The Second Oldest Story in the World

scarlett2001April 18, 2012

Ran into an old friend yesterday - Mary is now 61, was married 28 years, was a homemaker the last 17 years. Her husband has deserted the family and has not given her any alimony or paid the rent for the last 5 months, so she is facing eviction. Oh - he also cleaned out the bank account and quit his job, so medical benefits are gone.

Mary has two grown kids, age 26 and 25, but they have no education beyond high school, so they are living with her and earning minimal pay.

This is a nice lady, but she failed to plan ahead for what can happen to any of us women. No education, no marketable job skills equals a real mess, especially at her age. I see this happening all the time. "One man away from Welfare".

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What did she do for a living up until 17 years ago (when she became a homemaker)?
She must have some skills from those previous decades....

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 12:44PM
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Does Mary have joint ownership of a house ?

It's tough.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 11:34PM
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Her office skills from 1995 are not very competitive in today's job market and at age 61, she probably will not get accepted into a training program.

The house is a rental, that's why she is being evicted. Today we went to Legal Aid and she now has a social worker - necessary but humiliating. A lot of the service programs here have been cut, due to budget problems.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 4:42AM
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Mary has been making the rounds of social services, it is humiliating, confusing and frustrating. The Fair Housing guy asked her what SHE had done to make her husband desert her. She now will get food stamps - a whopping $150 a month, which will not go far where we live. The social worker told her that because she has two dogs, they have to go. They are considered a luxury.

Just this week a certain politician said on TV that "Beans and rice are a good source of protein; it's not that bad to be poor in the USA." The large majority of people living under the poverty level are women and kids. And this is, in most cases, preventable by planning ahead and having a Plan B, in case Plan DH fails.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 2:59AM
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Why wouldn't she be accepted into a class to reeducate herself? My dd went to college 10 years ago for opticianry. She was college-aged herself, but she was the YOUNGEST one in her year. Most of the students were older, many were retirees who were looking to take up a different career in their older years.

So many older folks are going to community colleges now, to change careers. She's definitely not too old, and the colleges are doing everything they can to accommodate older students. Your friend should really look into it. Furthermore, she might want to look at the apprenticeship programs (like opticianry, para-legal, etc) where she can work while taking classes. Great way to earn while learning a new profession.

Secondly, if she hasn't already, she DEFINITELY needs to get a good lawyer working for her. She's got rights--she's entitled to some of the money he took, to part of the procedes from their home (if they owned one) and even part (with a good lawyer? maybe she could get ALL) of his pension. My BIL's ex-wife managed to get all his pension, so my poor Dsis is stuck working until forever to support them (his health is poor, he cannot work).

There are solutions out there for her--but she's got to push herself to get out and seek them out. They aren't going to just walk in the front door for her. And I don't care what the kids education is--they need to be supporting themselves AND if necessary, giving HER a hand.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 11:44AM
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I agree completely about the "kids".

Most of the funded training programs have to show that they earned their funding by showing successful placement of their students after they complete the program. When a participant completes the training and then doesn't get a job, the program can lose a portion of funding. People closer to retirement age are probably going to choose retirement over work if they can. However, if Mary can convince a program to take her, and she is willing to brave this awful job market, she may have a chance.

And yeah, she needs to confront her husband legally and fast.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 3:53AM
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Why would someone intent on retiring even APPLY to a "funded training program"?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Since Mary was a housewife for the last 17 years, the only retirement she will be eligible for is her old job from 1995, where she worked only a few years. That plus Social Security. Her choice is to try to live on welfare until she "retires" with not enough money, or to try to re-tool, and learn some updated job skills. But her age is 61, so the chances of being accepted into a federal or state program is not good because she will probably not get a job. Ditto with going to a community college, she can learn new stuff but chances of anybody her age getting hired -especially in this economy - are slim.

If anybody out there has any ideas, I would love to entertain them.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 1:43AM
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Hard as it may be for her to accept, since her husband has deserted her, she needs to formalize that with a divorce. A divorce can provide her with a share of any pension and/or 401k's, IRA's or other accounts, especially those held by her husband's former employer.

Obviously, she can also apply for spousal support. If he is working anywhere, that can be determined and if necessary, wages can be garnished.

She should also investigate what her SS will be at early and full retirement. SS will calculate which offers her the largest benefit - to draw on her (former) husband's account or on her own credits. If she is short on her own record, it may be that finding any sort of job for a couple of years will result in higher benefits.

Look for community college counseling for displaced homemakers. Usually community colleges do offer specific programs and assistance to older workers and those returning to the workforce. Their counselors may also refer to other programs and assist with networking.

Believe it or not, in this economy it's the young (like your friend's children) who are having severe difficulty with employment. Many companies prefer to employ older workers because they appreciate their stellar work ethic.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 4:36AM
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