Unnecessary Breaks

Richard Quinn

IT’S SOCIETY’S responsibility to provide for those in need. “Need” is the key word here. It bothers me that so many resources are directed to those of us who made it to old age.

Although there are many low-income seniors, the generalization that we’re all income-challenged is a fallacy. According to the Congressional Research Service, “The poverty rate for individuals aged 65 and older historically was higher than the rates for adults aged 18-64 and children under the age of 18, but today is the lowest among those three age groups.”

The fact is, seniors have a higher median net worth than most younger Americans. Their median income is equal to or greater than many middle-aged Americans raising families and saving for retirement. Nevertheless, senior discounts and tax advantages indirectly transfer monetary resources from younger to older Americans.

In New Jersey, for example, seniors with household income of up to $150,000 can get a rebate on property taxes and apply to have future increases frozen if their income doesn’t exceed $92,969. (For comparison, the median income for all households in New Jersey is just over $85,000.) Many states have similar programs with income limits that may or may not apply. There are also discounts of all kinds just because we’re old.

Contrary to what many believe, seniors are the only group of Americans virtually guaranteed not to be living on a fixed income, thanks to investment growth and Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustments.

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