From the Columbia Journalism Review
What Social Security means to real people
Twenty-nine-year old Laurie Cooper is a self-reliant, hard-working woman who wants to be a firefighter, and she’s trying to become one. Hoping to boost her chances, she is studying at a junior college for an EMT certificate, and works as a volunteer fire fighter in Bondville, a town of about 500. “I like being that person who can take care of people in their traumatic state,” she said. “There are so many reasons I want to be a fire fighter. It’s very emotional.”
Even though she’s on call 24/7, Cooper has a day job in Champaign. She’s a building manager at a church, and makes about $37,000 a year. The church provides health insurance and a pension plan, to which she contributes nine percent of her salary. She now has about $21,000 in the account. If she continues to have employment that offers a pension plan, like municipal fire departments, she’ll be better off than most workers her age. Employer-provided pensions are becoming rarer, and Cooper told me she knows she has to save. “I have saved a lot of money by being frugal,” she explained.
Still, Social Security will be crucial to her future financial security. At sixty-seven, her normal retirement age, the Social Security Administration estimates that her benefit will be about $1500 a month. Who knows whether that will be adequate to live on in forty years? But it will be a floor that Social Security guarantees to everyone.
More To Read
June 24, 2022
The fight for reproductive rights is far from over
June 21, 2022
Thousands of eligible residents can now begin receiving care.