Image Highlights America's Retirement Dilemma

September 12th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

A photo of an elderly man pushing a cart of paletas (a Mexican frozen treat) in Chicago tugged at the collective internet's heartstrings after it was posted on Facebook last week. And now the 89-year-old street vendor is at the center of a conversation about America's retirement dilemma.

Fedencio Sanchez and his wife, like many retirement-age Americans, found themselves without a financial safety net after their daughter died last month, NPR reports. To take care of their two grandchildren and make ends meet, the couple decided to reenter the workforce. They're not alone, either; almost 20 percent of Americans over 65 are still working, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here are some other statistics that highlight the problem.


The 2008 financial crisis took a major toll on the retirement savings of the Baby Boomer generation, Bloomberg reports. Nearly 60 percent of all U.S. households don't have a 401(k) plan, and one out of three Americans haven't saved any money at all for retirement, a 2016 GoBankingRates survey found.

Another recent survey — this one conducted by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies — found that "[t]hree in five retirees... said making money or earning benefits was at least one reason they had retired later than they planned to. Almost half said financial problems were their main reason for working past 65."

To help Sanchez, photographer Joel Macias launched a GoFundMe page: "Relief for Fidencio the paleta man."


Originally the goal was to raise $3,000 to help Sanchez and his family pay the bills. But as the vendor's story gained attention, more donors pitched in — contributing more than $180,000 at the time of writing.

"None of us know each other, but we all came together to help someone we all felt needed it," Loera wrote in an update. "This is a true example of people showing love for one another and how we can together accomplish something beautiful and greater than ourselves."

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