Sat. Sep 24th, 2022


The Real News Network

For a working couple, one income isn’t enough to keep the 401(k) intact.

2 min read

Mary Costanzo was laid off as a bookkeeper at an accounting firm on March 27. She filed for unemployment benefits and started receiving $451 a week after taxes in Massachusetts benefits, plus a $600 federal supplement.

Her husband, who does shipping and receiving at a weather equipment company, held on to his job, bringing in $2,500 per month after taxes. But Ms. Costanzo, 57, had been earning more — $4,000 in take-home pay each month — and the family relied on her income for their largest bills, including monthly car payments of $368 and $280.

When the federal supplement ended, she didn’t have enough to cover September’s $2,262 mortgage payment on their four-bedroom colonial house in Burlington, northwest of Boston. Her husband pulled $6,000 out of his 401(k) savings to make the mortgage payment and to have money on hand for October and November in case Ms. Costanzo hasn’t found work by then.

This month, she stopped receiving the state benefits, too. The unemployment office told her that she needed to refile her claim. She did so, but no benefits have materialized.

Lost Wages Assistance, a short-term replacement supplement, produced a lump sum of $1,200 this week. She doesn’t know if she will receive any more from the program. She does know that if she doesn’t get a job soon, she and her husband will keep draining their retirement savings.

After months of fruitless searching, Ms. Costanzo had her first job interview this week. If she gets the job, she will start on Monday.

She will be relieved if she is hired, but she will also be concerned, because the job requires working in the office. She had wanted a job she could do remotely, because she fears bringing the coronavirus home to her sons, 27 and 31, who have cystic fibrosis and are prone to lung infections.

“At this point, I don’t have a choice,” she said. “I need to work to pay the mortgage.”

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