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Westchester County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services continues to survey of county residents age 60 and older to learn if a senior's income covers his or her basic expenses without public or private subsidies.

Using the nationally recognized Elder Economic Security Standard Index, the survey will measure the economic security of older adults by determining whether or not they have sufficient income to pay for their basic needs. For the purpose of this survey, basic needs are food, transportation, health care insurance and housing.

Take the survey
The survey is being distributed at DSPS collaborative meetings, nutrition sites and Livable Communities Villages, among other locations. Seniors with Internet access can complete the survey online. Seniors that do not have access to the Internet, should contact Colette Phipps at (914) 813-6441 or to receive the survey by mail.

The results are tallied and compiled by zip code to create a portrait of the economic security of Westchester’s seniors. The county will share its findings with the public as well as with service providers, senior advocates and policymakers.

The anonymous survey is sponsored by the county’s Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS) and the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services. The project is vitally important for the county’s 298 Livable Communities Villages, which are places where seniors can continue to live in their homes as they age with dignity and independence and where “neighbor-helping-neighbor” is a way of life. 

DSPS Commissioner Mae Carpenter said the survey feedback is a blueprint for important projects in future years. “I encourage every senior to make it a priority to take this survey,” Carpenter said. “We might not be able to shift the wind, but we may be able to tilt the sails. Of course, we first have to know which way the wind is blowing.”

About the Elder Economic Security Standard Index
The Index is calibrated to reflect the needs of specific living situations, for adults who want to remain in their homes as they age through benchmark figures. In the housing portion of the survey, these figures indicate how that amount will vary, depending on the life circumstances of a senior or couple. For example, the survey asks whether the senior lives alone or with a spouse and if they own or rent their home. If they own their home, the survey asks if the mortgage is fully paid or if they continue to pay it off.

The survey was developed by Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) in collaboration with the Gerontology Institute of the University of Massachusetts, Boston. WOW and the Gerontology Institute developed the benchmark figures for every county in 17 states, including New York. To compile the region-specific figures, they used data from sources such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Renewal, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Census Bureau and the Consumer Price Index.

Most people think of Social Security as a retirement program. Although it is true that most beneficiaries, about 61 percent, receive retirement benefits, many others get Social Security because they are:

  • disabled
  • a spouse or a dependent of someone who gets social security
  • a widow, widower or child of someone who has died

Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for Social Security at any age. Social Security pays more benefits to children than any other government program. Today, more than 44 million people, about one out of every six Americans, collect come kind of Social Security benefits.

How to contact the Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has about 1,300 office in cities and towns across America. You are always welcome to visit the office nearest you or visit them on the Internet.

You can get recorded information 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays, by calling Social Security’s toll free number (800) 772-1213. You can speak to a service representative between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days. The lines are busiest early in the week and early in the month, so if your business can wait, it is best to call at other times. When you call, have your Social Security number handy.

People who are deaf or hearing impaired may call the toll free TTY number, (800) 325-0778 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days.

SSA treats all calls confidentially, whether they are made to the toll free number or to one of the local offices. SSA also wants to assure that you receive accurate and courteous service. That is why they have a second Social Security representative monitor some incoming and outgoing telephone calls.

Woman signing check

Many people are struggling to pay their bills in today’s economy.  Learn how to plan for a better future by reading Financial Benefits & Savings: Guide to Saving Money for Westchester’s Seniors.  This guide will help you save money on utilities, heating, prescriptions, Medicare costs, rent, property taxes, minor home repairs and more.  It is also available in Spanish, Guía de Ahorro & Beneficios Financieros.

You should also familiarize yourself with our Services Rights and Benefits: Directory for Westchester’s Seniors, containing information on a wealth of services and benefits available to you as a senior citizen in Westchester. All services are listed alphabetically with an index by municipality.  We also provide this in Spanish, Sitios de Vivienda para Personas Mayores en Westchester.

Have questions about estate and financial planning, health care needs or elder abuse? If so, Elder Law Q&A: An Introduction to Aging Issues and Planning for the Future offers answers. It is also available in Spanish. Additional information, proxy forms and other useful materials and resources are also availlable through our Senior Law Day partners.

We also provide information on Social Security Administration and Medicare, two basic building blocks to financial health for senior citizens. And, New York State's STAR property tax reduction programs for homeowners including Enhanced STAR for seniors.

Did you know that there are over 2,500 benefit programs available nationwide for seniors?  The National Council on Aging provides services like BenefitsCheckUp®, a comprehensive, free online tool that connects older adults with benefits they may be eligible for. Just enter your zip code to find out about programs that can help you save money.

Finally, browse our Consumer pages to help educate yourself about product safety, protect yourself from identity theft, find the best gas prices in Westchester County and more.