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Insecure Retirement

Hanging By a Thread

African American, Latino seniors more likely to experience economic insecurity

Facts and Recommendations

According to the Office of the Census, there are some 36 million retirees in the United States, of which 3 million are of Hispanic descent and 3.2 million are African American. The study concludes that 1.6 million of those African Americans and 1.7 million of the Latinos struggle to cover their health care and other basic expenses each month.

"My health is worse than when I retired four years ago, and my expenses have increased, even though I have government coverage," says Julio Velázquez, 72, a native of Venezuela who worked as a private guard at a national security firm all his life before retiring to Miami. Velázquez lives alone, and his two children visit him every week. Others, however, say they are feeling less stress than before. One is Joseph Meredith, an African American retiree who used to work as an equipment technician at a local hospital. Meredith, 74, lives with his wife, who is also retired. "I don't have much money, but I'm more relaxed now, with my family, my grandchildren," says Meredith, who enjoys walking his dog around the Miami retirement community where he lives.

The study, which drew on the results of nationwide polls, ended with a set of recommendations meant to ensure that people who worked all their lives have the means to enjoy the kind of retirement they deserve.

It recommends, among other things, strengthening Social Security, supporting senior assistance programs, providing incentives for employer-funded pension programs and establishing universal savings plans.

Tatjana Meschede hopes the study helps to focus the national debate. "I would urge President [Barack] Obama to first and foremost strengthen Social Security," she said. "And I would call on him to boost opportunities for all people throughout their lifespan so that they may save for retirement, something that is not equally accessible to everyone at this time."

For further questions or comments please feel free to contact IASP Research Director Tatjana Meschede: meschede@brandeis.edu, visit the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) website or call 781-736-8685.

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