Mary Kay Caldwell, a disabled veteran in Austin, scrapes by on family donations, food pantries and disability compensation. She no longer qualifies for other forms of government assistance. "I’m in the middle," she explains. "I get enough benefits to not qualify for food stamps, and at the same time, I don’t get enough to suffice. The pantries help a lot.”
An hour South in San Antonio, 66-year-old Susan Jacobs lives on a fixed income, and can only watch as prices for food and other necessities rise around her. “My daughter in Houston said, ‘Come live with me,' but I'm used to being by myself,” she said. “I don't want to be a burden.”
“Social Security was never designed to be an adequate source of income, but by default people are using it that way,” said Jerry Williams, associate professor and chairman of the department of sociology at Stephen F. Austin University.