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Mary Pederson Hot Springs, South Dakota

Forced out of retirement!

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I am 73 years old and had to go back to work part-time last year after I lost my husband. My Social Security was not enough to cover my basic needs, and I was only eating one meal a day and wondering what I was going to do when I ran completely out of groceries or medication. I was getting weaker from hunger and my medical issues were getting worse.

I qualified for Section 8 rental assistance, but could not find an apartment that met the qualifications on price. I was days away from being homeless and was forced to get into an apartment that did not qualify for Section 8 help. I receive $992 for Social Security. My rent is $500. I spend $330 for Medicare and Supplements, $80 for car insurance and am responsible for utilities and medication co-pays. After rent, Medicare/Supplements, and car insurance, I am left with $82 to pay for the utilities, medication co-pays and groceries. Hence the need for me to go back to work. I was looking forward to “retirement” years so that I could enjoy my great-grandchildren and be active in the community.

Something is seriously wrong when we live in the richest country ever, but I found myself on the brink of starvation. I look good for my age, but I find myself very exhausted at the end of the week from my part-time job where I am on my feet for 5-6 solid hours straight, five days a week. I am not unique. There are many in my community just like me. Please get your neighbors involved. Together we are stronger. We need to fight for expansion of Social Security and the protection of Medicare/Medicaid.