Phyllis S.

At 63 and single, Phyllis just started collecting early retirement from her Social Security insurance program. After contributing to Social Security for over 40 years, it accounts for 50% of her income.

Unable to collect Medicare until she is 65, she is also responsible for her own health care. 

Like most industrious Baby Boomers, Phyllis started working in high school. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, her parents instilled values in her, such as honesty, integrity, and caring for others.  She has been contributing to Social Security since the 1960’s, and has also actively contributed to her community by volunteering for a variety of civic organizations, including hospitals, museums and non-profits.

The other 50% of her income comes from her part-time job at a bead store, teaching, and a modest savings.  Phyllis would not be collecting Social Security early if she were able to find full-time employment. 

Like many others of the older unemployed, she gave up after looking for three years with no luck, adding that today, “I don’t know of places that are hiring people who are 63 years old.” 

When asked why Social Security is important to her, Phyllis responded, “I’d be on welfare if I weren’t able to pull this money in.”  She says that if she lost her benefits, she would probably have to sell her house and everything in it.

She may have to move in with her 90-year old parents or brother, or find out a way for all of them to live together.  It’s such a painful thought that she says, “I haven’t wanted to think about it.”

Phyllis believes that Social Security needs to be protected.  “I’ve always paid my taxes, I have no credit card debt, and have worked all of these years,” she says.  “I have not taken advantage of the system and now need support for the work I’ve done.”

This story was submitted courtesy of the Social Security Matters campaign of the OWL - The Voice of Midlife and Older Women.