Elderly Hispanics in the United States, the fastest growing segment of those 65 and older, have a poverty rate double that of whites but are less likely to receive Social Security, a study released yesterday said.
The National Council of La Raza made the study public at a congressional hearing at which the group asked for changes in federal guidelines to help the Hispanic elderly "live out their lives in a productive and dignified manner."
The council, a nonprofit Hispanic advocacy organization, concluded that the Hispanic elderly are less likely than elderly whites or blacks, the poorest of the three groups, to receive Social Security and "more likely to depend on earnings and on public assistance . . . to survive."
The 31-page report, titled "The Hispanic Elderly: A Demographic Profile," was presented at a hearing before the House Select Committee on Aging.
"The median per capita income for older Hispanics is less than two-thirds that of whites, and the poverty rate for Hispanic elderly is twice" the rate for elderly whites, La Raza said. Elderly blacks, however, remain the poorest subgroup, with a poverty rate three times that of elderly whites, the study found.
"Nearly one in four elderly Hispanics receives no Social Security, compared to one in seven blacks and just one in 12 whites," the study said.
Emily Gantz McKay, executive vice president of La Raza, called on the committee to support changes in federal guidelines so "they do not separate or penalize multigenerational families" seeking housing assistance or other government aid for their elderly members.
According to the study, based on government statistics, 70 percent of elderly Hispanics live in four states -- California, Texas, Florida and New York -- and they are more likely to live with family members than other elderly subgroups.
"Since 1970, the Hispanic elderly population has grown by 61 percent -- well above the growth rate of the total elderly population during the past 20 years," the study said.