While those ages 55 and older have access to all available jobs in Ventura County, there are many challenges that this age group will inevitably face as they continue to grow older.

For instance, Social Security will not be enough to live on in the future, leading to projections of homeless senior population.

In other challenges, if you are 55, you need to reset your retirement fund goal to be well over $1 million and be willing to work until you are 70 in order to have a relatively comfortable retirement.

Greg Amantia, program specialist for, and alumni of, the Master of Public Policy and Administration Program at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

This article takes a look at opportunities for people 55 and older. Input was gathered from experts on this topic, including Greg Amantia, program specialist for, and alumni of, the Master of Public Policy and Administration Program at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

Amantia collaborated with two of his colleagues to provide the following information, including Mark Edwards, Interim Program Director for the MBA-FP Program at CLU; and Loredana Carson, a full-time instructor for, and alumni of, the Masters in Public Policy and Administration Program at CLU.

A protected class

On paper, there are both state and federal laws that prohibit age discrimination of any kind, according to Amantia.

He noted that the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act and, in California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act were put in place to prevent employers from refusing to hire or from firing or discriminating against someone based on age.

“The biggest myth in thinking people 55 and older are a protected class is that the laws in place are comprehensive enough to prevent ageism completely,” Amantia said. “One must consider the rigidity and narrow focus of these laws to truly understand how simple it is to avoid violating them.”

Unless a potential or current employer specifically states that they have refused to hire or have fired you, based on your age, it is extremely difficult to prove, he said.

“If, for example, an employer passes over a candidate in the application assessment phase of the hiring process, where little to no explanation of rejection is required, how will the rejected applicant ever know they were discriminated against because of their age?” Amantia hypothesized. “As long as the employer hires a qualified candidate, they will always be able to claim the new hire was just a better fit or more qualified for the position.”

Fixed incomes

With respect to fixed income, the younger generation is facing problems, Edwards said.

Loredana Carson, a full-time instructor for, and alumni of, the Masters in Public Policy and Administration Program at CLU

For instance, “There is a fear that Social Security funding will deteriorate, resulting in a dramatic cut (to 79 percent of stated benefits) to benefits for those [now] under 55, starting in 2034,” Edwards said.

“In addition, the age when individuals can file for full benefits from Social Security will rise to 67 for those born after 1959,” explained Edwards, further noting that there is a proposal to continue to raise the full retirement age, ultimately, to 68 or even to 70 by 2040, impacting those now in their late 40s.

Individuals can start to draw from Social Security at 62, Amantia said; there is, however, a discount for each year that anyone starts to collect prior to full retirement age (67 for today’s 55-year-olds).

“The average Californian receives $16,500 per year from Social Security,” said Amantia.

According to the Pew Trust, 13 percent of baby boomer families have some coverage in a traditional pension plan (defined benefit plan), and 43 percent are covered by a defined contribution plan (no employer guarantees).

“That means that 44 percent of boomer families have no additional coverage,” Amantia said.

As far as the typical fixed income for this age bracket is concerned, “There really is none, individually; though most older seniors have pensions, our younger boomers do not,” said Suz Montgomery, chair of the Ventura Council for Seniors and vice chair of the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging, who also serves the AARP Senior Policy District 26 Ventura County.

“This issue is critically important,” Montgomery emphasized. “Social Security will not be enough to live on in the future; welcome to the new projected homeless senior populations — scary.”

Housing costs

According to the United States Census Bureau, the median annual home price in Ventura County is $598,200.

Mark Edwards, Interim Program Director for the MBA-FP Program at CLU

“However, there is no correlation between age and housing costs,” Amantia explained. “The real benefit of being over age 55 is that when you sell your property, you may be qualified for certain exemptions.”

He further noted that, according to the Ventura County Assessor’s website:

The provisions of Revenue and Taxation Code Section 69.5 (Proposition 60) allow taxpayers at least 55 years of age to purchase a new residence of equal or lesser value than their former residence in Ventura County and transfer the assessed value (not taxes) of their former residence to the new residence.  The original and the replacement properties may be in Ventura County, or the original can be from another county. Some restrictions apply.

“What this means is that you can avoid a huge increase in property taxes,” Amantia explained. “Prop. 60 allows this exclusion if you buy a home within the same county you currently reside; so inside Ventura County, Prop 90 allows this exclusion if you reside in other specified counties.”

Housing opportunities

Currently, there are five developments that specifically serve 55+ communities.

“They are Leisure Village in Camarillo, The Springs in Camarillo, Hueneme Bay in Port Hueneme, Oaknoll Villas in Thousand Oaks, and Pacific Point in Oxnard,” Amantia said. “The range of prices on these properties varies from $20,000 to $60,000, depending on the size and location of the property.”

