Economic hardship among the elderly: How important is failure to take up public programs?

Published: 2009
Project ID: UM09-14


About ten percent of the elderly experience economic hardship, defined here as cutting back on food or medication because of cost. Many of the elderly also fail to take up means-tested transfer programs for which they are eligible. Are these the same people? I propose to use data from the Health and Retirement Study to analyze the extent to which elderly individuals experiencing economic hardship are “leaving money on the table” by not signing up for the benefits available to them. The proposed research will inform efforts to reduce hardship among the elderly and analyses of the potential impacts of reductions in Social Security benefits.


Helen Levy