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Old 03-06-2017, 11:46 PM
5,426 posts, read 3,449,470 times
Reputation: 13709


People who get a $56,000 or $58,000 per year pension and only $150 Social Security per year are not part of this discussion, and that person is most obviously not living solely on his or her Social Security. The focus is on people who get a more normative amount of Social Security, to give others an idea of how it is to live solely on Social Security as one's sole source of income. (my take on the thread from the OP's description)

The following are just maximums for people who racked up maximum taxable earnings each year. Interesting though. But misleading to more average people who definitely do not rack up maximum taxable earnings.

The Maximum Social Security Benefit for 2017 | Money

"For someone who racked up maximum taxable earnings each year, and who reaches the FRA of 66 in 2017, the maximum benefit would be $2,687 a month, or $32,244 a year. But that's only if you racked up maximum taxable earnings each year. By contrast, the average monthly benefit is just $1,342 a month.

There's also what we might call a maximum maximum benefit. If you wait till age 70 to file, you get delayed retirement credits that boost your benefits by 7% to 8% a year for each year you wait. If you claim at age 70 this year, the maximum benefit is $3,538, or $42,456 a year.

Only about 2% of workers wait to 70 to claim.

Qualifying for the maximum Social Security benefit is very difficultit's the equivalent of winning a benefits Powerball. To get the highest benefit possible at your full retirement age (FRA), your income needs to have been at or above the Social Security earnings ceiling (the amount of income subject to payroll tax) each year for at least 35 years since age 22. The payroll earnings cap is $127,200 in 2017; in 1982, 35 years ago, it was $32,400. Only about 6% of workers earn above the maximum in any given year."

Last edited by matisse12; 03-07-2017 at 12:56 AM..
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Old 03-07-2017, 01:57 AM
Location: Silicon Valley
18,094 posts, read 22,960,701 times
Reputation: 35240
Originally Posted by arwenmark View Post
I know there must be more than just me living retirement on just SS and nothing else. So lets here from you. We retired to a much cheaper place to live, but even so we are going in the hole each month on just food, insurance and utilities.
Neither my husband nor myself are in any condition to work at all, We have a few things we can try to sell on Craig's list or Ebay, but that is about it.

So I guess the life on a shoe string is for us. Any others? how are you faring?

It would be nice if this thread did not turn into criticism of how we and others got into this situation.
Haven't read the whole thread, so forgive me if it's already been covered.

I'm on SSI and get $895/month. The key is to get into subsidized senior housing, that's based on your income. I now have a Section 8 voucher, but you can find senior places that only charge you 30% of your income, which is also basically what Section 8 vouchers give you.

Then, apply for the cheapest health insurance you can find. The cheapest options I know of in CA are through your county health clinics.

Then, find out from your city/county about all of the free/cheap services that are available, including free food.

I get cheap rent, free health care, and lots of free food.

Also, you should ask your utility companies about discounts for seniors and/or low-income people. For instance, there is a federal program called HEAP (forget what it stands for), where you can get hundreds of dollars a year paid to your utility company. I get around $350/year credit on my power bill annually this way.

If you own your own home, they will also often come weatherize your place for free.

Just find out about all of the programs for low income seniors and take advantage of them.

And, if you own your own home, and don't feel like you can afford it, look into selling it and moving into subsidized senior housing, so you have more disposable money every month.

You can't spend much money on anything that's not a necessity. And you may have to decide what's more important and change priorities. For instance, I want expensive really high speed internet. So, I never go out to eat - or very, very rarely do. I choose to spend money on internet instead of going out to eat. I just eat well at home, instead.

Tonight, for dinner, I had really yummy chicken, rice, spinach, onion soft burritos with a yummy sauce I got cheap at Grocery Outlet. The chicken, rice and onions were free from the food bank. The tortillas, frozen chopped spinach and sauce I got cheap at Grocery Outlet. I also had some red wine I got cheap at Grocery Outlet - yummy red wine blend for only $2.50/bottle. And I had some walnuts, cranberries (free from food bank) and dark chocolate chips I got cheap at Grocery Outlet for a munchy dessert.

I watched a free movie on YouTube.

