Our friends at Wider Opportunities for Women are hosting a "Budget Matters" Blogging Day today. They challenged people to blog about two questions: "What can President Obama and Congress do to help Americans be economically secure while balancing the budget? And what do President Obama and Congress need to know about your budget – or that of those you represent?" You can go to their site and blog your own answers to these questions, and see what other people have to say.
Right now, President Obama and Congress are deciding how to balance America’s budget. When making decisions about the budget, our nation’s leaders need to hear about what matters when it comes to the budgets of all Americans – young and old. With the current recession, we know that more and more individuals are facing an incredibly tight budget – one where some are forced to decided between such essentials as medicine or food.
In Pennsylvania, depending on housing, health, and other circumstances, it can cost between $21,531 and $33,232 for an elderly couple to meet their basic needs (according to the Elder Economic Security Standard Index for Pennsylvania). We know that elders cannot make ends meet on Social Security payments alone. The average Social Security payment for a retired couple in Pennsylvania in 2007 was $21,168, less than 80 percent of what the average couple needs to make ends meet. Yet Social Security is the only source of income for one out of nine retired elderly couples. Women are hit particularly hard by the shortfall of Social Security. Single women who rent find themselves falling short of making ends meet by between $3,000 and $11,500.
In Pennsylvania, individuals are also facing cuts to the State Supplemental Payment (SSP) for Pennsylvania’s elderly, disabled, and blind. Because of the 2009-2010 state budget, the state supplement has now been cut each month by $5 for a single person and $10 for a couple. Individuals who relied on SSP used what may seem like a little bit of money to makes ends meet. Now those individuals will either have to choose to go without or will have to cut corners elsewhere. When SSP recipients’ budgets were not considered in the state budget process they felt the impact.
Programs that help people afford essentials such as housing, food, transportation and health care are crucial to vulnerable populations, like our elders, making ends meet. With such supports people are able to approach economic security. America’s budget matters as cuts to its budget will mean huge cuts for those most in need. Please contact your legislators and let them know what your budget looks like and how cuts will hurt.