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Faces of Social Security: Joan Guentner

Relied on benefits to raise her children

I've been dependent on Social Security ever since my husband died of cancer in 1965, leaving me with eight children, the youngest only 2 months old. I was not quite 35 at the time, and would have been applying for welfare, but with Social Security I was able to care for my children.

Social Security: Getting the Story Straight (Nov. print),x-default

Joan Guentner, 80, Wisconsin. — Photo by Jose Mandojana

Two years later, I married a man with one child and we had a daughter, but on my 45th birthday, he had a stroke, leaving him paralyzed on one side, so I applied for disability benefits for him and my youngest, who was 5. I relied mostly on Social Security to raise my children, along with part-time work until I turned 62, when I applied for benefits for myself. I have been an AARP Tax-Aide volunteer for 19 years. I am also a ballroom dancer, dance every week, work out at the Y lifting weights, own my home and have a big vegetable garden. I am very grateful for Social Security, as without it, I surely would have been dependent on welfare.

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