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Living in Poverty: A Spotlight on Women Struggling to Pay the Bills

Gertrude Scott Wesley worked in a yarn factory and then as a household maid. A resident of Cleveland, Mississippi, she is the family matriarch who takes care of a nephew with Down Syndrome.

Now 61, she may not be able to remain in her small rental home. The monthly social security check she receives is for $694, and the local housing authority is trying to increase her monthly rent from $250 to $520. The Mississippi Center for Justice, a public-interest law firm, is challenging that rent increase in court.

Gertrude is one of three women profiled by journalist Barry Yeoman in this special edition of Prime Time Radio that accompanies “Life on the Edge” - Yeoman’s report on older Americans facing poverty that will appear in the March/April issue of "AARP The Magazine".

Yeoman also talks with Prime Time Radio host Mike Cuthbert about Barbara Davis of Jackson, Mississippi, a 61-year-old past PTA president who rations her pain medication to save money and can’t afford a new refrigerator (only her freezer works) with her monthly Social Security check for $679.

Finally, we meet Maggie Walden of Philadelphia who receives a larger check, for $1,540, but whose savings depleted “like running water” when her husband became sick. Walden, 83, doesn’t want to bother her children for help and says she’s just “blessed to be alive.”

Learn more about these women and find out how the government determines who falls below the poverty line.

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