Senior poverty is on the rise. Disappearing pensions and inadequate retirement benefits are leaving more older Americans behind. Women, especially women of color, are more likely to age into poverty than men.


A Justice in Aging issue brief delves into the reasons women are more likely to age into poverty, and offers 15 recommendations for strengthening the supports that we all may need as we grow older. Women tell their own stories of the struggles they face in three short videos that accompany the report.

Key Drivers of Poverty Among Older Women: 

  • Caregiving responsibilities
  • Wage Gap & Low-Wage Work
  • Higher Health Care Costs
  • Death of a Spouse or Divorce
  • Wealth Gap
  • Discrimination
  • Domestic Violence


  1. Update the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program
  2. Provide Social Security Credits to Caregivers
  3. Increase Income Eligibility for Tax Credits
  4. Adopt Paid Leave Policies
  5. Expand Eligibility for 401(k) Participation
  6. Expand Eligibility for Medicare Savings Programs
  7. Add Dental, Vision, and Hearing to Medicare
  8. Maintain Pre-Existing Condition and Age Protections
  9. Develop a Long-Term Care Benefit
  10. Increase Funding for HUD and Other Housing Programs
  11. Utilize Medicaid to Increase Access to Housing
  12. Increase Funding for LIHEAP and Other Energy Assistance Programs
  13. Improve Access to SNAP
  14. Designate LGBTQ Older Adults as a “Greatest Social Need” Group
  15. Increase Funding for Legal Services

Additional Resources and Materials on Senior Poverty

Issue Brief: Aging, Women, and Poverty in California: We must do more Published November 2016 in collaboration with the California Commission on Aging, The California Commission on the Status of Women, and the California Women’s Law Center

Special Report: How to Prevent and End Homelessness Among Older Adults Published in April 2016 by Justice in Aging

Visual Slides: Race, Gender, Poverty, and Income Inequality Among America’s Seniors, presented at the National Aging and Law Conference in October 2015

Senior Poverty Forum: Dignity for All: Ensuring Economic Security as America Ages. On November 15, 2016, Justice in Aging hosted a forum  in Washington DC, featuring researchers, service providers, and advocates exploring the issue of economic security for older Americans and their families. Our three panels focused on the growing numbers of seniors living in poverty, efforts local providers are undertaking to serve these seniors, and policies we can advance to improve their lives.