"Raising the retirement age would inflict further hardship among a group of workers who are likely to face health and economic problems in their 60s." –Doug Hart, President, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans
"Of all the lies and confusion that still surround the Affordable Care Act, perhaps the greatest is that it is bad for seniors." - Dave Meinell, President, Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans
"My father died when I was three. Because of Social Security (survivors) benefits, my Mom, my younger sister and I survived." – Diane Fleming, DC Alliance Member
"We fear that Congress will balance the budget on the backs of the 98 percent, which is working Montanans and retired Montanans. We simply cannot afford these devastating cuts to vital services such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," –John Forkan, President, Montana Alliance for Retired Americans
"Along with national parks and Social Security, Medicare is one of the best ideas we Americans have ever devised." -Tim Cunningham, New Mexico Alliance Member
"Seniors have earned and deserve their Social Security checks, and they shouldn't have to go to Congress every 10 years and beg for the program to be renewed." –James Parent, Alliance for Retired Americans Regional Board Member
"Today's retirees paid Medicare and Social Security taxes in every paycheck we ever earned. Now that we are retired, these programs help us to be able to stay healthy and pay our bills. They are the promise we make to people who worked hard all their lives, and we need to keep that promise for today’s workers." –Tony Fransetta, President, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans
"Today's seniors want to lower the budget deficit. We do not want a large debt to be the legacy we leave to future generations, but we should not punish people who have paid Social Security taxes all their lives." –Jim Moore, President, North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans
"Social Security should remain what it has been for 77 years – a solid, reliable way that generations of workers have been able to retire with dignity, economic security, and peace of mind." –Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The fight for Social Security and Medicare is part of a larger fight for justice and fairness"—Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The health insurance reform helps not just seniors, but also middle-class families and young Americans, who are just starting to see the benefits. Don’t let Republicans take all that away." –Don Rowen, President Emeritus, Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans
"Honoring the promise of Social Security and Medicare should not be a partisan issue. Honoring the contributions that we make throughout our working years so that we may feed and clothe ourselves, keep a roof over our heads and those of our family, there is no reason for that to be a hotly contested partisan issue." –Edward Coyle, former Executive Director, Alliance for Retired Americans
"We need to make sure that people who need Social Security to make ends meet will have it, and not fall victim to ill-informed and unnecessary cuts to these vital programs."
–Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
Pictured above: Jerry Conner of Londonderry, New Hampshire (in photo at left with his parents and sister) When Jerry's mother died, his father used Social Security survivor benefits to help pay for a baby sitter for the kids before and after school. Hear from Jerry Conner here.
Walter Jones, a Suitland, Maryland senior said:
“I was born September 21, 1935 so I’ll be 75 years old September the 21st. Social Security means a lot to me, from the beginning of the time it started up until today. I know it’s been good because my family has received it and I receive it now. It’s something that needs to remain intact.”
Donald Singer is a member of the national and Florida Alliance. He is also on the Executive Board of NYCARA. Singer said:
"I was 3 years old, my brother was 8 years old when our father died. The year was 1941. Several years later, when I was old enough to better understand, our mother told us that she was one of the first recipients of Survivors' Insurance under the 1935 Social Security Law. (I believe that such payments began about 1940-1941).
"She received about $60.00 a month for her two sons. I knew that she appreciated that monthly check. She had to get a job in a Sweatshop (piece work) to support her sons. $60.00 went far in 1941.
"Social Security is a lot more than a pension."
"When my father died on Christmas Day, 1965, he left my mother with four children. I was four years old, the youngest, and my oldest sister was 13. Thanks to Social Security Survivors Benefits, my mother was able to care for us and provide a middle-class upbringing. Without the insurance protection for which my father paid, I do not know how we would have made it.
