DECEMBER 16, 1959
NEW YORK—I have a letter from a woman on one of the problems of Social Security which I think I should share with my readers. A solution to the problem will require the thinking of those who make the laws on these subjects. And its presentation here may move people who have ideas as to how it might be solved to communicate with their representatives in Congress. The letter says:
"I have something I just have to get `off my chest,' and I would like to hear, or read, some opinions by you on this subject. My great anxiety concerns Social Security.
"I am 56 years old, have been a widow seven years. Until two years ago I worked regularly, and helped my son through college. He immediately married, and although he has a fairly good job, they have had numerous unforeseen hospital expenses that keep them barely breaking even, and certainly have nothing left to contribute to my support.
"A year ago I was unfortunate in suffering a slight stroke that impaired my eyesight. In addition, my nervous system is not what it used to be. I cannot use a typewriter any more, or do anything that requires using my eyes under lights, such as watching TV or movies. I am perfectly healthy otherwise!
"I had to give up my work. In applying for any work I think I would be able to do, I am told quite frankly that they have a long line of applicants much younger and with many more qualifications for any vacancy they might have.
"I am not old enough to claim Social Security under the present age law. I am not physically handicapped to claim disability Social Security. I cannot even claim anything from my health and accident insurance that I've been paying on for years.
"I need things desperately now. There are fewer jobs, and more people for these jobs every day......
"I am extremely bitter over the fact that the law requires women to struggle (or just give up and die) to the age of 63 (especially widows) before claiming Social Security. Practically all women are past working by age of 50. Their physical make-up just won't stand up (at least very few will) under the rigorous conditions imposed upon them by present-day competition. The law-makers always look to their fortunate wives, or the small minority of lucky women around them, when they pass a law covering all women.
"How can a woman at 50 find a job, when there are hundreds of young college and high school girls standing in line for the same job? What is a widow supposed to do until she is 63? I have worked most of my adult life, and paid Social Security. I don't feel like I should have to suffer when I reach my age, and find it impossible to work...."
This is a difficult problem and I, for one, find it impossible to set an absolute age date which would cover all people. It has always seemed to me that this should be done on an individual basis. Some people need help earlier than others.