Friday, March 27, 2009

MinnEESI Legislative Tracking

The Minnesota Elder Economic Security Initiative tracks a large number of bills with the help of experts in several organizations for elders. Three important bills were recently brought to our attention.

HF 528, SF 489: Reverse mortgage provisions modifications

HF 618, SF 412: Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act

HF 818, SF 758: Vulnerable Adult Justice Act

By Marie Nelson

Thank you to our new endorsers!

Financial Wellness for You, LLC and Pelican Rapids OAKS Living At Home/Block Nurse Program adopted the following language to endorse the Minnesota Elder Index: "We support the use of the Elder Economic Security Index as a new tool to ensure that future planning and policies are based on the true costs of shelter, food, transportation and health care, so that Minnesota elders can continue to live with dignity in their own homes and communities."

Thank you for endorsing this new cost-of-living tool!

By Marie Nelson

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Alzheimer's cost triple that of other elderly

The Associated Press recently ran an article on the cost of caregiving for elders with Alzheimer's Disease.

The article states: "The
health care costs of Alzheimer's disease patients are more than triple those of other older people, and that doesn't even include the billions of hours of unpaid care from family members, a new report suggests." For the full article, click here.

One of the Minnesota Elder Economic Security Initiative's goals is to increase support for family caregivers. One of our policy recommendations states: "Reform and redefine health care and 'long-term care' to increase emphasis on wellness and prevention. Increase access to care provided in the elder's own home and community and increase support for family caregivers." For more information on our policy recommendations, visit the Wider Opportunities for Women website.

Approximately 5.3 million people have Alzheimer's, with another half million expected to be diagnosed next year according to the Alzheimer's Association.

By Marie Nelson

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

As the oldest can't retire, the newest can't get hired.

An article from the St. Paul Pioneer Press highlighted a unique economic situation: many of our oldest workers cannot retire and many of our newest workers cannot get hired. These two groups of employees do not typically face similar economic challenges. One economist featured in the article suggested: "With unemployment at a 26-year high and many older workers chasing entry-level jobs like those they held a half-century ago, 70 has become the new 20."

Some of the elders featured in the article are facing a difficult job search due to their advanced age. It is the position of the Minnesota Elder Economic Security Initiative that we should "encourage elders who choose to improve their economic status by remaining in the workforce after age 65. Encourage employers to provide flexible, non-traditional work configurations and other features helpful to all employees." For more information on that policy position, and others, click here.

By Marie Nelson

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We're on Facebook!

Join MinnEESI's Facebook group! You can find us by searching "Minnesota Elder Economic Security Initiative" in the search feature within Facebook. You can join our group if you're a Facebook member, but cannot view or join unless you are a member. Please "friend" us and invite others!

By Marie Nelson

Friday, March 20, 2009

Be a leader: Endorse the Elder Index

The following organizations have endorsed MinnEESI's Elder Index. They have adopted the following language: "We support the use of the Elder Economic Security Index as a new tool to ensure that future planning and policies are based on the true cost of shelter, food, transportation, and health care, so that Minnesotans can continue to live with dignity in their own homes and communities."

Don't miss your opportunity to be a leader in the aging community be endorsing the Elder Index. To endorse or for more information on how your endorsement might be used, please contact Marie Nelson, project coordinator, at or 651-228-0338.

By Marie Nelson

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stimulus money released to aid Minnesota seniors

The following article was published on the KARE-11 website.

WASHINGTON - Many Minnesota seniors should benefit from the latest rollout of federal economic stimulus money, which includes more than $1.5 million for nutrition programs in the state.

Vice President Joe Biden announced the funding Wednesday on the eve of his visit to St. Cloud to preside over a town hall meeting by the Middle Class Task Force.

The money is part of $100 million that the Department of Health and Human Services is handing out for nutrition services at senior centers and community centers, home delivered meals to seniors and Native American nutrition programs.

