In 2012, I had a stroke that left me permanently disabled and unable to work. I applied for Social Security Disability. I was initially turned down and was forced to endure the long process of appeals. During this time, my husband and I relied on his meager Social Security retirement of $291 and the little amount he picked up from odd jobs. Every month we found ourselves holding our breath, worried that we would not make it through the month. The constant stress negatively impacted both my physical and mental health, exacerbating both my epilepsy and PTSD.
Two years after I applied for SSDI, my application was finally approved. I receive $733 a month, but even with my husband’s retirement and income from odd jobs, we are barely able to pay our rent. We go to food banks to supplement our $88 in food stamps. We even save aluminum cans (which are worth 50-65 cents per pound) just to help make ends meet.
There’s no question that our Social Security benefits keep my husband and me afloat, but our story also illustrates the need to not just protect, but expand Social Security to ensure the economic security of our communities.