It can be done. You just have to figure out how to live within your means, and take advantage of what you can locally, through county services and your local senior center.
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Old 03-07-2017, 05:48 AM
Location: Planet Woof
3,139 posts, read 3,508,503 times
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Great info, NMS! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 03-07-2017, 06:27 AM
1,980 posts, read 1,307,003 times
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Originally Posted by Marble cake View Post
Yes because my husband and I combined make over 40,000 a year, both places don't have mortgages, and taxes combined are still much less than one would pay on just one house. I'm shut everything down in one place when I am in the other. And we both worked. I get a small pension, as well. So technically it's not JUST on SS.

I don't have 2 places and snowbird, one of the places is a small condo to,which I snowbird too. Your making it sound more than what it is. We drive down, I watch our spending like a hawk. And, yes, there are times I have to draw from savings to meet my monthly bills if something comes up. That's why I will sell the north home.

You made it sound like I was lying, and your post sounded very unkind. That really hurt my feelings, as I am an honest person just sharing.

Have a blessed day.
I don't think you are lying at all, it wasn't meant to sound like that.

I have a ways to go, but I'm just worried about my wife and I making it in retirement with one house and far more income that that due to an added very small pension and a 401K. No way we could do it on SS alone. So it was more like a "wow" than anything. Even if you shut one place down, its still an expense. I always figured if we just had SS we would be in BIG trouble.

So nice job.
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Old 03-07-2017, 06:29 AM
Location: RVA
2,165 posts, read 1,266,382 times
Reputation: 4456
So how is asking about "just living on SS", by now limiting it to "around the average amount average people get" in any way different from all the hundreds (?) of threads about being frugal, living on a shoestring, etc,
etc, that already exist??

That is why I stated the premise is nonsense. Without a definitive reason and set of definitions that would stake out the boundaries of the discussion, you get exactly the kind of mean spirited intended snarky comments directed at marble_cake that just wanted to contribute.

As stated in tons of other threads, there are lots of people just on SS. Some people did it intentionally, even earning good money, "with a live for today, buy what I need for tomorrow today" philosophy, (ie. 2 homes, RV, vacation timeshares, whatever) and then by working until FRA, as a couple they could easily have $5000 a month, tax free, inflation adjusted income for life, and still qualify for all kinds of breaks because they are "just in SS". Thats equal to around $80k a year before taxes when working. No one is going to argue that's a rough living, but if you are living in SF, NYC, Boston etc, which may be where they've been their whole lives, and where all family is, and want to stay. How is that discussion any less valid?

And another couple could have that exact same SS only income, and have had horrible luck like marble_cake, and had to sell everything to pay for "whatever", but they stil have "just their SS". No less valid, and entirely different outcome and problems.

It's like many people just look for ways to commiserate about their less than desirable situation, hoping that some unsuspecting poster will trip up so they can pounce. The OP even ended his post with a hope that no one is critical of how they got in this situation, followed by many posters predicting it surely will. And no one did. But there were still snarky comments leveled, none by the more fortunate.

Last edited by Perryinva; 03-07-2017 at 06:51 AM..
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Old 03-07-2017, 09:12 AM
Location: equator
3,436 posts, read 1,532,968 times
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I will echo that it is all about trade-offs. Our combined SS and interest income is less than $2,000 and so far, we are "getting by". But, as I've said before, making that work involved:

Retiring to a developing country with frustrating and incomplete infrastructure

No cars -- busses or taxis (not a walk-able area)

Probably little or no real travel in the future

Very limited eating out or entertainment---we just have Netflix, no cable

Really watch the groceries....very little meat, no prepared foods

Right now we've maintained ACA insurance but when Medicare comes up, I don't think we can afford paying 2 Part B's either

We will have the $80/couple national health plan here but its sub-par to No. American care

I'm an avid reader with no library now, so rely on BookBub or the online library rentals from our former home.

However, we are in a new condo right on the beach, so there's the trade-off ($40 annual property tax)

Do we know if we'll always love it? No. But nothing in life is certain....
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Old 03-07-2017, 10:44 AM
Location: In the house we finally own!
525 posts, read 263,937 times
Reputation: 2495
My husband and I live on my SSDI, which is $1357 per month. My medicare premiums are paid by medicaid. I take a lot of medications, and the copays were taken care of by SS until this year, so now I have to pay them, and it is a considerable amount when on a fixed income. It is difficult to pay the copays for doctor and hospital visits and tests.

