Many U.S. Seniors Are Too Poor to Retire, Too Young to Die

Debt relief has become a very real problem for millions of Americans who should be looking ahead to retirement in their Golden Years. As of 2016, almost one-third of heads of households who are above the age of 55 lack pensions or retirement savings and earn, on average, just $19,000 per year. As a result, elderly people often find themselves in the difficult position of having to keep working indefinitely. According to economic data, approximately 80 percent of Americans now expect that they will need to work “well into their 60s” or even be forced to skip retiring altogether.

A recent Los Angeles Times article puts the problem in succinct terms: far too many elderly people in the United States are “too poor to retire and too young to die.”

Making matters worse is the fact that roughly half of all workers in the U.S. do not have an employer-backed retirement plan. Since they already earn low wages that barely cover the basic costs of living, these workers will have to rely on Social Security payments and pensions – but even these are things that today’s younger workers may not be able to count on as they get older.

The Story of Dolores Westfall: Senior Struggling with Debt

The Los Angeles Times article highlighted the financial difficulties faced by Dolores Westfall, a 79-year-old woman who has been making ends meet for years by traveling across the country in her RV and looking for temporary, seasonal employment. Sadly, Dolores’ story is not unique or uncommon in the U.S., even as the economy has seemingly rebounded from the recession.

While seniors today are living longer and longer thanks to advances in medical care, these medical advances are coupled with the increased cost of health care in this country. For someone like Dolores, expensive medical bills can be catastrophic. For example, she had to undergo emergency dental surgery in 2013 and was later sent an $8,000 bill that she still has not fully recovered from.

Moreover, Dolores’ concern about racking up more debt leads her to avoid going to the doctor when she suffers from daily aches and pains – a reluctance that is all too common among U.S. seniors these days. Beyond that, there are times when Dolores has to make a difficult choice between eating and paying her health insurance bill. This is a choice that many people have to make in this country as wages remain stagnant and debts mount.

For additional information about the debt struggles of U.S. seniors, read the Los Angeles Times article, “Too Poor to Retire and Too Young to Die.”


If you are struggling with crippling debt, Joel R. Spivack is an experienced bankruptcy and debt management lawyer who can help you get back on the right financial path. Contact Mr. Spivack today to schedule a free consultation.

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Attorney Joel R. Spivack is an experienced bankruptcy and residential real estate transactions lawyer in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Clients come to us for legal services, but what we really provide is peace of mind. For more than 30 years, Attorney Spivack has helped people make wise, informed decisions about bankruptcy filings, debt relief options and residential real estate transactions.
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