"Congress should absolutely keep its promise. The system is financially sound and working people paid for the benefits they will receive. What I don't understand is, why do they stop taxing income over $106,000, when one-third of all earnings are made by people with income over $250,000. Fairness would dictate that it is better to forgo taxes on the first dollar of wages instead of the last! Someone making $1 million can more readily afford to pay payroll taxes than someone working full time for just $20,000."
James Devine of Rahway, NJ
"As a result of a car accident in 2000, my then 41 year old wife suffered a stroke and almost died. It left her with complete paralysis on her right side and destroyed 95% of her speaking ability along with other cognitive abilities. Needless to say, she could not work anymore and was approved for Social Security Disability. The current $800 monthly check covers the $100 for Medicare leaving us a modest $700. It's not a lot but it helps with some of the bills, especially when I was out of work between October, 2008 and January, 2010. I'm now 60 years old and was forced to finally take a job paying a third less than my 32 year career job was paying. All the more reason for the rich and powerful to keep their hands off Social Security."
Leo Mola of Indiana
"Social Security was my mother's only income when she retired. She lived alone."
Katherine Hairston of Martinsville, VA (retired educator)
"Social Security is something needed for the retired elderly, injured or sick Americans. Where would the country be if there were no Social Security? A person gets too old to work, leaving an opening for the younger unemployed to step in. We are blessed that back in the day, our Congressmen believed in God ... and were concerned about the Senior citizens of the day. There are Americans that depend totally on Social Security. But some of our present Congressmen who have no need of Social Security seem to care less. Thank God they have not ruined it, yet."
-Santiago J. Lopez of New Mexico (IBEW electrician, local 611)
"My husband has been a hard worker since the age of 8 with his 1st job on the books at the age of 12, so he has been paying social security for a very long time. In 1998 he was injured on the job and the insurance company has refused to take responsibility for his injury. We have been in a battle with them and attorneys and doctors for over 10 years. Thank god for Social Security, they stepped up and my husband has been receiving his benefits for the last 5 yrs. Without Social Security we would not be able to survive.
"[Social Security] is part of basic human right to be able to support ones family or self when age or illness or injury prevents one from earning a living."
-Elizabeth K Smith of Atwater, CA (CWA local 9333)
"I had two sisters whose husbands became completely disabled at age 50 with three children each and they survived on Social Security Disability. Also, my mother and father survived on Disability alone when they were 62. In addition, my in-laws survived on Social Security alone when they became 62. Without Social Security, they all would have been destitute. I know many friends who have told me similar stories as to how their parents survived on Social Security."
-Richard Cronin of Jackson, NJ (NTEU, NARFE)
"When I was 14 years old, my mother who was working as an elementary school teacher was killed instantly in an automobile accident. This left my father alone to raise four children. He wisely saved the Social Security Survivor's Benefits that we received from my mother's tragic death to pay for our college educations. It is very likely that the four of us would not be successful, contributing members of society today without the help of Social Security.
"Social Security has been the best anti-poverty program in the nation's history. Millions of seniors would be living in poverty today without it. Not to mention the millions of disabled Americans who rely on it as well."
-Jay Blain of Murray, Utah
"People who have worked all their lives depend on [Social Security] to keep abreast of inflation. I saved money for my retirement but watch inflation and the collapse of the stock market eating up my hard earned savings."
-Dr. Mary Micco of Indiana, Pennsylvania
"My family were farmers in Nebraska during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. In 1942 my family and relatives sold possessions and moved to Oregon for an opportunity to work in the shipyards and logging. It was during this time that my father first was covered by Social Security. By 1947, he contracted cancer and died, leaving my mother with four children (7 months to 8 years). Thank God for social security! It was our lifeblood until we each turned 18."
-Jerry Wilkins of Portland, Oregon
"My father died at age 62 in 1947, when I was 13 years old. It was his Social Security that kept my mother and I from going under. While my mother worked as a nurse, her pay by itself was just not enough to cover our living expenses. I have paid into Social Security since my first full-time job, at age 17, and now my husband (age 85) and I (age 75) depend on our Social Security and his small pension to keep us going. Fortunately I have a small IRA (which like everyone else's has lost money) and we both, former college professors, have rapidly vanishing annuities from TIAA-CREF. But our Social Security is our mainstay!
"A promise made should be a promise kept. Most older Americans depend on Social Security, and it and Medicare are great success stories. They should not be tampered with!"
-Dottie Gutenkauf of Plainfield, New Jersey
"I have no retirement other than Social Security. I have worked all my adult life and been single parent. I would really like to see the federal government start to repay the social security fund for all of the monies borrowed to fund other things.
"[Social Security] is all many of us will have, if we live long enough to retire."
-Stacia Haley of Seattle, Washington
"My parents were immigrants from Wales. They were proud to be able to vote after they became U.S. citizens. Dad, a blue-collar factory worker, was a big supporter of FDR, and he and Mom always voted for him. Two years after I was born, FDR initiated Social Security, and we started paying into it through Dad's payroll. When he died of a heart attack aged 57, it was SS that helped pay the rent until Mom could get a job, and then she paid into it. It helped her stay in a good assisted living facility in her old age, after she had a stroke. I've paid into SS since I was 16 years old, and now, although I also have a small pension and (presently) a part-time job, it helps to keep a roof over my own head."
-Barbara Owen of Massachusetts
"At age 10 my father died. Without Social Security I do not know how my mother and a brother and sister could have survived. My mother still had to work but she did not make as much as my father. When I graduated from high school I entered an electronic trade school where I still received Social security to help pay tuition. I got a good job working for the telephone company and was able to save and buy a house and put my children through college. I would have not been able to do that except for Social Security."
- David Hurlburt of Pacifica, California
"My father worked all his life, much of the time a self-employed mechanic, later maintaining old equipment at a cherry-processing plant. Mother worked hard all her life also. Early in their marriage, while Father repaired cars, towed wrecks, fixed flat tires, etc., she assisted in the business by pumping gas, checking oil, washing windshields, selling groceries, etc. (all the time watching her young children) at their small gas station/garage/grocery store in the Columbia River Gorge. While my sister and I were growing up, Mother stayed at home, raising a large garden and canning or freezing the results, sewing our clothes-- being a mother. And, she volunteered: at school, at church, and in the neighborhood. When we were in elementary school, in the fall she worked graveyard shift at a cannery, processing pears and apples. Later, she did dressmaking, worked in the kitchen of the hospital and eventually in the office of the Superintendent of Schools. Daddy was close to 70 when he retired and began collecting Social Security. Following a horrendous car accident, Mother retired at age 59 to take care of our permanently handicapped father. She was denied Social Security Disability, although she also was seriously injured. Although they had both worked hard all their lives, there wasn't a lot of savings and much of it had gone to doctor bills, and they survived on Social Security and a small Veterans' pension awarded to Daddy, a WWI veteran, until Mother was old enough to qualify for Social Security. Following his death, Mother survived on her Social Security and a small monthly check from her few years working for the school district. A few years later, Mother remarried. Her new husband had also been self-employed and worked long and hard, also taking care of an ill spouse until her death. He and Mother survived on their combined Social Security incomes, her small pension and a small amount her husband received from the sale of his business years before. Now that my husband and I are retired, I admire my parents so much for the way they took care of themselves. They lived through the "great depression" and really understood how to make do with less. I worked for the school district for 32 years and have a good pension, my husband has a small one, and we are in a much better financial situation than our parents were. However, we, too, depend on Social Security, added to our pensions and some savings, in order to live comfortably. Without Social Security, we would be unable to maintain our home and our life would change a lot.
"The promise was made many years ago that we pay in when we work, and then collect after we have worked long and hard. Our children and their children pay in so we can live more comfortably, just as we paid in so our parents and their parents could live more comfortably. This is a contract that should not be broken."
-Val Jack of St. Helens, Oregon
"Social Security was a life saver for me. I had to retire at 62 1/2 due to osteoarthritis in my spine and hands. I could no longer carry heavy files and could not sit at the computer all day. If I sat too long, I could hardly walk when I went to get up. That interfered with my job duties. I was lucky enough to have enough years in the retirement system to retire and get my pension. The extra money from Social Security enabled me to retire when I needed to. I would have liked to work until I was 65 but no one knows when health problems will limit them. Thank heaven we have the Social Security system to help us in our old age."
-Diane Carmody of Florida, New York
"As a social worker, I have seen people who worked hard all their lives but did not have a retirement plan or the ability to save, have at least a place to live and money for food."
-Liliam of White Sulphur Springs, New York
"My father died when I was 8 years old. He left a 37-year old widow with 3 minor children including me. This was in the 50's when outside jobs for women were scarce. Social Security benefits permitted my mother to work from home and take care of us. We could not have survived without these benefits. When I was 16, my mother died. Social Security helped me survive until I graduated high school and got a full-time job. Social Security fulfilled its promise and should continue to do so. What else is government there for, but to protect its citizenry through these safety nets.. It should spend less money on armaments and war and more on social programs, both here and abroad.
"In an age when employers are de-funding pensions, if they ever had them to begin with, and when even those who have defined benefit plans, 401(k)s and/or IRAs have seen their retirement investments evaporate, what will we be left with if Social Security is compromised by Congress? As my mother was fond of saying, "What the little bird shot at." I always find it "amusing" that these folks who are dependent on taxpayer money for their livelihood want to cut our benefits and raise the retirement age. Your group and other like minded groups need to continually counter the statements of those who say that Social Security is going broke with facts and with proposals to ensure it remains solvent."
-Mary A. Connelly of Santa Fe Springs, California
"My sister Nan's retirement income is miniscule, at best. Not only was she forced to drop out of all "fun" activities that cost money, but also she was reduced to sometimes eating only one meal a day. I tried to help her as much as possible but, being on a fixed income myself, it was often quite difficult. Because of major health issues, she was unable to work in order to obtain any more funds, even though she continued to tithe to her church. Once Nan was able to receive Social Security Disability, her entire life changed for the better. While she still doesn't have the money for truly frivolous activities, she now can seek medical care when necessary, pay her bills when due, and not worry about losing her home, utilities being disconnected, or being unable to buy groceries. Social Security is such a blessing!
"Social Security is more than a promise - it is a solemn pledge made over 70 years ago to help Americans who devoted their lives to working the American Dream. This pledge mandates that our country is obligated to those of us who have worked our entire lives to make America a better place for subsequent generations.Congress should not be allowed to break its promise - ever."
- Ellen Phillips of Ooltewah, Tennessee
"My wife was a single mother with legal custody of her teen age brother when we met. She had been holding two or three jobs at a time just to make ends meet when she was hired at the steel mill. She spent two years as a laborer and inventory clerk when she became an apprentice electrician. After surviving the layoffs of the 1980's she became a Journeyman Electrician. She had been in a serious car accident in her 20's and injured her back several times on the job. Her spine finally had enough and she had to have a career ending surgery. Her employer canceled her "sickness and accident" benefits after one year (she could not directly attribute her problems to a Worker Comp injury). It took almost four years to finally get Social Security Disability. Fortunately, my UNION NEGOTIATED family health care insurance and my UNION NEGOTIATED wages were enough to get us through the hard times. We can see some light at the end of the tunnel now. If there was no such thing as Social Security Disability (and us being married) she would have lost everything - her car, home, and maybe even her daughter. She was a productive, hard working American all her life. Social Security gave her the "safety net" she deserved.
"... [Social Security] is as much needed now as when it was created. With the push by corporations away from "defined benefit" pensions and toward IRA's and 401K's - there is a very real possibility that workers can reach retirement age with no choice but to continue to work the rest of their life."
