By Karen Friedman
While Americans of all ages are cheering the prospect of vaccinations, the pandemic has already “put older people’s economic well-being at risk,” Mary O’Donnell, president of the RRF Foundation for Aging, said in an important and timely op-ed recently published in Crain’s Chicago Business.
When the pandemic landed ashore earlier this year, many people in their 60’s, 70’s and beyond were already reeling from the job losses, forced early retirements and depletion of their savings resulting from the Great Recession of 2008, according to O’Donnell. The pandemic-caused recession landed a second gut-punch, not only increasing health risks, but bringing more “unemployment, involuntary retirement, hunger and even homelessness.”
To reverse this trend, O’Donnell urged action to simplify and increase access to taxpayer supported resources and ensure that “all older adults have access to sufficient monthly income,” including a financially secure Social Security System.
O’Donnell ended her article on a hopeful note. She said the “current situation has brought the precariousness of so many older people’s financial situations into harsh focus. A just society should ensure that we can all live with dignity and independence as we grow older. Now is the time to mobilize financial supports that build resilience through this difficult period and allow us as we age to continue to make important contributions, not only to the economy but to our families and communities.”
The RRF Foundation for Aging focuses on improving the quality of life for older people. Improving Economic Security in Later Life is one of their five priority areas. RRF has played a critical role in supporting the Pension Rights Center over the years, most recently for our Pension Promises Initiative which is working to stop pension cuts to workers and retirees in underfunded multiemployer plans. The RRF Foundation for Aging also provides critical support to the Illinois Pension Assistance Project, which provides hands-on assistance to individuals in that state who need help with their retirement income problems.