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Guest Op-Ed: Fighting for our seniors

This year, the New York State Senate passed meaningful legislation to enhance and expand senior citizen services throughout our community and state. As the former chairperson of the Senate Committee on Aging, a position I held proudly for six years, I know the difficulties seniors face each day.

New York State needs to do more and make growing old easier for all of us.

This year’s budget established significant increases in the income eligibility requirements for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program and expanded the New York State EPIC Prescription Drug Program.

This action will provide true relief for thousands of seniors living on a fixed income, facing the rising costs of medication, rent and other living expenses.

We have also taken a major step forward as it relates to senior care in New York by including funding to support at-home services and health programs. We must continue to build on the funding allocation for the Community Services for the Elderly Program so that we can eliminate waiting lists for Meals on Wheels and case management.

The 2014-2015 New York State budget highlights for senior citizens include:

•An increase in the income eligibility to qualify for SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption) to $50,000;

•The expansion of the New York State EPIC Prescription Drug Program income eligibility from $35,000 to $75,000 for single persons, and from $50,000 to $100,000 for married seniors;

•$5 million for the Community Services for the Elderly program to support transportation assistance, respite care, case management and home delivery meals;

•$875,000 for the Elder Health/Alzheimer’s Program.

In addition to these programs, I was able to secure $65,000 for a new van for the Bay Ridge Center for Older Adults. This vital piece of equipment was long overdue, and will help to facilitate transportation for the center’s members, including trips to doctors and recreational activities hosted by the center.

I am proud of our accomplishments this year, and will continue to fight to ensure that our senior citizens receive the best that our government can offer them.

Working together, we will continue to make our community a better place to live, work and raise a family.

State Senator Marty Golden represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Midwood and Manhattan Beach.

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