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The Strength of Social Security

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— Maria Teijeiro/Getty Images

Social Security turns 75 in August. A foundation of retirement security, Social Security has helped people live their lives with independence and dignity. It is an earned benefit that, on average, replaces 40 percent of a retiree’s wages. And because it is risk-free— the only part of the retirement system that is— it is the lifeline that many older Americans, their families, people with disabilities, widows and other survivors count on for their day-to-day lives. Meet a few of faces of Social Security – here in the Bay State.

A surviving son

For AARP Massachusetts State President Linda Fitzgerald, Social Security was always a valued part of her retirement planning. Two years ago, the program was crucial to her family in another way – following the unexpected death of her son-in-law. Her grandson was eleven and received survivor benefits. “Social Security enabled my daughter and her son to stay on their feet. I am so glad this program is there for retirees and other eligible people.”

An unplanned health issue

Brookline couple Peter and Lynn were not prepared when an unexpected disability halted their careers. Peter, 57, worked most of his life as a historian and Lynn, 58, was a costume designer. Peter has been receiving Social Security disability benefits for nearly three years, and his wife now serves as his primary caregiver. Peter uses a power wheelchair for mobility and needs assistance with daily activities.

Right now, Social Security is the couple’s only source of income. Peter has no retirement funds and Lynn has a small amount of retirement savings but is not yet able to access them because of her age.

“We’re both only in our 50’s and you can’t plan for a disability to hit you the way this did. Social Security was imperative for us, it saved our lives,” said Lynn.

A key part of retirement

Antonina, 83, of Marshfield, started receiving Social Security benefits when she was 65 years old. The homemaker raised her four children, and went to work outside the home after her husband passed away.

“I think Social Security was the best piece of legislation ever passed in our country, and I think it will be for all time. Being a senior I know how I look forward to that check. I know a lot of people that rely on Social Security as their sole source of income.”

Help during a faltering economy

Danvers resident Sue opted to begin collecting her Social Security benefits early, after the economic downturn threatened her financial security. Sue, 62, successfully ran a custom drapery business out of her home for years, before the recession took its toll.

“The downturn in the economy caused a noticeable slowdown in my business,” she explained. “Though I just started receiving my Social Security benefit a few months ago, I am glad to have that guaranteed income.”

Keep Social Security strong for future generations

As we celebrate Social Security’s 75th anniversary in August, we need to protect and strengthen Social Security so future generations will continue to have a strong foundation of income they can count on in retirement, disability, or as a survivor for the next 75 years. Learn more.

Tell us your story

We want to know: How has Social Security helped you? Email us at and share your experiences with us.


AARP’s Social Security Channel

Social Security: Who’s Counting On It?

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