By Kieran C. O’Sullivan

Seniors and Voting

President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney are close together in the race for votes but far apart on the issues. Only US citizens can vote in the upcoming election in November. Given that elections are coming up, it is time to remind newly sworn-in senior citizens to register to vote.

Through voting you are given the opportunity to have your voice heard in our democratic process. Registering to vote will only take up a few minutes of your time. There are many issues facing seniors currently being debated by the candidates including the future of Social Security, Medicare, and health care among others. We encourage seniors to take an interest in these topics, where the candidates stand on them. We remind all US citizens and recently naturalized US citizens to register to vote, and vote in the upcoming elections.

You may be able to apply to register to vote in person at the following public facilities:

State or local voter registration and/or election offices The department of motor vehicles Public assistance agencies Armed services recruitment centers State-funded programs that serve people with disabilities Any public facility that a state has designated as a voter registration agency
Massachusetts’s seniors count on Social Security benefits earned through a lifetime of work.

· A total of 89 percent, or 819,775 of older (65 ) Massachusetts residents, received Social Security in 2011. The average annual benefit was only $14,200.

· Social Security accounted for 56 percent of the typical older Massachusetts resident’s income.

· Low- and middle-income seniors in Massachusetts are even more reliant on Social Security’s earned benefit, typically receiving 75 percent of their individual income from Social Security.

Social Security keeps middle-income older Massachusetts residents from falling into poverty
· About 7 percent, or 70,606, older Massachusetts residents were in poverty.

· Without Social Security income, an additional 33 percent of older Massachusetts residents, or 315,628 people, would fall into poverty.

Social Security plays an important role in Massachusetts’s economy

· Social Security provided $15.3 billion in benefits to all Massachusetts residents and $11.7 billion in benefits to Massachusetts residents 65 and older in 2011.

MEDICARE in Massachusetts

Medicare provides guaranteed health coverage, but out-of-pocket costs are high.

· On average, Massachusetts’s Medicare beneficiaries spent an estimated $5,300 on out-of-pocket health care costs in 2011.

· In 2011, average Massachusetts seniors on Medicare spent an estimated 12 percent of their income on out-of-pocket health care costs.

Medicare provides peace of mind for Massachusetts seniors

· Nearly 96 percent of older Massachusetts seniors, or 879,033, were enrolled in Medicare in 2011.

· In contrast, roughly 4 percent of Massachusetts’s 50-to 64-year-olds were uninsured in 2010.

Medicare plays an important role in Massachusetts’s economy

The Medicare program spent an estimated $9.41 billion on health care services for Massachusetts’s seniors in 2011.

These facts are provided by the American Association for Retired People (AARP) and more valuable information and tools are available on their website: