Supporting Senior Citizens

  • Medical Debt

    • Medical debt is an increasing issue for our seniors in this country. Done Waiting believes this is unacceptable. Through a Medicare For All single payer system, the idea of medical debt would end. No longer will our seniors be in danger of losing insurance because of debt. Going bankrupt because you can’t afford a premium is immoral and Done Waiting will fight to insure all Americans. 

  • Assisted living 

    • Costs of assisted living are absurdly high, with a median of $4,000 per month. Medicare covers about 17% of all assisted living residents. The federal government must provide long term care under a single payer healthcare system, because dignified life for elders is a right, not a privilege.

    • Meanwhile, the median wage for assisted care workers is less than $13/hour and many workers lack basic protections such as being forced to work after contact with residents infected with coronavirus.

    • Several states are lacking in reporting guidelines for abuse, neglect, and other forms of accountability. The federal government must consider solutions to increasing the safety of residents in assisted living, including raising the wage to a living wage for workers.

  • Elder Abuse

    • Approximately 1 in 10 Americans over 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, exploitation etc). The abuser/neglector/exploiter is likely a family member. These abuses can lead to death or worsened medical problems. It is clear that oftentimes families do not have the resources to care for their family member at home, but they also do not have the resources to pay for outpatient care. This lack of resources fosters unsafe situations for senior citizens.    

    • The first legislation that allocated federal funds to address the problem of elder abuse was the Elder Justice Act, passed in 2010. This piece of legislation was attached to the Affordable Care Act. Done Waiting supports this act.

    • Resources to ensure Elder Justice as well as dignity will only increase under Medicare for All. There will be better access to better assisted living facilities, as well as in-home care.

  • Social Security

    • The maximum taxable income for social security is only $137,700. This limit should be eliminated in order to maintain funding of the Social Security Administration. Further funding can be achieved with progressive taxation.

    • The US 65+ poverty rate is 9.2%. Social Security benefits must be increased to alleviate seniors living in poverty. In January 2020, the average Social Security payout was $1,503. This must be increased to a livable amount and maintained with cost of living adjustments.

    • Social Security benefits are determined by lifetime income, or the highest 35 years of income out of someone’s life.

      • What are the effects of this method of distribution? Facing income gaps, women and people of color receive less money from Social Security, with women receiving about $4,500 annually less than men

      • Done Waiting supports addressing wage and income gaps by encouraging unionization and increasing Social Security benefits across the board.

  • Defined-Benefit vs Defined-Contribution Retirement Plans

    • The main difference between a defined contribution plan, or a 401(k) or 403(b), and a defined-benefit (pension) plan is that funding for a contribution plan is provided by the employee, while a benefit plan is funded by the employer. A pension plan ensures a monthly check during retirement, and often comes with benefits, while a 401(k) or 403(b) does not. However, the employer sometimes matches the employee’s contributions to their defined-contribution plan. 

      • Defined-contribution are obviously cheaper for the employer than pension plans, but pension plans provide more security in benefits and income for the employee

    • The prominence of pension plans has been decreasing for the last 40 years, and by 2018, only 13% of workers in the private sector were on a pension retirement plan, while only 55% of private sector workers participate in any kind of retirement plan. 

    • IRAs and defined-contribution plans are much harder for an employee to navigate. These plans often require an employee to pour resources into a financial advisor, further increasing the strain of retirement on a worker. While the worker has to deal with these extra expenses and stressors, the employer is not responsible for ensuring the well-being of their employee.

    • According to a 2019 survey, 69% of Americans have $1,000 or less in savings, and only 26% of Americans are primarily saving for retirement. 

      • What does this mean for our future?

        • The Census Bureau estimates that our population will age considerably between now, with an average age of 38 and 2060, which is projected to have an average age of 43 

          • This means our economy will more heavily rely on older folks, and if they do not have sufficient funds to participate in our economy, this could cause our private sector to stagnate. 

    • What can be done to ensure more people are on defined-benefit plans, and retirement plans in general?  

      • The decrease we have seen in defined-benefit plans is solely because companies want to save money. However, as a progressive, Done Waiting believes that the worker deserves to have a secure retirement if they have worked for their whole life.

      • This decrease has corresponded with a decrease in the strength of union negotiating. Unionized workers are more likely to receive pension plans, and better ones at that. This is one of the many reasons why Done Waiting is so supportive of robust collective-bargaining. His labor policy brief can be viewed here.  

      • Done Waiting believes the SECURE Act is a good start to encouraging businesses to adopt more sustainable retirement plans, however we acknowledge that more must be done in terms of strengthening unions and removing larger barriers for setting up fairer retirement plans. 

  • Workplace discrimination and Forced Retirement

    • Workplace discrimination based on age is a real problem in the United States today. According to one study, “44% reported that they or someone they know experienced age discrimination in the workplace.” Furthermore, researchers fear that the frequency of this problem will increase. 

    • Done Waiting firmly rejects workplace discrimination against older workers. Done Waiting believes in workplaces that break the stigmas against being an older worker, such as not being able to adapt to technology or being resistant to change. 

    • Many workers in this country are made to leave unexpectedly and involuntarily. Done Waiting supports increasing aid to workers who have experienced forced retirements. 

  • Family Caregivers

    • Currently, laws regarding paid family caregivers vary by state. This means that some states do pay family caregivers through public funds, other states pay family caregivers but only if they are not immediate family (child, spouse, parent). 

    • Also, every private insurance has different coverage/pay for caregivers.

    • Done Waiting supports the house’s Medicare for All bill, which would provide resources for family caregivers. Done Waiting supports a $15 hourly wage for family caregivers. 

      • This would insure that no matter what state an individual resides in, they can become a paid caregiver for their family member.