An Unexpected Source of Financial Support for Some American Older Adults

While Americans wait for another round of financial relief from the federal government, one group might be in line for an unexpected payment. Up to 60,000 American Holocaust survivors could be the recipients of payments from the German government following an agreement with the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims. The agreement, according to Newsweek’s Jacob Jarvis, is worth $663 million and will allow 240,000 survivors globally (including 58,000-60,000 Americans) to claim $2,800 over the next two years. 

According to Jarvis, this agreement came about in response to  the financial crisis, which is wreaking havoc for so many adult adults, in tandem with the pandemic. 

Gideon Taylor, the President of the Claims Conference, said the payments "will help our efforts to ensure dignity and stability in survivors' final years."

"We must meet the challenges of the increasing needs of survivors as they age, coupled with the new and urgent necessities caused by the global pandemic. It will always remain our moral imperative to keep fighting for every survivor."

“This news is near and dear to our hearts,” said Joe & Bella CEO Jimmy Zollo. “Our brand, which is all about making life a bit easier for older adults and their caregivers, was named after two Holocaust survivors who have played a special role in our lives.” Joe & Bella (www.JoeandBella.com) is a new e-commerce site that serves older adults and their family caregivers by providing a single destination to shop for products they need easily and simply. 

Stuart E. Eizenstat, Claims Conference Special Negotiator, spoke of the importance of such support amid the coronavirus crisis: "In the face of a devastating global pandemic, it was vital to secure larger increases for survivors while also seeking immediate funds to help them through these extremely challenging times," he said.

Older adults have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. According to recent analysis by Kaiser Family Foundation, 80% of all US Covid deaths were of adults 65 and older. That age demographic only accounts for 16% of the US population. 

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) published a brief in April that warned of the dire financial consequences that would impact seniors, predicting between 1.4 and 2.1 million will be pushed into poverty because of the pandemic.

“Recent history shows us that older adults suffer significant declines in net wealth during large and unanticipated economic downturns,” said Dr. Susan Silberman, NCOA Senior Director, Research & Evaluation. “A case in point is the Great Recession that began with the collapse of financial markets in 2008. A common trend seen across those aged 60 and older, regardless of age group or retirement status, was a decrease in total net wealth and taking on greater debt during times of recession.”

Since NCOA’s prediction, the poverty rate for those 65 and older has risen from 15.5% to 16%. In April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for those 55 and older peaked at 13.6%, higher than nearly all other age groups, reflecting that those still in the workforce have faced a significant challenge in retaining stable employment.

 

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