Thank you Madame Chairwoman, for this opportunity to speak on behalf of more than 7.2 million senior citizens I am proud to represent as the Chairman of the 60 Plus Association, as well as on behalf of the interests of the more than 70% of elderly over the age of 65 living on fixed incomes.
The common phrase of seniors living on fixed incomes is no longer true — the reality is, seniors are living on diminishing incomes; rapidly diminishing incomes. Social Security cost of living increases have added up to a meager 8% since 2009, while the cost of medical care can increase 8% in a single year. Seniors are paying much more to light their homes, cook their food, and keep warm, and food prices are soaring. A few examples, since 2009 the cost of beef has risen 35%, dairy products are up 16%, seafood is up 20%, and most produce staples are up in the double digits.
It was not supposed to be this way — seniors worked their entire lives, raised their families, saved for retirement and played by the rules. Many lost a great deal of their savings in the crash of 2008, and their remaining savings and investments are of no help, with rates of return barely over that of the mattress they sleep on. A Federal Reserve policy that eases restrictions on interest rates, allowing struggling seniors to earn even a few extra dollars from their savings and investments would be a true God send. To the elderly, such a policy could be the difference in their very survival.
Madame Chairwoman, I speak to thousands of seniors every year, at events town halls, bus tours, or they contact me and tell me how frightened they are of facing their remaining days — if they will be able to pay for their prescriptions, put food on the table, or make it through another year. Others are proud and strong – horrified they may become a burden to their own children.
Millions of seniors are in a serious crisis — they are hurting and frightened for their lives. They are not just statistics, they are real people, and they are looking to you to provide them the small bit of help that would mean more to them than you may ever know. Thank you.