Most people see their Social Security retirement checks as source of help and support in their later years. Sally Hough knows how important it can be to other generations, too.
“My husband, Jack, and is started receiving Social Security when we turned 70,” she recalls, “and then when Jack died I received some of his, plus mine. Wonderfully, when my payment comes in every month I immediately write a check to Skidmore College to help my granddaughter pay for her tuition.
“I wouldn’t be able to do what I do with it if I didn’t get Social Security; I don’t get enough income from Jack’s and my IRAs. I get enough to live on, but the Social Security allows me to help my granddaughter, and hopefully in a year or two I won’t have to help her.”
She explains that the recession that cost many their jobs was also responsible for her son-in-law’s loss of his position with a large bank. The family anticipates that he will have a new job, but in the meantime, Sally is putting her Social Security to good use in support of that family’s four growing children.
It has worked so well that she is thinking about using her monthly payment to help her son’s children, who have graduated from college but are contemplating some very expensive additional education.
Had she ever thought during her years working for Simon & Schuster on Golden Books in New York that she would use her Social Security this way? Well, no, she says with a smile. She does remember talk of Social Security in the family’s home many years ago.
The house she lives in “has been in my family since 1790. I can remember my grandmother talking about the program; in the days before the mid-1930s providing for older people was a worry. I remember a big discussion with my mother about Frances Perkins and Social Security—what Miss Perkins had done and that she had been the first woman to hold a Cabinet position.
“I’m from a family of very independent women—the men all died young and the women all lived to be very old. They had to look out for themselves, and I was brought up knowing that I had to learn some way to make a living, because you never know. My mother went to college, and there was no question that I would go, too.
Sally, in fact, attended all classes her mother taught at Brunswick High School: social studies, problems of democracy and American history. “Frances Perkins was a heroine to my mother—what she had done, and the fact that Roosevelt really admired her and took her advice. Every time we went down River Road in Newcastle, my mother would point out Frances Perkins’ house. The older I get, I realize how bright she was.”