Testifying before members of the Democratic National Convention Platform Committee, Carol Berman, 77, spoke candidly about how she lived on the edge of financial disaster for a long time just because her husband needed long-term care. She offered her personal experience to shed light on the importance of preserving and strengthening Social Security and Medicare's earned benefits, which are critical lifelines for millions of Americans. As a member and volunteer of the National Committee, Carol is also one of a record 7.2 million Americans aged 65 and older who are still working due to rising health care costs, including long-term care, and shrinking Social Security benefits.
During Carol's eloquent and moving testimony before members of the DNC's Platform Committee, she spoke about how she lived on the edge of financial disaster for a long time just because her husband needed long-term care. Like so many other Americans, Carol was forced to place her husband in a long-term care facility after he became incapacitated with Alzheimer's disease. In order to make ends meet and pay the $4,000-$5,000 a month in costs for long-term care, Carol sold her home and moved into a small apartment. Each month, she had to sell something else of value just to get by and eventually cashed in all of her and her husband's assets, except her 401k.
After speaking with an Elder Care Attorney, she was shocked to learn that after working her entire life the only way she could avoid impoverishment and not take welfare benefits — and still preserve her remaining source of income, her 401k — was to do the unthinkable and divorce her husband. Thankfully, Carol's husband never knew the change of their marital status during her daily visits to the nursing home.
These are the kind of drastic and unthinkable choices that so many Americans, like Carol, must consider to avoid poverty in later years. In closing, Carol urged committee members to focus on protecting and strengthening benefits, including long-term care, and ensure these vital programs are not the focus of cost-cutting plans in Washington.
Carol spoke to us about why she chose to become a member and volunteer for the National Committee: “because it gives me the opportunity to make a difference in my community by educating others. Social Security and Medicare are critical to my personal well-being and I will do whatever I can to protect it and preserve it, not only for myself, but for future generations.”
To hear Carol's moving testimony, please click here.