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Faces of Social Security: D. Irene Ramirez

Lives solely on benefits

I live solely on Social Security now. I'm disabled with clinical depression, fibromyalgia and Lyme's disease. I live on $607 a month. More than half of it goes to rent. Most of the rest goes for telephone and utilities and a loan I had to take out for dental care. I've had to quit paying other bills. Creditors call and tell me I'm responsible for what I owe them. I listen to them and I agree. I am responsible. But I have no income to pay them. I just say, "I'm sorry, I just can't pay you."

Irene Ramirez answered questions about socialsecurity

D. Irene Ramirez, 64, California. — Photo by Daniel Hennessey

I get $134 a month in food stamps. Sometimes I buy rice and eat that for a week. I don't have a car. I take the bus to the grocery store and the doctor. They cut off the cable, so I have no TV. I found an Internet service provider for $20 a month — I have to have some entertainment. I go to different sites like Facebook and one for people who love music. When they said during the debt ceiling talks that there might be no Social Security checks, I can't begin to tell you how I felt. I feel like I'm living on borrowed time as far as paying for basic necessities. I just don't know what to say.

Return to the Faces of Social Security slide show. >>

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