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What you need to know about u.s. census 2020 and why it is vitally important to seniors

April 1st is rapidly approaching, and it’s not just April Fool’s Day this year. It is also Census Day 2020, and this is the first time the majority of Americans will fill out their census information online. Official U.S. Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail, is on the way. As always, if you don’t reply by a certain date, they’ll come to you in person. That being said, there is some concern about the challenges of getting older people to participate this time around.

A recent U.S. Census Bureau survey found that 56% of those 65 and older aren’t comfortable with an online response and prefer to fill out a paper census form—which is still an option in addition to providing the information by telephone. 

“The concerns over privacy and cybersecurity will have to be overcome, and those concerns are highest for those over 50,” says Steve Jost, a former Census Bureau official. 

What the census means for you

It is vital to the senior community to have everyone participate in this important decennial process. The data collected by the census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives (a process called apportionment), and it is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities. That includes money for schools, roads, hospitals—and programs that specifically aid older Americans. 

Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income people and those age 65 and older, is the largest federal program that uses census statistics to determine funding. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the second-largest program that uses census statistics to allocate funds, and third is Medicare Part B. 

In addition, adult day care, community center lunches, home-delivered meals, protection and remedy from abuse—both physical and financial—are mostly funded by Social Services Block Grants. The funding levels for these grants, in part, are derived from statistics produced by the Census Bureau. 

Watch out for scammers

A very small percentage of people who knock on doors claiming to be from the Census Bureau are looking to gather personal information so they can steal from you. Real census employees won’t ask for your full Social Security number, for money or donations, or for bank or credit card numbers. 

Check to make sure that the person has a valid identification badge with his or her photograph, a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. If you still suspect fraud, call the Census Bureau at 800-923-8282 to speak to a representative.

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