Latino Millennials Need to Get Smart on Social Security Benefits

Posted on 12/23/2021 @ 05:36 PM

Tags: Social Security

By Sindy Benavides, LULAC National CEO

It’s that time of the year where we start to worry about money. The year is ending with high credit card bills because of holiday spending and travel, and in four short months it will be tax time. As an immigrant mother, and Millennial, I understand my generation’s obsession with the daunting financial issues immediately before us, like paying monthly bills on top of high college debt, or trying to save for a first home.

However, in all the focus of now, younger adults often forget to plan for our long-term financial security, and this is especially important for US Hispanics who are often the generation navigating our parents' financial decisions. They are retiring soon, if they haven’t already, and there is a lot of critical information that our parents need to know about Social Security that we can help them understand.

Younger Latino adults need to get smart on programs like Social Security, and fast. The more education we have on how Social Security works, the more helpful we can be in enrolling our grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, and even ourselves, in this vital program. For Hispanics there is even more urgency because we outlive non-Hispanic whites but have lower income and education levels. This means that our families have less retirement savings, and are more at risk for living in poverty later in life.

A study by the Social Security Agency shows that Hispanics’ self-assessed knowledge of retirement-related financial issues is significantly lower than that of non-Hispanic whites. They feel less knowledgeable about how inflation affects retirement, how much to save for retirement based on longevity, how to invest their retirement money, and how to manage retirement spending. Not surprising, Spanish-speaking Hispanics feel even less knowledgeable than English-speaking Hispanics.

The same study showed that Latinos might have awareness that Social Security exists but they have less knowledge of how Social Security benefits work, which can hurt them if they do not make informed decisions. For example, if my mom doesn’t know that benefits are inflation-indexed and increase with delayed claiming, she could claim her benefits now but will lose a lot of money that she would have earned had she waited to do so. This decision could translate into her not having enough money later down the road in retirement, when she probably needs it most.

If the older members of our families are not empowered with the knowledge on how Social Security works to make optimal decisions, including our disabled family members who get Social Security, the burden of taking care of them will fall on us.

However, we have to get smart first and LULAC urges our community to use AARP’s simple online tools in English and Spanish to learn more. In AARP’s Social Security Resource Center, you can access tools and resources to estimate your family members’ retirement benefits, assess the financial impact of claiming benefits based on age, stay up-to-date on changes to benefits, and get answers to your questions.

I will admit that as a younger worker, I used to cringe when I looked at my Social Security contributions on my pay stub. This is because I, like many new members of the workforce, was not aware of the immediate benefit of the program in life right now. Many young workers do not realize that it is their grandparents’ and parents’ current Social Security checks that might be keeping the household afloat.

Social Security is not a government handout, it is our family member’s hard-earned money and its benefits are felt in our communities every day. If this program did not exist, the onus of taking care of the many needs of the older members of our families would be on us, and that is an expensive, and often impossible, task.

The research on financial literacy tells us that providing Hispanics with information on Social Security benefits will affect their benefit-claiming decisions in retirement planning. But before we put the burden of understanding how the program’s benefits work on the elderly members of our families, Latino Millennials owe it to our families who once took care of us, to get smart on Social Security so we can help them navigate the program, make optimal financial decisions, and in turn, empower ourselves as we plan our own retirement.

Escape the Vape! Say “no” to Tobacco

Posted on 12/16/2021 @ 04:36 AM

Tags: Health

By Jennifer Reyes, Health Program Coordinator

In continuation of our partnership with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids aimed at addressing the impact tobacco use has on the Latino community, on December 6, 2021, LULAC hosted a virtual workshop with CTFK’s Director of Youth Advocacy, Gustavo Torrez. During this session, Gustavo guided youth and young adults through an interactive workshop, introducing participants to social setting prompts and situations with the goal of building confidence in handling peer pressure and successfully saying “no” to tobacco products in social settings..