"Today, more senior citizens are in need, but the programs they depend on are on the brink of reducing their services or closing down," Biden said in a statement. "The Recovery Act will help ensure older Americans are not forced to choose between paying bills and buying food."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, applauded the funding. She said it will bolster the Meals on Wheels program, which is important to seniors hard hit by the recession. "Shrinking budgets and rising transportation costs are making it hard for seniors to get the nutritious meals they need," Klobuchar said. "These funds will help our senior citizens by preventing drastic cuts to essential programs."

By Marie Nelson

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


AARP created a contest called U@50 that challenged people between the ages of 18 and 30 to submit a video on what they expect life to be like at age 50. The runner-up, called "Lost Generation," recently crossed MinnEESI's path and we were impressed. You can view it below and please leave a comment.

By Marie Nelson

Eight things to know about Minnesota Community Action Partnership

The Minnesota Community Action Partnership is one of five partners on the MinnEESI project. Their mission statement is: "To remove obstacles and solve problems that block the achievement of self-sufficiency. In order to reduce poverty in its community, a Community Action Agency works to better focus available local, state, private and federal resources to assist low income individuals and families to acquire useful skills and knowledge, gain access to new opportunities and achieve economic self-sufficiency."

Here are eight other things to know about MinnCAP:

1) MinnCAP is a statewide network of 28 community-based anti-poverty agencies serving all 87 counties.

2) MinnCAP helps people move up in their career ladder through job training, job search, and career development services.

3) MinnCAP keeps people warm and dry through energy assistance and weatherization services.

4) MinnCAP helps families and seniors put food on the table through food shelves and nutrition programs.

5) MinnCAP gives young children a healthy start through WIC, Head Start, crisis nursery, and child care programs.

6) MinnCAP helps in time of crisis, through emergency housing and financial assistance, counseling, and crisis nursery services.

7) MinnCAP advocates for policy solutions that eliminate poverty in Minnesota.

8) Many people are more familiar with the names of the programs Community Action Agencies deliver than the name of their local Community Action Agency. Each local Community Action Agency provides a unique combination of programming to meet locally determined objectives. Well known programs include:
  • Energy Assistance
  • Weatherization & Energyc Conservation
  • Head Start Programs
  • Congregate Dining and Meals on Wheels
  • Senior Independent Living Services
  • Retired Senior Volunteer Program
  • Food Support Program
  • Various Family Nutrition Programs
MinnCAP is represented to MinnEESI by Pam Johnson.

By Marie Nelson

Advocacy Opportunity: Renter's Credit

As a result of calculating information for the Elder Index, MinnEESI learned that housing costs are the most challenging budget item for elders in Minnesota (if they are in good health).

The renter's property tax refund program is a state-paid refund that provides tax relief to renters whose rent and "implicit property taxes" are high relative to their incomes. "Rent constituting property taxes" is assumed to equal 19 percent of rent paid. If that rent constituting property tax exceeds a threshold percentage of income, the refund equals a percentage of the tax over the threshold, up to a maximum amount. As income increases:
  • the threshold percentage increases,
  • the share of tax over the threshold that the taxpayer must pay increases, and
  • the maximum refund decreases.
Nan Madden, Director of the Minnesota Budget Project, provided us with the following information:

The Renters' Credit provides a tax refund to nearly 274,000 low- and moderate-income Minnesota households whose property taxes make up a large share of their incomes. Seniors and persons with disabilities make up 28% of all Renters' Credit recipients.

Governor Pawlenty's budget includes a 27% cut to the Renters' Credit. At a time when the state faces a serious economic downturn and a significant lack of affordable housing, renters in Minnesota cannot afford this cut.

Many Minnesotans use the Renters' Credit to meet basic needs such as delayed dental care, school clothes and supplies, car repairs, bills and prescription drugs. The Governor's proposed cuts reduce the Renters' Credit by $51 million a year - that's $51 million less being spent in our local communities.

We need to stop asking our most vulnerable Minnesotans to bear the costs
of balancing the state's budget. What can you do?
By Marie Nelson

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

10 Things to know about the Minnesota Women's Consortium

The Minnesota Elder Economic Security Initiative is a program by the Minnesota Women's Consortium (MWC). The mission of the MWC is to achieve equality and justice for all women and girls by connecting everyone who shares those goals.

