Financial Consequences of Health and Healthcare Spending Among Older Couples

Published: 2020
Project ID: UM20-12


Dementia, a chronic, degenerative disease characterized by deteriorating cognition, represents a particularly aggressive threat to older adults’ financial well-being.  Dementia-linked adverse financial events have the potential to deteriorate retirement savings, increasing financial strain and potentially demand for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.  The presence of an unimpaired spouse may protect dementia patients if the unimpaired spouse intervenes, or both spouses may be harmed by financial errors committed by the dementia patient.  In this project, we use linked consumer credit data and Medicare claims to study adverse financial effects before and after a formal dementia diagnosis among co-residing couples to address the topic of risks and resources at older ages.  Findings from this study will provide SSA with important information about the impacts of dementia on the financial well-being of married couples and provide baseline information about the co-movement of spousal credit outcomes.