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Faces of Social Security

Sharing an American safety net

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CINDY STURGEON, 50

Raised on it

"Nothing can compensate for life without your father, but Social Security sustained us."
Read Cindy's story

  • CINDY STURGEON, 50

    Raised on it

    "Nothing can compensate for life without your father, but Social Security sustained us."
    Read Cindy's story

  • GARY DEL MASTRO, 65

    American dream chaser

    "There are no jobs here for older men, even those willing to do anything."
    Read Gary's story

  • JEANETTE TRAHAN, 69

    Master budgeter

    "I don't overspend on anything."
    Read Jeanette's story

  • JOAN GUENTNER, 80

    Ballroom dancer

    "I had 8 children and would have been on welfare."
    Read Joan's story

  • MARGIE METZLER, 68

    Turned the heat off

    "I would definitely be homeless if I didn't get Social Security, no question."
    Read Margie's story

  • ROLF K. FISCHER, 80

    Home-bound but healthy

    "As I write this, I thank God for support from family and Social Security."
    Read Rolf's story

  • MELANIE L. GRIFFIN, 56

    Graduate student

    "My dad is gone, but his love of education lives on because of Social Security."
    Read Melanie's story

  • ARTHUR RUBIN, 72

    Proud social worker

    "Without Social Security or something equally guaranteed, I don't understand how people could survive once they got older."
    Read Arthur's story

  • TIMOTHY M. MODLIN, 63

    Retired educator, cancer survivor

    "Social Security also helps me with my mortgage payments, which take half my income. I probably would have lost my home without it."
    Read Timothy's story

  • ROSEMARY MCGOVERN, 63

    Frugal saver

    "My husband and I are planners. But you can't plan for everything. That's where Social Security is a real safety net."
    Read Rosemary's story

  • D. IRENE RAMIREZ, 64

    Music lover who stretches her check

    "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."
    Read D. Irene's story

  • KAZ FUJIMOTO, 71

    Post-retirement worker

    "We worked for this, and Washington lawmakers have no right to take it away from us."
    Read Kaz's story



Americans come together when it comes to Social Security. Initially designed to provide a basic income for retirees and their families, Social Security is widely considered the most successful government program in the nation's history.

Americans support its values of shared risk and responsibility, mutual support between generations and concern for the most vulnerable among us. They appreciate the system's fairness: Workers pay into it to earn retirement benefits that are paid regardless of wealth, profession or state of the economy.

Social Security also provides insurance against the tragic turns of life. It helps support people who can no longer work because of illness or injury, or who have lost a family breadwinner prematurely.

Today, 60 million people collect benefits. Here's what 12 say the program has meant to them.

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