE ALSO JOINED BY ONE OF NEW
YORK'S AARP'S 2.6 MILLION
MEMBERS.
LADIES, THANK YOU BOTH FOR BEING
HERE WITH US.
AND I WANT TO START WITH YOU,
BETH.
THOSE NUMBERS WERE SHOCKING TO
ME.
GIVEN WHAT YOU DO, WERE YOU
SURPRISED TO SEE THOSE NUMBERS?
>> ABSOLUTELY NOT.
YOU KNOW, WE SURVEY OUR MEMBERS
BUT ALSO THE GENERAL PUBLIC ON A
REGULAR BASIS AND WE'RE SEEING
PEOPLE STRUGGLING.
SO YOU HAVE MENTIONED A NUMBER
OF PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTUALLY
LIVING IN POVERTY, ACCORDING TO
THE FEDERAL POVERTY NUMBERS.
BUT WE ALL KNOW LIVING IN NEW
YORK, IT'S A WHOLE DIFFERENT
BALL GAME.
>> I MEAN THAT NUMBER, $14,000 A
YEAR, IN NEW YORK CITY, THAT'S
NOT GETTING YOU ANYWHERE.
>> AND KEEP IN MIND THE AVERAGE
SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK IN NEW
YORK STATE IS UNDER $16,000 A
YEAR.
SO A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE
ACTUALLY, 23% OF NEW YORKERS WHO
ARE DEPENDENT ON SOCIAL SECURITY
ALONE.
SO THERE YOU GO, THE NUMBER'S
RIGHT THERE FOR YOU.
>> AND THERE'S ANOTHER GROUP,
AND YOU HAD MENTIONED TO ME, WE
WERE TALKING ABOUT ESSENTIALLY
THE NEAR POOR?
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
>> WHAT DOES THAT MEAN.
>> TO ME, THOSE ARE PEOPLE WHO
ARE LIVING JUST ABOVE THE
POVERTY LINE AND IN NEW YORK
CITY, YOU COULD BE IN A BUIIT OA
HIGHER RANGE, SLIGHTLY HIGHER
AND YOU WON'T HAVE MUCH
DISCRETIONARY MONEY IF ANY AT
ALL.
BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW HOW MUCH IT
COSTS TO LIVE HERE.
AND THAT'S WHY WE'RE LOOKING AT
AFFORDABLE HOUSING AS ONE OF THE
ISSUES, BECAUSE THAT'S YOUR
NUMBER ONE EXPENSE, RIGHT?
>> SUSAN, YOU WERE KIND ENOUGH
TO COME IN AND SHARE YOUR
THOUGHTS WITH US.
HIGH R HOW ARE YOU DOING
FINANCIALLY?
>> I FEEL THAT I'M A PRIME
EXAMPLE OF NOT BEING POOR, BUT
ACTUALLY LIVING POOR.
BECAUSE I WORKED OVER 25 YEARS
FOR A CITY AGENCY AND I WAS
COUNTING ON CITY PENSION AND IN
2010, I RETIRED WITH CITY
PENSION AND I WAS SO HAPPY THAT,
YOU KNOW, THE CITY PENSION IS
ABOUT 40% OF YOUR SALARY.
SO THAT IS SUBSTANTIAL.
BUT THEN I REALIZE THAT AFTER I
PAY FOR MY HOUSING, YOU KNOW,
THERE'S NOTHING LEFT FOR ME.
SO I WAITED UNTIL 62 AND I SAYS,
OH, SOCIAL SECURITY IS GOING TO
HELP ME.
THAT WASN'T MUCH OF A HELP.
BECAUSE MY MONEY WAS NOT GETTING
ANYTHING IN THE BANK.
AND THE INTEREST RATE DROPPED
TREMENDOUSLY TO 3%.
AND WHEN I WENT TO THE BANK AND
WANTED TO REFINANCE, IT WOULD
GIVE ME $400 IN MY POCKET,
SPENDING MONEY THAT I COULD
ACTUALLY SPEND ON FOOD AND
MEDICINE, THEY TOLD ME I'M ON A
FIXED INCOME, I DO NOT QUALIFY.
>> SO THE BANKS ARE NOT GOING TO
HELP YOU OUT FOR THAT.
WE LOOK AT AARP MEMBERS SUCH AS
SUSAN, AND OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE
WATCHING THIS NOW.
THEY'RE HEARING ABOUT THE DIRE
STRAITS AND THE PROBLEMS.
SO THEIR QUESTION, WHAT CAN WE
DO?
ARE THERE RESOURCES THERE?
IS THERE SOMETHING WE CAN LOOK
FORWARD TO GETTING BETTER?
>> WE'LL MAKE IT TWOFOLD.
NEW YORK DEPARTMENT FOR THE
AGING, CALL 311 AND YOU CAN GET
CONNECTED TO IT.
THERE ARE INNUMERABLE BENEFITS
AVAILABLE TO MANY PEOPLE, AND
THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE MIDDLE
CLASS OR WERE MIDDLE CLASS,
DON'T THINK OF BENEFITS AS BEING
FOR THEM.
IN FACT THEY ARE ELIGIBLE.
SO THERE IS A SENIOR BENEFIT FOR
HOUSING, YOU CAN GET YOUR RENT
FROZEN IF YOU QUALIFY, IT'S
CALLED SCRAPE.
YOU CAN GET HELP PAYING FOR YOUR
HEATING AND ELECTRICITY, IT'S
CALMED H.E.A.P.
AND YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED THE
LEVELS OF INCOME YOU CAN BE TO
QUALIFY FOR SOME OF THESE, IF
YOU GET MEDICARE OR MEDICAID,
THERE ARE WAYS THAT CAN HELP YOU
PAY YOUR MEDICARE BILLS.
THERE'S INNUMERABLE OTHERS.
THERE'S FOOD STAMPS.
PEOPLE RECOIL WHEN YOU SAY FOOD
STAMPS, THAT'S NOT FOR ME,
THAT'S FOR THEM.
>> BUT THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE THERE
FOR, YOU PAID MONEY IN ALL THOSE
YEARS.
>> AND IF YOU'RE LIVING IN A
MULTIPLE GENERATIONAL FAMILY,
THIS BRINGS MORE INTO THE INCOME
OF THE WHOLE HOUSEHOLD.
TALKING ABOUT THE AFFORDABLE
HOUSING ISSUE, THE MAYOR NOW HAS
THIS PROPOSAL, AND THERE ARE
2,000 SENIORS RIGHT NOW THAT ARE
ON THE WAITING LIST AND THE WAY
THE WAITING LISTS WERE
PROJECTED, BY THE TIME THEY'RE
ELIGIBLE, THERE'S A GOOD CHANCE
THEY WON'T BE LIVING ANY LONGER,
THAT'S HOW LONG THE WAITING
LISTS ARE .
>> IT'S GOOD TO KNOW THERE ARE
PROGRAMS OUT THERE THAT PEOPLE
CAN LOOK FOR.
AND SO THANK YOU FOR COMING AND
PUTTING A PERSONAL FACE ON THIS.
THIS IS NOT A PROBLEM FOR PEOPLE
WHO NEVER WORKED THEIR WHOLE
LIVES, THIS IS A PROBLEM THAT
HAVE WORKED THEIR WHOLE LIVES.
THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US.
TO WATCH MORE CHASING THE DREAM
STORIES ON POVERTY AND
OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA.
VISIT CHASING THE DREAM
PROJECT.ORG.