Sun City, Ariz. – When the stock market drops, Barbara Eylands worries. She estimates that as much as 80 percent of her life savings is in the stock market. This is the money that she uses to put food on the table or gas in the car.
“I’m just hoping it will go up again and I don’t outlive my money,” Eylands says.
With more than 40,000 people, Sun City is Arizona’s largest retirement community. And the financial downturn is affecting many of these seniors directly. For people like Eylands who are living off the proceeds of an IRA or 401(k) that is invested the stock market, a market crash could be life changing. Eylands says she could always sell her house to raise money, but others aren’t so lucky.
“I’ve known people who’ve lost their pensions and they’ve had to go back to work,” says Lois Nelson, “and it’s not real easy for a senior to find a job.”
The rate of people 65 and older declaring bankruptcy has more than doubled since 1991, according to the AARP. And the rate could increase even more if the stock market doesn’t quickly recover.
Both presidential candidates have unveiled economic proposal in the last few days that they say will help seniors. Barack Obama would allow penalty-free withdraws of 15 percent or up to $10,000 from retirement accounts. John McCain would allow $50,000 to be withdrawn from retirement accounts, but with a 10 percent tax. Currently withdraws from IRAs and 401(k)s are taxed as regular income.
Eylands says that McCain’s plan would help her more than Obama’s proposal. She intends to vote for the Arizona senator next month.
Is Eylands making the right decision? What do you think needs to be done for our seniors? Watch the video above and please share your opinions below.
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