He further noted that not all individuals over 55 years of age are on a fixed income — meaning no current income generated and all income resulting only from Social Security or other pension that is unchanging over time — and these communities are not specifically for fixed-income residents.

“The determination of ability to purchase these properties is by age only not income status,” Amantia said.

Employment opportunities

According to the United States Census Bureau, between the years of 2012 and 2016, 151,282 (38 percent) of the 403,177 employed (16 years of age and older) in Ventura County worked in management, business, science and arts occupations.

In other statistics, 17 percent worked in service-based occupations, 24 percent worked in a sales or an office based occupation, 11 percent worked in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations, and 10 percent worked in production, transportation and material moving occupations.

“Those ages 55 and older have access to all available jobs in the county,” Amantia said.

He noted that, currently, unemployment in the county is low, about 3.6 percent, and therefore there are limited employment opportunities except in the high-tech and scientific areas with requirements of advanced degrees.

“While many individuals age 65 and older are predicted to leave the workforce in the next decade, a wave of job openings may occur as people move up into more senior positions vacated by retiring individuals and more entry level positions become available,” Amantia said. “How the ‘Silver Tsunami’ will impact those ages 55 and up specifically remains to be seen.”

Suz Montgomery, chair of the Ventura Council for Seniors and vice chair of the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging, who also serves the AARP Senior Policy District 26 Ventura County

When it comes to referring seniors for jobs, Montgomery points them to indeed.com, which most recently posted job listings for a recreation and community partnerships coordinator at the city of Ventura; a group home assistant at ResCare in Simi Valley, a field operations assistant at Service Corporation International in Westlake Village, and a community outreach coordinator at the Helping Hands Senior Foundation in Camarillo.

Five years ago, Montgomery created ENCORE for Ventura Adult and Continuing Education, which prepares diverse learners with academic, vocational and technological competencies for the 21st century global workforce.

ENCORE is a hands-on, self-paced training program in which participants follow written materials and receive help from a teacher as needed. It is not a traditional class where all students are learning the same thing at the same time.

“(ENCORE) is a free computer-based training program for seniors over 50 to get basic skills in order to get a job or be more proficient in looking for employment — it’s fabulous,” Montgomery said.

ENCORE is a partnership between Ventura Adult and Continuing Education, Ventura

County Area Agency on Aging, and the city of Ventura. Funding is provided by Ventura County Adult Education Consortium. For more information, call 805-289-7925.

Preparation for future stability

According to Edwards, someone approaching 55 is going to have to wait until 67 or perhaps 68 to claim full Social Security benefits.

“This means that they will need to rely even more heavily on savings to ensure retirement security,” Edwards said.

He noted that there is good news and bad news for Gen Xers.

“Good — they started to contribute to workplace retirement funds at 27, much earlier than the baby boomer generation,” Edwards explained. “Bad — their average balance and savings rate will result in balances averaging $500,000 when they reach 65.”

“While this sounds impressive, if they start to withdraw $40,000 a year and earn the inflation rate, their funds will run out of money in 12.5 years,” Edwards said. “Even if they earn 5 percent more than inflation (a very high historic return), they will still run out of money in 20 years.”

Baby boomers have an average of $150,000 in home equity that they could tap for retirement through reverse mortgages.

“At this point, those in the 55 age group have between $60,000-100,000 in home equity,” Edwards said. “As mortgages are paid off, this number will rise, assuming that home values don’t drop as they did in 2007-2008.”

Perhaps the biggest danger for 55-year-olds is that they are going to live longer than their parents, Edwards noted.

“A 65-year-old male or female can expect to live another 17.8/20.4 years,” he explained. “This number has been rising at a 1 percent-2 percent rate over the last 20 years, so a 55-year -old male might expect to live to 85 while a 55-year-old female may live to 87-plus.”

These are averages, “so a prudent financial plan might assume that a Gen-Xer will live until 95 or 100,” Edwards said.

He further emphasized that a 55-year-old who works until 68 earns 2 percent more than inflation, draws $50,000 out of savings each year to supplement Social Security (this number rises with inflation), and lives another 30 years will need $1.1 million dollars in savings.

“The upshot: If you are 55, you need to reset your retirement fund goal to be well over $1 million and be willing to work until you are 70 in order to have a relatively comfortable retirement,” Edwards said.

Montgomery recommends starting to save at age 30.

Additionally, “Urge cities, the county and local NGOs to collaborate and work together with me in creating a sustainable, long-term, permanent solution,” she said. “We’re in deep shit already.”