A peak boomer who lives on $1,100 monthly from Social Security struggles to afford food: 'I have to survive, I have no choice.'

  • Angela Babin, 62, struggles to live on $1,104 a month in Social Security and $28 in SNAP.

  • Her experience highlights a growing crisis, as many older adults don't have enough retirement savings.

  • More than half of Americans over 65 have an annual income of $30,000 or less, per the Census Bureau.

Angela Babin lives in a mobile home in Houma, Louisiana — about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans.

Her heating and electricity haven't worked very well since Hurricane Ida swept through the area three years ago, and she has to boil all her water on the stove to be able to drink or use it. It makes her nervous: she has arthritis and she's worried she could burn herself trying to move a still-bubbling pot.

Babin, 62, lives alone. She has for years, ever since her mother and brother died. The three of them used to live together, with Babin as their caregiver. They were the only family she had left, she said.

Now, Babin is kept company by her two cats and two dogs, who "mean the world" to her. She lives on her Social Security income, which she first started receiving in 2008 after she had to retire early for medical reasons. According to documents reviewed by Business Insider, the check comes out to $1,104 a month.

Even with the Social Security check and some SNAP food benefits, Babin said it's difficult to afford groceries. She rarely has any new clothes and hasn't been able to afford a haircut in years.

"I have to survive," she said. "I have no choice."

Babin's experience mirrors others BI has heard. A growing number of older adults in the US are facing a retirement crisis, as limited or nonexistent savings accounts require many to depend on Social Security — a federal fund that could start shrinking by 2030.

Peak boomers, the latest cohort of older adults under 65 to retire, are especially vulnerable to these retirement challenges. The Census Bureau's Current Population Survey found that more than half of Americans over 65 have an annual income of $30,000 or less.

Babin said she "never in a million years" thought she would be in this financial situation.

Babin's mobile home needs repairs, but she struggles with daily expenses

About 16 years ago, Babin and her husband divorced. She lost most of her assets in the settlement and was forced to stop work and start collecting Social Security around that time due to complications from diabetes. She has no remaining savings.

Like the millions of other older Americans living on a fixed Social Security income, Babin said it's difficult to get by.

When Hurricane Ida hit southeastern Louisiana in 2021, the mobile home Babin owns was badly damaged. The repairs are expensive and she hasn't been able to get much of it fixed since the storm. That's why her hot water doesn't work, she said.

Babin also worries about having enough to eat. She said she receives $28 a month in SNAP benefits, but that's barely enough to cover bread, milk, and coffee. Occasionally, Babin visits food pantries, but she said the food is often spoiled, or she can't eat the items available due to her diabetes.

For healthcare, Babin is enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare, which covers most of her healthcare and insulin costs. She has a car, but typically only drives to essential places like the doctor's office because she can barely afford gas.

It's especially difficult for single people and older adults to qualify for assistance. Many US safety nets are set up for families with young, dependent children.

Babin, for example, Babin can't access programs like WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and some tax credits because she lives alone. And, even though her Social Security income is close enough to the poverty line to qualify for SNAP, the support she receives is limited — and it can't help cover her other expenses.

With limited options for help, Babin she feels stuck.

"I don't want to be rich, I just need to be comfortable," she said. "I just want to know that I can have food when I need it and a nice roof over my head."

Are you living paycheck to paycheck or on Social Security? Are you open to sharing how you spend your money? If so, reach out to this reporter at allisonkelly@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider