When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to “Older Americans Month.” The National Council of Senior Citizens later became the Alliance for Retired Americans, and I am proud to represent the Nevada Alliance of Retired Americans as its state President.

In 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Older Americans Act of 1965 and formally declared May as Older Americans Month. The Older American Act, created the Federal Administration on Aging to address the needs of older Americans; introduced nutrition programs, transportation assistance, federally funded adult day care, legal assistance and other services for seniors; and paved the way to passing the Medicare program.

Today, nearly 54 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, including 38 million retirees and their family members, 10 million Americans with disabilities and their dependents, and 6 million survivors of deceased workers. For many of these Americans, Social Security is a key source of income. 44 million beneficiaries—some 15 percent of the U.S. population—are enrolled in the Medicare program. One in 10 beneficiaries relies solely on the Medicare program for health care coverage. These are lifesaving benefits seniors depend on every day. 

I am pleased that Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Congresswoman Dina Titus received a 100%score from the Alliance for Retired Americans on their voting records thanks to their 2017 votes to protect retirees. Congresswoman Jacky Rosen earned a score of 89%.  

This past year we have seen a record number of attempts to take away the benefits that seniors andretirees have earned throughout their lifetime. Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security have been proposed numerous times by members of the House, Senate and the Administration to free up money for tax breaks for the ultra-rich.

The retirees and seniors of Nevada owe big thank you’s to Senator Catherine Cortez Masto andCongresswomen Dina Titus and Jacky Rosen for standing up for us in in Washington. Nevada retirees will not forget in November.  

Thomas Bird

President, Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans (NARA)

Wellington, NV