The war on elder poverty – however you measure it – is not over

“Without Social Security, nearly half of seniors would be living in poverty,” President Barack Obama said last month, noting the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty. “Today, fewer than one in seven do. Before Medicare, only half of seniors had some form of health insurance. Today, virtually all do.”

Is the war on elder poverty over? Fewer older Americans are poor than any other age group – we heard that often in retrospectives on the war on poverty, and it comes up often in debates about possible cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Fewer seniors fall into the federal government’s official measure of poverty than younger Americans. The official poverty rate in 2012 for Americans over age 65 was 9.1 percent, much lower than the 15.1 percent rate for all Americans.

But the numbers mask a worrisome trend: Senior poverty rates are projected to rise in the years ahead – the only question is by how much. Learn more in my column today at Reuters Money.