- Gary Gaines of Granite City, IL (USW SOAR)
"My husband died when I was 60. As my husband's beneficiary I received money from his insurance policy and a life time small stipend from his union benefits. I did not want to take Social Security widows benefits yet as I was advised by the Social Security agent I loose 25% per month because of my age. If I waited until I was 65 I would receive a larger payment. With very careful budgeting I held out and began taking SS benefits at 65. Social Security allows me to maintain a normal life style. Without it I would be either living with relatives or out on the street. My husband and I both worked and contributed to Social Security and it has made the difference between life and death for me. I am able to be a contributing citizen helping to keep the economy going.
"Social Security should be there for those who pay into it, like any good insurance policy. Especially today as more and more companies do not have a pension plan. Employees are no longer valued. We must not let Congress break this promise. A promise is something that one should not break."
- Grace P. Sloan of Escondido, California
"In 2000, a downsizing at my job cost me my position and I was 61 yrs of age. We struggled to keep COBRA medical benefits and later I was so glad I did. Unemployment and his SS kept our bills paid.. In 2001 he was diagnosed with cancer (age 66) and by December cancer had won out. I was now age 63 but because of the eligibility of SS death benefits on my husband I could draw on his SS until I turned 65 and 2 months. At that age, in reviewing SS benefits, my many years of work actually netted me approx $100 more a month than staying on my husbands benefits. I could not have stayed in my home nor be self-sufficient if it were not for my SS benefits. My home would have had to been sold. Most likely I would have had to move in with one of my children due to the cost of living in our area. I went to work at the age of 16 and worked until age 61 and paid into SS during those years..I remain so thankful for this program and am still living in my home, caring for myself and I hope to remain so for many years to come.
"I do believe that Congress should not break the promise of Social Security benefits and program. Americans have worked and paid into the program for many years with expectations they could count on the funds for retirement. For the majority of Americans, even many with additional education, the jobs they work may only have an income that pays the bills but doesn't stretch far enough to invest in stocks and bonds, etc. and the market is so volatile that investments are not constant. Too much has been lost to too many. Many can't afford a broker nor monies to invest nor do they have the knowledge to do so. Even with knowledge doesn't mean you will be successful at investing. Education for children is horrendously expensive, rent, homes, etc. If enough people don't retire, job turn arounds don't exist either...so, where do new jobs come from? If you are on SS and that is all you have and all of a sudden you no longer have those monies, how do you survive at an elderly age. Who pays the cost then; how many can survive on the streets? Suicides??? Will Welfare pay for adults/elderly to survive. I truly feel that Congress needs to keep their promise and continue to "really" represent the Americans/citizens of the United States of America!"
- Sharon Liner of Tacoma, Washington
"I was about 6 years old when Social Security was passed, and my father, being a farmer, didn't at first see the benefit of it. I remember discussions about the promise that it would never be used as identification, and I'm sure that if he knew we would now have it used as a primary ID, he would never have gotten it, but he did get it, and he and my mother lived happily in retirement for several years because of it. Who ever heard of a farmer retiring! It was never thought of back then! But my parents lived happily in retirement for about 15 years that they would have had to struggle through if it were not for Social Security. I am a widow now and living on Social Security myself. I don't know what I would do without Social Security as it is my main source of income now that my husband is gone. That's 2 generations that have been blessed by Social Security! Thank you for the opportunity to express my thankfulness for Social Security. Happy Anniversary!
"I think that if Congress should be allowed to break the Social Security promise, it would bankrupt our country. I don't know what many of our senior citiizens would do without Social Security. I'm sure I'm not the only widow who is now relying on Social Security as her main source of income. Many couples too, would be hard hit to make "ends" meet, I'm sure. I think it would be a "fiasco". I hope our young people think enough of our senior citizens to take care of them in their old age. I pitty our country if they don't."
-Barbara Grey of Dumont, New Jersey
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