Archive for May, 2010

NJ’s Budget Impact on Seniors

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

May 26, 2010

New Jersey’s budget is in the midst of a heated debate. Governor Chris Christie has proposed the new budget and made many cuts. There have been many groups affected by the cuts that have reacted with press releases, meetings and rallies. NJFA and its partners have done much research and speaking out about the impact on our most vulnerable populations, including seniors.

Some of the proposed cuts included PAAD, NJ’s prescription drug assistance program, seniors would have been forced to pay a $310 deductible and face a co pay increase for brand name drugs from $7 to $15. Thanks to the efforts of many groups, the message of the impact of these cuts got to the legislators and they were successful in getting Gov. Christie to remove those cuts from the budget and keep the PAAD program the way it had been.

While that victory feels pretty good there are still many issues regarding the budget and seniors. The Senior Freeze program, a property tax reimbursement program, will not be given out in 2011, that is approximately $1,000 that many low to middle income seniors rely on to help make ends meet. Another item in the proposed budget that will affect the low income senior in NJ is the addition of a $5 co pay for medical day care services with a monthly cap of $25 and the elimination of medication administration as a criteria for medical day care attendance. Many caregivers rely on medical day care as part of a senior or disabled persons care plan, this will be a hardship for those who need it most.

A decrease in the provider reimbursement rate for the PCA program, a home care program that services 29,000 disabled persons and seniors, has been a hot topic in regard to Gov. Christie’s budget. The cut, which decreases the rate by approximately $2, has been the subject of budget hearing testimony due to the fact that this will cause many providers to withdraw from this vital service, leaving many clients in need without services.

With the Elder Index NJFA highlighted an issue regarding some of our most vulnerable seniors and that is the NJ SSI State Supplement which is just $31 a month and has been since 1986, a payment that is meant to help disabled persons make ends meet on a fixed income and just doesn’t cut it at that level. Recently a budget item has come to our attention that is equally troubling, the spousal supplement for caregivers of disabled persons is due to be eliminated in the proposed budget. Again, many of the cuts in this budget are affecting seniors, the disabled and their caregivers, many of whom are already living on the edge.

NJFA and many of our partner organizations have put out press releases, op eds and fact sheets, sending them to newspapers, legislators and community groups, hoping to get the word out about the proposed budget cuts and their impact on seniors. NJFA encourages everyone to contact their representatives in the legislature to make their voice heard.

You can find contact information for your local representatives at www.njleg.org

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Volunteers in NJ

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Volunteering in NJ

Data from 2007 and 2008 showed that about 26% of the American population volunteered. This, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics means that over 61 million people volunteered between 2007 and 2008. Volunteers were fairly evenly distributed over the age groupings of 35-44 (31%), 45-54 (29.9%) and 55 to 64 represents 28% of the volunteer pool.  A 2009 study by The Hartford, used this data, they state that those 50 and over are more likely to make donations of money rather than time.

In 2008 1.5 million New Jersey residents volunteered, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. Of those who volunteered, 21.5% were 55-64 and 18.5% were 65-74, while just 17.3% were 75 or over. The largest group of volunteers was 35-44 at almost 26%.

Both studies indicate that volunteer activities vary among age groups as well. Many young adults volunteer to work with children, such as tutoring or mentoring. Coaching sports seems to appeal to  middle aged volunteers, while managerial or professional tasks are common for young retirees. Those retirees are also more likely to continue volunteering if the tasks are managerial versus labor or transportation. Older adults often state that they are more likely to volunteer without a set schedule.

Some barriers for older adults when it comes to volunteering are:

Unaware of volunteer opportunities- they just don’t know where or how to volunteer

Economic barriers- either having to choose a paid position over a volunteer one, or not being able to afford the costs associated with volunteering.

Lack of transportation- unable to get to places to volunteer.

Fears and worries- for physical safety or personal injury.

We’d love to hear from you! Do you volunteer? If so, in what way and why do you still do it? If not, why? What do  you see as  barriers to volunteering?