As we approach the new lunar year of the Rooster, we have a unique opportunity to alert our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) seniors about Social Security benefits and eligibility — like the rooster issues its daily morning call.
I believe that we as a society are judged by how we care for the least among us, especially our elderly.
The latest census data reveal that Social Security reduces the overall percentage of seniors living in poverty from 40.5 percent to 8.8 percent. It lifts 15 million seniors out of poverty!
Of the nearly 38 million beneficiaries aged 65 and older, roughly 1.4 million seniors are from the AAPI community, and this number is expected to increase in the coming years.
Sixty-five percent of AAPIs aged 65 and older receive Social Security benefits, including 28 percent who rely on it as their primary source of family income and 9 percent who rely on it as their only source of family income.
Social Security treats AAPI seniors with dignity and is sensitive to cultural and language challenges. There are more than 1,700 AAPI bilingual employees providing services in many Asian and Pacific Islander languages and dialects. Social Security also provides free interpreter services to limited English proficient AAPIs in their preferred languages and they supply publications in Chinese, Hmong, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Social Security makes it easy for AAPI seniors to take full advantage of the programs and services available to the public.
But this can only happen if our AAPI seniors — many of whom are culturally isolated and have higher poverty rates than the national average — understand how Social Security is with them through life’s journey.
So let us all take the time to crow a wake-up call to our seniors who may not know about everything Social Security has to offer them!