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Seniors on Edge Over the 'Fiscal Cliff'

PHOTO:  Seniors in Kentucky worried about the impact of the fiscal cliff.  (Courtesy AARP Ky)
PHOTO: Seniors in Kentucky worried about the impact of the fiscal cliff. (Courtesy AARP Ky)
December 13, 2012

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As the country inches closer to the "fiscal cliff," there's growing anxiety among older Kentuckians, according to a seniors leader. Jim Kimbrough is Kentucky AARP President. With the Dec. 31 deadline nearing, he says the "what ifs" amplify. For example, what if the age requirement for Medicare is pushed from 65 to 67?

"There are a lot of folks who are currently working at significantly intensive labor jobs who may not physically be able to hang on for just two more years."

AARP opposes changing the eligibility age for Medicare. The government program helps 560,000 Kentuckians with their health care.

If the nation goes over the fiscal cliff, it will trigger massive budget cuts and tax increases. Kimbrough says another concern is the idea of changing how cost-of-living increases are calculated for a variety of benefits, including Social Security and those for veterans. Kimbrough says that would hurt those living on fixed incomes.


"The net practical effect of it is we'll have lower monthly retirement checks."

A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation claims reducing the cost-of-living rate for Social Security benefits would take more than $1.7 billion out of the pockets of Kentuckians over the next 10 years. The average Social Security benefit in Kentucky is $13,200. According to AARP, that covers two-thirds of a typical older person's income, lifting many of them out of poverty. To see the pros and cons of various proposals, Kimbrough suggests a website created by AARP, www.EarnedaSay.org.

The Kaiser study is available at www.kff.org.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY