Westchester County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS) has kicked off its signature 2012 initiative in conjunction with its Livable Communities program:  a 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. Print the flier.

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.

Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino praised the survey and said he eagerly looks forward to its findings. “Like all Westchester residents, seniors are up against the highest property taxes in the country,” Astorino said. “But armed with the data from this survey, we will have a better picture of where to put our tax dollars to benefit seniors and have the most impact.”

Take the survey
The survey is being distributed at DSPS coalition 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 will be tallied and compiled by zip code in 2013 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 155 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 will be a blueprint for its 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.

For example, the indexed benchmark figures indicate that a single older person who owns a home but has paid off the mortgage needs a monthly income of $2,279 ($27,248 a year) to meet their basic needs. A couple in the same situation would need $3,186 a month ($38,232).  A single senior who rents a one-bedroom apartment, needs an income of $2,607 a month ($31,284) whereas a couple renting a one-bedroom needs a monthly income of $3,514 ($42,168).

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.