Chances are Katherine Jackson never imagined Social Security would be her only source of income.  But truth be told...that's probably the case for countless other Americans, rich and poor, who face retirement in a much different fiscal situation then they had dreamed.  That's why these short references  buried in all the recent coverage of Michael Jackson's death really caught our attention:
"Lawyers for the estate wrote: ‘We are informed that Mrs. Jackson was also financially dependent upon Michael Jackson and that other than extremely modest social security benefits, Mrs. Jackson has no independent means of support.'... Jackson's children will receive Social Security benefits, which have been applied for but payments have not yet started. Their monthly stipends from the estate may be reduced, depending on much money they receive from Social Security, the filings state." You can think what you want about how the Jackson's ended up in this situation but regardless, it's a reminder of the role that Social Security plays in the lives of Americans who have the rug pulled out from under them and face a loss of income through retirement, disability or the death of a parent.  At the end of 2007, nearly 50 million people were receiving approximately $585 billion in Social Security benefits: 34 million retired workers and their dependents, 6 million survivors of deceased workers, and 9 million disabled workers and their families. During the year, an estimated 163 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.   If you pay in to Social Security you have a right to that benefit, rich or poor.  Social Security isn't welfare it's a benefit that Americans work to earn...a benefit that's there, even if you don't think you'll ever need it.