Mary Santos doesn’t see her home in Waynesboro Virginia as a place to live; rather, its a place where she “simply exists.” Mary is 68 and before getting hurt on the job she was a truck driver working 60-80 hours and earning $800 a week.
Today, Mary lives off of Social Security. Her benefits provide her with about $700 a month, and she confesses that there are things she lives without that she longs to have, such as cable TV. She knows cable is not a necessity, but her disability prevents her from getting around to do other entertaining things. Then there are the everyday household products – like toilet paper and cleaning supplies – that she runs out of each month and has to wait for her next Social Security check to purchase. She admits to being embarrassed to invite people into her home since she’s never had a chance to truly clean and improve it since first moving in. Mary also lives in an unsafe area, and therefore puts pots and pans by her front door in order to potentially hear if someone tries to break-in during the night.
Mary’s story is a reminder working hard and paying into Social Security is essential for so many seniors to survive post-retirement. The earnings she gets from disability and retirement benefits are a lifeline, even as they don’t even allow her to truly live with dignity. When asked what would happen without her Social Security benefits, Mary says she would be on the streets with nothing at all.
Where would any of us be without Social Security in our future? Watch Mary’s story in her own words, witness the conditions some of America’s elderly are living in, and imagine what would happen if Social Security benefits were cut.
To watch Mary tell her story, click here to be redirected to the YouTube video.