It was interesting to hear the different reasons for which our youth and young adults choose to not vape. Andres Rodriguez, LULAC’s National Vice President for Young Adults, shared his testimony of why he chooses to stay tobacco free. He has seen first-hand how tobacco has impacted his family’s health through lung cancer and other tobacco related issues. The other young adults expressed similar sentiments of staying tobacco free because they value taking care of their health and well-being.

Your voice is powerful! If vaping is impacting you, your friends, family members or school, you can speak up and out. These are some simple ways you can take action.

  1. bit.ly/WaysToTakeAction: check out current actions you can take to take down commercial tobacco.
  2. TakingDownTobacco.org: learn the skills you need to advocate for change.
  3. Are you or a friend struggling with vaping? Text TAKEDOWN to 88709 for an anonymous text service designed to help young people quit vaping.

Additionally, LULAC and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids created a toolkit of curated guidance and resources for Latino youth and communities. The toolkit is in both Spanish and English and includes relevant background information on the tobacco industry’s targeting of Latino communities, tobacco products and use, health impacts of tobacco, scenarios on saying no, and messaging to encourage others to avoid tobacco. Check out the toolkits and learn more here: LULAC.org/livetobaccofree.

LULAC and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Partnership

Posted on 11/16/2021 @ 01:15 PM

Tags: Health

By Jennifer Reyes, Health Program Coordinator

LULAC is dedicated to health equity among the Latino community. That is why we launched our Latinos Living Healthy initiative to discuss the health issues that impact our community including tobacco-use, obesity, HIV/AID, and lack of representation in clinical research. LULAC’s plan is to address these health inequalities by providing educational resources, hands-on training, bilingual guidance, and webinars.

This year, LULAC began partnering with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to address the impact tobacco use has on the Latino community. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is the leading advocacy organization working to reduce tobacco use and its deadly consequences in the United States and around the world. Because ninety percent of adult smokers begin this deadly addiction as teenagers or earlier, youth are critical and powerful voices in the fight against tobacco. Through our partnership, LULAC hopes to inspire Hispanic youth and parents to learn more about the importance of being tobacco-free and aid families to build healthy habits to prolong their health.

LULAC and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids created a toolkit of curated guidance and resources for Latino youth and communities. The toolkit includes relevant background information on the tobacco industry’s targeting of Latino communities, tobacco products and use, health impacts of tobacco, scenarios on saying no, and messaging to encourage others to avoid tobacco. Check out the toolkit and learn more here: LULAC.org/livetobaccofree

Despite reductions in smoking prevalence achieved since the first Surgeon General’s report on the consequences of smoking in 1964, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Smoking accounts for more than 480,000 deaths in the United States each year, and is a major risk factor for the four leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and stroke. More than 43,000 Hispanics are diagnosed with tobacco-related cancer every year and more than 18,000 die from tobacco-related cancer each year. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanic men and the second leading cause among Hispanic women

 

Over 1.1 million middle and high school students still smoke. Nationwide, 5.8 percent of high school students and 2.3 percent of middle school students currently smoke. The most popular tobacco products among high schoolers are e-cigarettes. About 18.9% of Hispanic high school students reported using e-cigarettes and 23.3% report being current users of any tobacco product. Continuing a long tradition of designing products that appeal explicitly to new users, tobacco companies in recent years have significantly stepped up the introduction and marketing of flavored other tobacco products, particularly e-cigarettes and cigars, as well as smokeless tobacco and hookah.Tobacco companies market products in many kid-friendly flavors such as gummy bear, berry blend, chocolate, peach, cotton candy, strawberry, and grape. Flavored tobacco products play a key role in enticing new users, particularly kids, to a lifetime of addiction. This growing market for flavored tobacco products is undermining the nation’s overall progress in reducing youth tobacco use. 

