These days, the only way 81-year-old Judy Allen can afford her groceries is with government assistance.
Even after this year’s Social Security cost of living increase, she struggles to make ends meet with the $1,000 it provides her each month. With the 8.7% cost of living increase, Allen receives about $80 more per month than before.
“It’s really not enough for anybody,” Allen said. “Our rent went up. Food goes up. So really we’re not getting a raise. It evens out.”
Nearly 50% of Americans do not have access to retirement benefits through work, according to AARP. Neither did Allen, so she retired to Montana where she thought her money would go further.
“Moving to Montana was basically my dream retirement,” she said. “I figured the golden years were going to be wonderful.”
Ramsey Alwin, the president of the National Council on Aging, said Allen’s story is one that she’s heard often. Potential legislation to reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits could hurt millions, Alwin said.
“Social Security is all they have,” Alwin said. “For one in four, it is more than 90% of their income in retirement.”
Alwin said those who are thinking of retiring in the next couple of years should think about working longer if they can.
“Consider delaying Social Security,” Alwin said.
For every year that a person delays filing for Social Security, the amount they receive increases by 8% until age 70.
Without assistance from the federal government’s housing choice voucher program, Allen would be spending almost all of her Social Security check on rent each month.
“Sometimes you feel, gosh, am I going to have to go out and get a job again?” she said. “Well, I’m 81 years old. Who’s going to hire me?”
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