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Barbara Bartell-Kamp
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Who is a senior citizen in Westchester County

Who are the senior citizens of Westchester County?  That all depends on who you ask and how you interpret the word “senior” citizen.  There are so many ways to interpret this term outside of actual age.

According to Wikipedia, the word is a Eupemism both in the U.K. and in the U.S. for a retired person, or over retirement age.

In terms of legal or political programs, the term is given to those who are able to collect social security, To fully collect this can be 65 or as early as 62 for partial payment.  As a note, the first Social Security program was signed on August 14, 1935 and was created to pay retired workers age 65 or older. This was a result of the years of great depression which found over 50% of all adults destitute.  According the the Social Security history site, they originally paid a lump sum.  An interesting fact was that the first monthly check was paid to a woman named May Fuller of Vermont who was paid $22.54 a month. She collected until she was 100 and died in 1975!

There are also 55+ communities where the residents must both be 55+ to own a condo/townhouse.

It can just be generally used to describe an older person. In the U.K. people who were “elderly” were called old age pensioners.

In terms of businesses, a senior citizen can be various ages depending on how many people they want to attract.  Senior citizen discounts are everywhere.   AARP classifies a senior for their benefits at 50.  Amtrak lists their discounts at 62 while Metro North you have to be 65.  IHOP considers you senior at 55, Decicco’s in Ardsley will discount your purchase on Wednesdays, while if you belong to Greenburgh Parks Dept pools or want to play tennis, you qualify as a senior when you turn 65.

If we discount all of the above discrepancies on when you are a “senior citizen”, there is generally a perception that the senior citizen title is negative by over 64% of those 65 or over!  However, if you take the word “senior” and put in another context, it is perceived as a positive. High School Senior, Senior Director of Editor, or Senior as a title for father of a son with the same name are all perceived as positive “seniors!”.

With our longevity increasing since those 1930 days, being more healthy and active, the term may need some re-visiting for the new generation of 60+ people!

 

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