Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert – September 12, 2014

Seniors Increasingly Struggle to Pay Back Educational Loans
Watsonville, California resident Rosemary Anderson testified in Washington on Wednesday before the Senate Aging Committee’s hearing on older Americans and student loan debt. “Some may think of student loan debt as just a young person’s problem,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), chairman of the committee. “Well, as it turns out, that’s increasingly not the case.” Ms. Anderson could be 81 by the time she pays off her student loans. After struggling with divorce, health problems and an underwater home mortgage, the 57-year-old anticipates there could come a day when her Social Security benefits will be docked to make the payments (

Among Americans ages 65 to 74 in 2010, 4% carried federal student loan debt, up from 1% six years earlier, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday at the hearing. For all seniors, the collective amount of student loan debt grew from about $2.8 billion in 2005 to about $18.2 billion last year. As when The Washington Post reported on the phenomenon four years ago, some older Americans are still paying off their first student loans, while others took on new debt when they returned to school later in life to become more competitive in the labor force. Many have co-signed for loans with their children or grandchildren to help them afford skyrocketing tuition. The recession that began during the last decade exacerbated the problem, making it harder for older Americans — or the youths they are supporting in school — to get good-paying jobs. Unlike other debts, student loans cannot be dismissed in bankruptcy.

“Some seniors have found that a college degree led to a lifetime of debt rather than a shining career,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “The risk of having to pay during your golden years is something to keep in mind if you take out a loan or sign for someone else’s.”

Latinos for a Secure Retirement Offers Advice to Hispanic Seniors at Summit
Alliance Legislative Representative Eva Dominguez, who is also Executive Director of Latinos for a Secure Retirement, delivered welcoming remarks on Wednesday at the 2014 Latino Retirement Security Summit in Washington, DC. Other speakers at the event included Reps. Pete Gallego (D-TX) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), as well as Acting Social Security Administration Commissioner Carolyn Colvin. A video link to the summit is at (beginning at 2:56). Panels included “The Social Safety Net: Protecting Low-Income Seniors from Poverty,” “Expanding and Preserving Pension Coverage: Helping Latinos Develop Retirement Savings,” and “Improving Outcomes for Latino 401(k) Participants.”

Sha Na Na’s Jon Bauman (Bowzer) Campaigns for U.S. House Candidate Kevin Strouse
John Bauman, known for being “Bowzer” with the group Sha Na Na and in the movie Grease, campaigned for Democratic U.S. House candidate Kevin Strouse (D) in Bristol, Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Bauman critiqued incumbent GOP Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, noting his abysmal 16% lifetime voting record with the Alliance for Retired Americans and his vote to shut down the government. “The fact that I love the music of the ’50s and the ’60s does not mean that I actually want to return to the ’50s and the ’60s — a time before Medicare when 35 percent of American seniors lived below the poverty line,” Bauman said.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to Face Scott Brown in New Hampshire Senate Race
Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (R) won his party’s Republican primary in the battle for New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate seat on Tuesday night, and will challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) in November. Brown has faced criticism for a July 22, 2011 vote against tabling a House-passed bill that ends Medicare and Social Security as we know it by raising the retirement age and cutting benefits (,

Ohio Alliance holds its Convention
The Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans held their bi-annual convention on Tuesday in Columbus. About 160 attendees heard from speakers including Brian Rothenberg of ProgressOhio; Wendy Patton from Policy Matters Ohio; Petee Talley, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio AFL-CIO and national Alliance board member; and state board member Wynne Antonio. Topics included the 2014 elections and the need to elect retiree-friendly candidates; a call to action for members to volunteer with the Workers Voice canvasses and phone banks; the impact of state tax policy on retirees and others of moderate means; and an update on changes in voter laws in Ohio.

Fiesta Speaks at Colorado Alliance Convention
Alliance Executive Director Richard Fiesta was in Denver on Thursday for the Colorado Alliance convention, where he detailed the state’s new “Vote by Mail” law and talked about coalition partner Social Security Works’ report, Social Security Works for Colorado. “Social Security brings $11.1 billion in benefits to Colorado each year,” Fiesta noted. “That helps not only seniors, the disabled, children, widows and widowers, but also the state economy as a whole.”

Alliance Member Katie Jordan wins Caring Across Generations Contest
Illinois Alliance member Katie Jordan won the “Ahead of Their Time” award in the Caring Across Generations “ThrowbackYearbook” contest ( Her youngest granddaughter, Alitra ‘A.J.’ Jordan, wrote Jordan’s bio piece for the contest’s website. In the piece, Alitra described her grandmother’s trail-blazing life including experiences as the first African-American woman elected to the posts of secretary, vice-president, and president of her local union (Workers United/SEIU). “A special thank you goes out to everyone who voted,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.

“Just Care” Offers Health Care and Retirement Advice, is like BuzzFeed for Boomers
Simple and helpful health care, health insurance and retirement information is scattered across the Internet and hard to find. Or, it is so dense that it is hard to understand. Much information is misleading. The Alliance is pleased to tell you about Just Care, which offers helpful answers to many of your biggest health care and retirement questions as well as a free weekly e-newsletter, Just Care Feed. Just Care creates a hub for fun, useful, easy-to-read information from consumer experts who are working to strengthen the economic and health security of boomers and their families. See for yourself. Here’s a tip from the Just Care Feed e-newsletter. To read more, subscribe!

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