Hurdles for Nebraska's Eldery Women

Part II
The Elder Law Journal’s article by M.L. Reig, “The Unspoken Poor: Single Elderly Women Surviving in Rural America,” sheds light on what I have already observed. The article states that single, elderly women in rural America have been left behind. These women ‘continue to face economic hardship and a high risk of poverty during old age.’[1] Their income levels fall well short of those of the rest of the elderly population.[2] They receive Social Security benefits of lesser value than do most elderly people and often do not receive income from private pensions or personal investments.[3] As a result, these women fall through the cracks of America's social policy and have remained in poverty at a much higher rate than the rest of the elder population, despite tremendous economic growth in the general economy during the 1990s.[4]
Furthermore, the article identifies the three main causes of poverty among single nonmetropolitan elderly women. First, these women have insufficient income due to lower average monthly social security benefits than men.[5] Generally, single women receive lower Social Security payments because of lower preretirement incomes and their tendency to engage in work not recognized by the Social Security system, such as childcare and the care of aged family members.[6] Also, these women are less likely to receive a private pension.[7] Second, isolation and lack of access to essential goods and services attributes to the impoverishment of these women.[8] Lastly, the attachment to their homes, the sanctuary of their memories, keeps women from moving to more affordable housing.[9]
Advocacy work should be done to provide more social contact and better transportation for these women through non-governmental organizations. Policy work should be done to provide financial support by adjusting Social Security survivor benefits. Also, non-profit organizations could be established at the state and national levels to advocate for legislation on behalf of these women. Furthermore, elderly women living across the United States’ countryside are fiercely independent and will not be the first to complain. That’s why it is imperative that policy and advocacy work be done on their behalf.

[1] M. L. Reig, The Unspoken Poor: Single Elderly Women Surviving in Rural America, 9 Elder L.J. 257, 265 (2001)
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id.
[9] Id.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.