Democrats, Here's Your Talking Points:
Last week, the Rude Pundit offered the tender story of his own father's death and his ability to, say, live because of Social Security survivor benefits. While retirees make up the bulk of Social Security disbursements, a significant portion are survivors benefits, for widows, widowers, and children. Here's the simple math: you start taking the guarantee out of Social Security and make benefits contingent on long-term investment, how, really, are you gonna support survivors? Since politicians are so fond of rattling off stories about "ordinary people" who benefited from something they did or did not do, here's a bunch of 'em (with no vouching for veracity and minor edits, of course). If they all seem to sound the same, it's because that's the point: they fucking are. Consistency is a good thing, right? If it ain't broke . . .
From IR Nee: I also grew up on Social Security survivors benefits - my father (who was raking in the big bucks as a nonunion security guard) died suddenly leaving my Mom (with an 8th grade education and no work experience) with 4 minor children - I was 10. Things went from tight to real goddamn tight, but we had food and heat and the mortgage payment so we got by. My Mom is still getting Social Security survivor benes 40 years later. Couldn't have done that on 2-4% of my Dad's earnings up to his death regardless of how good (lucky) his investments.

From Chuck in North Carolina: My father died when I was six. He left five children (a normal sized household in those days), ages 6 through 15. After he died, our survivors' benefits literally put food in our mouths. My mother had to work two jobs to extend his benefits enough for us to get by Without those benefits, I don't know what we would have done.

Since I went to college, I received a monthly check until I turned 22. That means I received some sort of stipend for 16 years. With the monthly check and part-time jobs, all five of us were able to attend college and become tax-paying contributors to our economy, instead of welfare cases.

From Chris in Illinois: When I was 8, my father died suddenly from a massive stoke. That left my mom with my 6 year old brother and me to raise. The payments along with a life insurance policy my dad had allowed us to stay in our small home and put money away for both of us to go to college.

It was not a lot of money (a few hundred a month), but it made a difference for us.

From Laura: My dad got Social Security disability benefits (the health problems were his fault, to be honest) for a very short time just before Reagan kicked a lot of people off the rolls, so we didn't get much more than a year's worth of checks. But we did get a retroactive payment for the time that his application was pending that allowed us to move into a house in a better school district, pay off dental bills, etc. By the time our dad died, I was nineteen and in college, so I was "too old" for survivors' benefits, although his estranged wife's youngest kid got enough to subsidize her wedding that summer. The survivors' payments for my younger sibs kept our mom afloat, though-- she made maybe $16K a year, tops-- and got the second kid off to college with the basics. The most our mom got from the program was nine months of disability before cancer carried her off, so neither parent drew a single penny of Social Security retirement funds, and the disability/survivors' benefits were very short-term.

From Chris in California: My Mom and Dad were divorced in 1956, when I was 6 and had two younger siblings. My Mom had married right out of high-school, and had no college or job skills when she was left holding us three rug-rats. Daddy was an alcoholic and when he died seven years later, it meant the child-support checks (which I gather were pretty sporadic) were at an end--but my mom was then able to collect Social Security benefits for us. By then, my mom had gone to college, gotten her teacher's credential, and was teaching high school. We were never rich (Christmases were a pair of PJs, a new book, and oranges-and-walnuts from the bowl in the kitchen), but we always had food in the house--and the house, too.

From Paul: I was an unexpected surprise for my parents in 1951 when my mother was nearly 44 and father was 55. Nine years later when my father was contemplating retirement my mother passed away. Needless to say my Dad had to change his plans and continued to work until I graduated high school. Those survivor benefits helped him put clothes on me and contributed to my ability to go to college, with additional considerable help from the federal government through loans, grants, and work study.

I am a teacher now in a public alternative high school, and although I am aware of the shortcomings of government at times, my respect for the previous generations that cared enough to invest in my future remains strong.

From Art in Seattle: In the fall of 1968 I was 16 and a junior in high school. Two older brothers were away at college, a younger brother was a freshman and my little sister was in second grade. We had just moved to a new city in a new state and for the first time in his life my Dad was making $1,000 per month. We thought we were in fat city and then, on October 1, 1968, out of the blue my Dad dropped dead from a massive heat attack at the age of 55. My mom wasn't working and on that day all income stopped.

I don't remember the details, but somehow, someway we started receiving money from Social Security. My Mom got a job but it was a lot less than my Dad had been making and we didn't have a lot of savings. It was Social Security and maybe some pension or veteran's benefits that got us through the next few years and in the end all four of my siblings, and I made it through college.

Social Security helped get us through some very dark days and I presume it is doing the same today for similarly unfortunate families across the country.

From Nona: I was 11 years old when my mother died. She was the breadwinner of the family because my Dad wasn't well. Dad was left to raise two daughters on nothing but the benefits we got from the Social Security after mother died - that and something called surplus food which consisted of big blocks of American cheese and cans of Spam, mostly. I don't know what would have happened to us if we hadn't received that small income from mother's Social Security.

We had no health insurance, of course, and at age 13, I almost died from bronchial pneumonia. We didn't have a telephone, so Sad had to drive into town, find the doctor and bring him out to our house. An injection allowed me to breathe better and I never was hospitalized. We couldn't afford it.

This probably sounds crazy to you but we grew up in the Ozarks and this is all true. I'm almost 60 now.

From Rob: Dad died when I was twelve leaving my mother, my older brother and me with an old house and car and not much else. There wasn't a life insurance policy or money stashed away in a safe deposit box, and Mom, who was fifty, hadn't worked for twenty years. She got a job as a cashier in a department store and the benefits helped bridge the income gap. It wasn't a lot, but it kept us going even though my brother, who was eighteen and didn't go to college didn't receive any money. I went to college on scholarships and the benefits paid my rent (imagine $150 a month paying rent these days). Dad worked hard for thirty years and while he never benefited from his social security payments I was given a normal life because of them.