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For California's elderly, federal poverty level is anything but realistic

October 17, 2010 | 11:40 am

Elderly poverty level

A recent UCLA study found that most older Californians, those 65 or older, need at least twice the income calculated by the federal government to make ends meet — $21,763 a year on average for a single person renting a one-bedroom apartment, or $30,634 for a couple.

"There is this whole hidden group of adults in need," said Susan Smith, program director at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, which commissioned the research.

In California, Smith said, many more people seek help from food pantries and other services than are officially recognized as living in poverty. An earlier UCLA study found that in 2007, 47% of older Californians — about 1.76 million people — did not make enough to cover basic needs, although just 8% fell below the federal poverty level that year.

"One size does not fit all," said Steven P. Wallace, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and lead author of the two studies. "California's high costs make a single national income standard … totally inadequate for seniors."

Read the full story here.

-- Alexandra Zavis

Photo: Exaltacion Divinagracia, 80, visits food pantries and lives with six roommates to make ends meet. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times