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To eat or to heat, that is the question

At least it may be for many of the nation's elderly this fall, says a National Council of Senior Citizens report. The report says the average US household pays roughly 6 percent of income on home energy costs. But 70 percent of households made up of low-income elderly residents spend at least 20 percent for energy, even after they get federal energy assistance. One-fourth spends more than 40 percent of income on winter heating. For some, heating bills during the coldest months exceed income. President Reagan's '83 budget would slash federal energy aid from $1.8 to $1.3 billion.

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The council says that cut ''would make 'heat or eat' a national policy for the poor and elderly.''

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