NJFA is pleased to see the needs of older adults in the Governor’s FY 2021 budget, we know that rising healthcare costs are an issue for many of NJ’s older residents and so the increase in the income eligibility level for the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) and Senior Gold programs is much needed. Affording prescriptions can be difficult on a fixed income and this expansion will allow more residents to be eligible for Senior Gold (current eligibility for a single person over 65 is $28,399-$39,399). We additionally hope to see seniors represented in the work taken on by the newly created Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency.

While maintaining last year’s increase in Senior Property Tax Freeze eligibility is a positive, widening access to this benefit would make a huge difference for older adults. In addition, we hope to see additional efforts to help older adults live in affordable homes, including expanding rental assistance or protecting renters, such as the proposed bill, A1914 which allows certain senior citizens to apply for rent increase limit.

Census data reports that 8% of people 65 and over in NJ live at or below the Federal Poverty  Level (FPL). Those individuals likely qualify for and receive public benefits, including the prescription programs referenced above. The median income in NJ for someone over 65 is $45,338 and statistics show that 28% of older adults in NJ have incomes below $25,000. According to the NJ Dept of Human Services Living Below the Line report, “54%; more than five in ten New Jersey retired elder‐only households lack annual incomes that will insulate them against poverty as they age.” As NJ’s population grows older and more diverse, we need to do all we can to ensure that everyone can afford to age well here.