The reason this poor woman has so little to show for all her years in the labor force is because she worked in low-wage jobs, which result in getting lower Social Security benefits even when the system is set up to help replace a higher proportion of income than somebody who made more money. She lives in an area where it is apparently difficult for older people to land work, even part-time work.
The fact is, though, she is being penalized for being a woman independent of living off of a man. Our culture heavily penalizes women for doing so.
Yet Hillary Clinton, in a rare moment of cluelessness, waxes on and on about how "caregivers" should get even more in Social Security benefits, not realizing that it isn't married women who live off of men who are most vulnerable to poverty in old age. It is never-married and long-divorced women who are most vulnerable. The "caregivers" are already covered by Social Security and were the first group covered by it when it began in 1935. It specifically targeted women who were financially dependent on men because at that time there was no safety net for these women when they were alone. What Clinton believes--erroneously--is the widespread idea that women make less money than men because they pop in and out of the labor force for years at a time to stay home and care for babies and elderly relatives. This has always been bullshit. Women who don't do this--regardless of marital status and work histories--STILL fare poorly in old age. They are STILL underpaid compared to men across all occupations, with female-dominated occupations the most denigrated of all.
And why is that? It is because of an economic system that is heavily rigged against women because it underpays women believing they are dependents of men and therefore they don't need the money the way men do. It rigs the system against independent women by basically "encouraging" or coercing--depending on your point of view--women to get married and therefore benefitting men who somehow believe they have the right to sexual access of women's bodies by basically starving them if they don't marry. It is a harsh assessment, but it is the truth.
Women by the millions enter into one relationship with a man after another, one marriage after another, not because they are necessarily in love with the men but with the realization they cannot make it financially (especially if there are children involved) without a man. In a very real sense, marriage is a form of prostitution.
From the article:
Woodruff’s $633 monthly benefit is tight, but even someone who receives the average monthly benefit of $1,294 would need some type of financial assistance to get by. According to the advocacy group Wider Opportunities For Women, the monthly expenses for Americans 65 or older in 2013 totaled $1,645 for a single person living in their own house without a mortgage, $1,966 for a renter, and $2,481 for a single person with a mortgage (this includes housing, food, transportation, healthcare and miscellaneous expenses). For couples, it was $2,542, $2,863, and $3,378, respectively.
Clearly, those living solely on social security would need to cut way back on expenses or work to get by. Woodruff’s biggest sacrifice has been not being able to visit her little brother, who lives in a home for the developmentally challenged that’s a two-hour drive away. It’s one reason she’s diligent about saving as much as she can. “If there’s an emergency situation and I have to go see my brother, I can rent a car,” Woodruff says. A lack of a car also makes it harder to get around town, and makes even grocery shopping difficult because it’s hard for her to carry so many bags and the long bus ride means frozen or cold items could spoil. In addition, she’s also had to curtail outings with friends significantly. “My social life is virtually non-existent,” she says. “I can do dinner at a friend’s house or occasionally I might go out if it’s someplace cheap, but going out for a drink or dinner, I just can’t do that anymore.”
If I were her, I would try to find part-time work to augment the Social Security. Myself, I intend to do this for as long as I can.