 

Tobacco use and nicotine, found in commercial tobacco products, have serious impacts on mental and physical health.  Nicotine reaches the brain 10 seconds after entering your body and can have adverse effects on the developing brains of young people. Tobacco use can lead to memory and attention issues, stress, anxiety, and mood swings in young people. 

 
On October 14, 2021, LULAC hosted a virtual workshop with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ Director of Youth Advocacy, Gustavo Torrez. During this session, Gustavo discussed the effects of tobacco use on the physical and emotional health of young people as well as the impacts of tobacco use in the Latino community. 
 

If you wish to learn more about tobacco and LULAC’s partnership with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids please visit LULAC.org/livetobaccofree. Stay tuned for our future events!

 
Watch the Smoking, Vaping and Your Health webinar with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids on YouTube
 

The Economy After a Pandemic: Establishing Latina Entrepreneurs in America

Posted on 10/15/2021 @ 09:15 AM

Tags: Empowerment, Women, Coronavirus

By Priscilla Garcia, Economic Empowerment Program Coordinator

COVID-19 impacted industries and the economy differently and the effects are everlasting. According to UnidosUs, the unemployment rate amongst Latinas in April of 2020 was 20.2% and a 30% loss in Latina-Owned businesses compared to 20% amongst all overall businesses. Latinas were one of the hardest hit demographics by the pandemic, they were the ones most likely to face food and housing insecurities and income losses. In order to help Latina entrepreneurs become successful in their fields, they need the tools necessary on how to run successful and sustainable businesses.

In February 2021 it was reported that there are one million fewer Latinas back in the workforce even though jobs have been opening back up again. 37% of Latinas have reported that the pandemic had a tremendous impact on their finances and still have not been able to recover. Post-pandemic LULAC is aiding in helping Latinos across the country recover from the effects of COVID-19 and aid those who want to take this opportunity to establish their own businesses and aid in stimulating the economy.

In 2021, The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), in partnership with The Coca-Cola Foundation awarded 6 new sites in the first phase of the Latina Entrepreneur Academy (LEA). LEA provides disadvantaged women the skills and resources necessary to be successful entrepreneurs. The academy will provide a series of informational sessions on various topics related to establishing and sustaining a small business: how to build a business plan, budgeting, marketing, networking, enhancing investor strategies, etc, that will better prepare women entering the business arena. Through this initiative, LULAC hopes to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit and provide support to driven Latinas who seek to launch and/or expand business endeavors.

LEA is currently in its third year of programming.Since its inception, LEA has grown tremendously. With so many young Latina entrepreneurs wanting to participate, the program has had to introduce a second phase to meet the needs of so many willing contenders that will take new applications in the Spring of 2022.

A total of 655 Latina entrepreneurs have participated in its 14 academies. At the end of the academy the participants are given the opportunity to compete in a competition amongst their peers for a chance to win some seed money to establish their small businesses. The following businesses have been awarded a total of $6,000 in 2020 to help them succeed as a small business.

Nancy Flores- Austin, TX-
At the end of the academy Nancy’s goal was to open her own digital media company offering representation and coverage of Latinx community news and culture in the Austin, TX area. She wanted a digital media company that would create a community and sense of belonging to allow for those represented to become engaged and involved in local issues and community.

Aura I. Aráuz- Germantown, MD-
House Delikatessen House Delikatessen is a family owned and operated business focused on offering delicatessen products that are high quality, hand crafted and have exceptional flavors. Aura is dedicated to keeping up with the demand fromtheir customers and was planning on expanding her business to offer more products from specialized suppliers.

Trina Price- Austin, TX 3rd place $500-
PEB Trina’s business is PEBSKY Staffing Services, (PSS) a Professional Employer Organization that acts as a co-employer in the hiring process for small/mid-size companies and remote workers. PEBSKY Staffing Services came into existence when Trina was a full-time college student, full-time worker, full-time single parent.

To learn more about Coca-Cola and LULAC’s partnership visit www.lulac.org/academy.

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