Editor’s note: The following is a continuation of Margaret Brackett’s column that ran May 28 in The Newberry Observer.
Walton McLeod, state representative for House District 40, is our next spokesperson. He is also board member, Newberry Council on Aging, and vice chairman of the State Joint Committee on Aging.
He reports on the impact of the Vulnerable Adult Guardian Ad Litem Program which is being enacted by the state legislature this week. Senate Bill S. 764 has passed the Senate and is on the House calendar this week to receive second reading.
The Vulnerable Adult Guardian Ad Litem would be similar to the Guardian Ad Litem Program for children, presently in operation in the family court. The Office on Aging would recruit, train and supervise volunteers to serve as court-appointed guardians for vulnerable adults in abuse, neglect and exploitation cases in the family court.
The Office on Aging would be able to intervene by filing a petition in family court to relieve the guardian ad litem when there is misconduct, incompetence, conflict of interest, etc. on the part of the guardian ad litem.
What does the future look like for South Carolina’s senior citizen population?
Because of the huge number of baby boomers who will reach age 65, South Carolina’s senior citizen population is projected to double by year 2030 from its present approximately 900,000 seniors to approximately 1.8 million seniors. This increase in senior’s population is going to put a huge burden on the state budget.
Around 80 percent of all persons residing in nursing homes in SC are receiving Medicaid benefits. More than one-third of seniors live on Social Security alone, some of whom receive a payment of less than $800 per month.
About 11.5 percent of our state’s seniors live in poverty, which is defined as having income of $11,490 or less. So, although the SC Medicaid program covers the aged, blind and disabled, it is not available to persons with income above the federal poverty level of $11,490 per year. (SC AARP, Dec 2013 bulletin)
About 200,000 people in SC fall into the health care coverage gap. About 25% of these persons are age 50 to 64. Their income is too much for Medicaid; too little for the insurance marketplace; and they are left out of any kind of health care coverage. (AARP 2013 Bulletin)
Statics’ for senior citizens who must live on less income after reaching age 65 are:
Over one-third of SC seniors live on Social Security alone.
In SC, year 2012, the median household income for persons age 45 to 64 was $50,521. Yet for persons age 65 and older, in SC for year 2012, the median household income
was only $34,541. Thus, as we advance in years, our income is reduced and it is much more difficult to sustain independence and self-sufficiency.
What is the financial impact of Social Security on South Carolina’s economy?
Each year, about 986,000 South Carolinians receive retirement benefits, survivor’s benefits, or disability benefits from Social Security in the amount of $13.4 billion dollars. This money is spent in a variety of ways, some part of it for nursing care, but it is also spent on groceries, housing, transportation, and clothing, usually in the recipient’s local community. Businesses use this money to purchase more goods and services, amplifying the economic impact of month Social Security benefits. (SC AARP Bulletin 2013)
“We do ourselves a disservice when we make old age something to b e feared. Life is not a resource to be used up, so that the older we get, the less we have left. Life is the accumulation of wisdom, love and experience of people encountered and obstacles overcome. The longer we live, the more life we possess.” (Rabbi Harold Kushner)