Credit crisis affecting senior citizens

October 12, 2008 6:21:28 PM PDT
The California Alliance of Retired Americans, meeting in San Francisco, says senior citizens are at risk in the credit crisis and they want to get that message across to lawmakers.

"When you are on a fixed income that makes a big difference," said Floyd Allen.

Maureen Allen is 72 and retired on a school teacher's pension. Her husband Floyd is 64. He stopped working four years ago because between their income property and Maureen's pension they were doing fine. Today, they're on the brink of disaster

"Quite frankly I'm looking at this point at I may have to go back to work or sell some of our assets to make ends meet," said Allen.

If he can find a job, the Allens say they embody the worst effects of this economic meltdown.

"I'm scared to death," said Maureen.

Maureen is worried about her pension fund because she says much of it was invested in stocks.

"I'm going to get mail. Sorry, but we don't have the money to send you your check anymore, so that is in the back of my mind," said retiree Maureen Allen.

If that wasn't enough, their home is in foreclosure.

"We're literally sitting on the edge to see if we can fight our way out of this, not a good position to be in," said Floyd Allen.

There are 800,000 members of the California Alliance of Retired Americans statewide. At Sunday's luncheon and workshops, they're talking about health care, medication, retirement funds and the impact long and short-term the financial crisis has created for seniors.

Many attendees are also suffering from failing 401K and IRA plans.

"Personally we're talking $100,000 in the past month $35,000 in the past week out of my retirement account," said consultant David Grant.

George Lakoff, a UC Berkeley linguistics professor, was the keynote speaker. He says seniors have to frame their message of concern and despair correctly to get it across to legislators.

He says seniors have worked decades to earn their retirement funds and the countries politicians and financial institutions have failed them.

"They feel a sense of betrayal they have been betrayed," said Prof. George Lakoff.

But the California Alliance wants legislators to understand that their 800,000 members vote, so California legislators should pay attention to the concerns of seniors. They'll also be airing those concerns to Senator Barbara Boxer on Sunday night.


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