In early-to-mid adulthood, income and health care coverage are usually the results of steady employment. But what happens if the job market tanks and we find ourselves unemployed for long periods of time? For many, it means losing medical coverage, while for others it may even spell homelessness.
You may believe Social Security for older Americans should be a moral obligation, a privatized scheme, left alone or abolished completely. But once you qualify to receive it, you may find it's a lifeline.
The introduction of Social Security in America -- and subsequent improvements to it -- has coincided with decreased mortality rates among older adults. In fact, 1 in 3 beneficiaries count on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their total income, and more than 4 in 10 older American adults would live in poverty if not for Social Security [source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation].
Having a guaranteed source of income means seniors have improved living situations, improved access to healthcare and less financial stress.
The implementation of Medicare -- which provides nearly universal health care coverage for adults age 65 and older, as well as for the disabled -- not only provides greater access to needed medical care, but also eliminates the out-of-pocket spending that previously accompanied an uninsured senior's trip to the doctor or hospital.
As we'll discuss next, stress is for the birds -- and for the young.