The number of new entrants into poverty also increased during this time, according to a report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Poverty rates fell in the first half of the last decade for almost all age groups of older Americans (ages 50 and older), though they increased since 2005 for every age group.
Poverty rates, as defined by U.S. Census poverty thresholds, were highest for the oldest of the elderly. Almost 15% of those older than age 85 were in poverty in 2009, compared with approximately 10.5% of those older than 65, EBRI found. Additionally, in 2009, 6% of those age 85 older were new entrants in poverty. According to Sudipto Banerjee, EBRI research associate and author of the report: “As people age, personal savings and pension account balances are depleted, and as people age, their medical expenditures tend to increase. Also, the rising poverty rates noted correspond to the two economic recessions that occurred during the last decade.”