Here are 10 other things to know about the MWC:

1) The Consortium is the largest women-supporting network in the U.S. We have 175 member organizations, 2,000 individuals and reach 10,000 people biweekly.

2) Consortium member groups are incredibly diverse in strategies and more. 30 groups work on health care issues, 15 are women's centers or women's studies programs on college campuses, 10 are in the music and arts, nine groups represent immigrants and women of color, seven groups focus on international issues, eight are church groups, 12 groups are outside of the Twin Cities, 11 are coalitions, three are big unions, 10 are statewide groups with multiple charters, and we have a professional football and basketball team, as well as the Minnesota State Patrol.

3) The Consortium co-owns and shares with many in the Minnesota Women's Building in St. Paul.

4) We put on eight events per year. This includes Celebration in January, Capitol events for presidents, girls and women, three membership meetings per year, the Feminist Film Festival for Women's Equality Week in August, and a semi-annual all-issues conference in the fall.

5) The Consortium staff of five rages in age 25 to 62.

6) We won the Women's Press Changemaker Award in 2007 and the Ann Bancroft Foundation Dream-Maker Award in 2008.

7) The Consortium is the only group in the country that traces its policy lineage back to the only government-funded U.S. women's meeting ever: Houston, Texas, in 1977. The Consortium was created in 1980 so we are almost 30 years old.

8) We have not lobbied in all that time, though we have been able to share the action alerts of our member groups. This will probably change in the next month!

9) Two special projects the Consortium is currently growing are the Latinas Association and MinnEESI.

10) We have been the catalyst for many special projects, new organizations, passing laws, and more -- but the most important thing is we are always open to new ideas and people.

By Marie Nelson

The Impact of Race/Ethnicity on Social Security Income in Retirement

The following information is from the 2007 US DHHS Poverty Guidelines and the Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin.

Below is information on the average annual Social Security payment to one elder by race:

Hispanic: $9,908
African American/Black: $10,115
Asian: $11,115
All races: $11,541
White: $11,733

The federal poverty level is $10,290.

The Elder Economic Security Initiative seeks to secure economic self-sufficiency so that all Americans can meet the cost of living in retirement.

By Marie Nelson

Single Women Face Financial Challenges

AARP Bulletin ran the following article by Carole Fleck in their January-February 2009 issue:

Many of the nation's 31 million women who live on their own face serious financial conditions that could worsen.

Households headed by women reported about half the median income of all households, $22,592 versus $43,130, according to a study released in December by the Consumer Federation of America. But their overall net worth was only about one-third of all households -- $32,850 compared with $93,001. The study analyzed Federal Reserve Board data collected in 2004.

Another finding was that women who lived on their own following divorce, separation or the death of a spouse, or those who never married, had more trouble saving for the future. About 33 percent said they didn't sock money away, compared with 24 percent of all households that reported the same.

Cindy Hounsell, president of the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement in Washington, says it's especially important for women who live on their own to save during tough economic times. Her advice: Pay down debt, eliminate credit card spending, find bargains and improve credit scores to get the best rates on car insurance and other products.

By Marie Nelson

Monday, March 16, 2009

MinnEESI: Just more data, or something new?

The Elder Economic Security Initiative (EESI) is an exciting new initiative that seeks to secure economic self-sufficiency for older adults. EESI uses a three-pronged approach: organizing, advocacy and research.

EESI is not "business as usual." A great feature of this multi-state project is the Elder Index, an entirely new measure of the cost of living. The Elder Index is unique in that it determines the incomes and supports needed for elders to live modestly depending on their health and life circumstances. The Elder Index's life circumstances include married or single and renter or home-owner (with and without mortgage).

By these standards, researchers learned that the statewide Minnesota Elder Index is $16,676 (for homeowners without a mortgage) or $19,090 (for renters). Compared to the federal poverty guideline of $10,400, the difference is remarkable.

To view the complete findings of the Minnesota Elder Index, you can download the file from the Wider Opportunities for Women website. It includes specific information on every county in Minnesota.

For more information contact the MinnEESI project coordinator, Marie Nelson, at or 651-228-0338.

By Marie Nelson