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Getting by on Social Security

Before retiring, James Gomes said he often wasted his regular paychecks from General Electric. Arlene Starr wishes she’d saved – like her sister did. And immigrant Trung Quang Pham’s low income made it tough to set money aside.

They are residents of the Savin Hill Apartments in Boston, most of whom are “pretty much on fixed incomes,” said apartment manager Sandra Baker of CMJ Management Co.

They are not alone either. Millions of retirees rely on Social Security’s fixed monthly pensions, which average $1,181. The federal pension program provides the vast majority of retirement income for nearly one in four retired couples and nearly half of the elderly living alone. And new research for the first time determined that a large swath of the elderly leave this world with little or no assets left in savings and personal retirement accounts.

In the first of two videos, retirees in the Savin Hill Apartments generously agreed to discuss the issues they face for Squared Away. The second video – about their financial decisions and regrets over a lifetime – appears Thursday.

Retirement: Getting by on Social Security from Squared Away on Vimeo.

4 Responses to Getting by on Social Security

  1. David Wray says:

    Regional differences are significant. $1,181 goes a lot further in Topeka, KS than Boston, MA.

  2. Carl says:

    The cost of living index has been in a state of flux ever since changes were made by the Clinton Administration. The “market basket” of items does not reflect the items needed by retirees for “living.” The American Institute for Economic Research calculates the inflation is very close to 8 percent for the average citizen, versus the few percent using the government’s “market basket.”

  3. Dave says:

    All you have to do is look around; the poor are everywhere.

  4. Craig says:

    Life is all about choices. All of these people consciously decided to keep “kicking the can” down the road and let the government take care of them. None of these people said they were unable to save, they just chose not to save. Yes, now it is too late, but whose fault is it?