My husband has been trying to get SSDI for 7 years, but since it is a mental issue, they keep denying him.

We moved to a small town with a lower COL, but the state we moved to has sales tax on food, which is new to us. We get $16/month on food stamps. We go to the food banks every three months, which is as often as they allow. In the summer, we go fishing and eat a lot of catfish. The cost of the licenses is more than made up by the amount of fish we can catch and eat. We rarely eat out, and try to plan meals around what we get from the food banks. We have applied for heating assistance, but haven't heard anything yet. All of our furniture was either given to us or we got because someone left them by the dumpster or curb. We rarely buy new clothes unless absolutely needed, and then we get them at thrift stores or Walmart.

We have a cheap tv antenna, which gets us two channels because we are in a rural area. We go to the library and get books and movies for entertainment. We go to church, sunday school, and sometimes a bible class so that is pretty much our social life.

We are barely getting by, but that's ok. We still try to enjoy life to the fullest and the things we hold most dear- family, friend, pets and each other, are enough to make us happy.
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Old 03-07-2017, 12:10 PM
Location: In the house we finally own!
525 posts, read 263,937 times
Reputation: 2495
Originally Posted by Pyewackette View Post
So now we're going to ignore things like medical care and good full service hospitals?

Maybe you can afford to do that. I sure can't.

There is also the issue of social isolation. Also services such as transportation.

Those very very small towns that are so cheap to live that you "don't need subsidies" - and if you are on SSDI you WILL still need subsidies as the max benefit is around $750 - $800 per month - also have no services, no meals on wheels, no elder/handicap transport, and few shopping opportunities for groceries and sundries. No or very small senior citizen centers. No or very bad cable, no or very expensive and slow internet. No movie theaters. Too far from broadcast TV and sometimes even broadcast radio to pick up a signal.

I know of no small town where you can rent an apartment for under $400 a month, and I'm talking VERY small cities of 1200 or less. Not even there are rents that cheap. Maybe in a crime-ridden slum.

You have an extremely unrealistic view of what is possible.

FYI-I live in a small rural town of about 9,000.

I get $1350 a month SSDI.

We have one of the best hospitals in the state, with state-of the-art equipment and services.

This town has a movie theater, super Walmart, G and W, several dollar stores, senior center, several affordable options for cable and internet, a great library, and churches and other organizations to socialize. We get a lot of radio stations from all over this part of the state. There are also many options for transportation, etc. if you have Medicare.

We pay $400 a month for a 3 bedroom house. We do not live in a "crime-ridden slum."

We also have a water park, golf course, and recreation center.

My daughter lives in an even smaller town of less than 1200 that has many of the same amenities. They are only lacking a Walmart.

So yes, it is possible, and totally realistic.
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Old 03-07-2017, 12:21 PM
Location: S.W. Florida
2,209 posts, read 932,574 times
Reputation: 6233
I've only read the first two pages of this thread and like what I've read so far. I'm almost afraid to venture further into the thread for fear of the inevitable.

Anyway,I wanted chime in and mention that my mom lived on a pension of $386 a month and SS of $600 a month for many years. She lived in a small apartment and seemed to do very well until her health declined. At one point her medications costs far more than she took in each month,to the point that her meager savings was soon exhausted. She had cancer,emphysema,diabetes,and heart disease. Even in the 80's and 90's those drugs cost a lot of money.

It was only for the kindness of a long time,small town drug store that she was able to continue getting her meds. That little store allowed my mom to have an "account" to charge her medicines. This,knowing she would never be able to pay the money back. Imagine that happening at CVS or Walgreens!

Great topic OP!
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Old 03-07-2017, 05:06 PM
1,190 posts, read 659,175 times
Reputation: 1021
Originally Posted by Perryinva View Post
The premise of this thread is weak nonsense. ER has mentioned his SS is like $150/mo. The max SS is like $3800/mo. The range of JUST SS is so large as to wonder what the point was.
The OP's point seemed clear to me that it was directed to the poorer folks.

With regard to the above, maybe that person getting just $150 mo. SS is under 65. Took their SS early. Because
the Federal Minimum anyone 65+ can get is over $700 per mo.. It's $875 in California but they are
dis-allowed from signing up for food stamps
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