Hattie is 63 years old. She lives in Youngstown, Ohio, where she was born and raised. She worked for 35 years at Brentwood Originals, a pillow factory in Youngstown, as a machine operator. When she started at Brentwood in 1973, Hattie made $1.75 per hour; and after 35 years she was making $11 dollars per hour. Hattie received health insurance through her job and had savings, which have been exhausted since she stopped working a few years ago at the factory. After she left the factory, she struggled to find work, and started collecting Social Security at age 62.
Since Hattie has no savings, she is entirely reliant on Social Security, but her benefit is below the poverty line at $876 dollars per month. Hattie also receives food stamps and visits food pantries so that she can get vegetables, since her food stamps are insufficient to cover her food budget. Every month is a struggle for Hattie. She needs to juggle her bills so she can afford to put gas in her car. She occasionally makes pastries and pies to sell at the farmers’ market for extra money. Despite having worked hard her whole life, Hattie faces a very insecure retirement, and is now starting to study social work so she can help people and continue to work and earn an income. Hattie is also actively organizing in her community to protect Social Security and to strengthen it.