By Bruce Stambaugh
Last year it was Medicare. This time it’s Social Security.
When I turned 65, I had to sign up for Medicare as my primary medical insurance. It’s the way the program has successfully worked since its inception. You hit the magic number and you’re in.
Could I really be this old? When my next birthday rolled around, I was over my denial. I had accepted my age and the fact that I am definitely in the autumn of my life.
In truth, I wasn’t expecting to receive anything from Social Security. Having been a public educator as my first career, I had always been told I likely wouldn’t get much from Social Security, even if I had the required number of quarters to qualify, which I did.
I decided to check anyhow. I had worked my way through college, and after my 30 years in education, I dabbled in marketing for local businesses as my second career. All the while I had paid into the government retirement plan.
I called the local Social Security office in Wooster, Ohio and told them my situation. They asked a couple of questions, and said someone would call me back in the afternoon. I didn’t hold my breath.
A mere two hours later the person who handles calculating individual benefits called and gave me my numbers. They weren’t great, but more than I had anticipated.
A couple of Saturday mornings later, the phone rang. The caller ID showed it was the Social Security Administration. Why would they be calling on a Saturday morning? I answered the phone to find out.
The bubbly lady who was calling from Chicago first verified that she was indeed speaking to the right person. She asked me one question, did a quick calculation, and came back with the exact same information that the nice man from Wooster did.
Then she asked to speak to my wife. I put Neva on the phone, and she answered several questions for the upbeat woman. I motioned to Neva that I wanted to talk with the Social Security representative again.
When they had finished, Neva handed me the phone, and I told the lady I was surprised that she was calling on a Saturday morning. She quickly explained that so many of us Baby Boomers were signing up for Social Security that the office was swamped.
“The overtime pay is nice, too, just in time for the holidays,” she said with an honest, hearty laugh. I chuckled, too.
I thanked her for her efficiency and kindness, and wished her blessings for the holidays. She returned the same for my family and me.
When I hung up, my wife related that the kind woman noticed that Neva would be eligible for Medicare this year, which is why she wanted to speak to her. So she signed Neva up for that.
Imagine that. A government worker, who some would call a bureaucrat, went above and beyond the call of duty by being proactive on a Saturday morning. Neva and I were both pleased and impressed.
I received my first Social Security deposit right on time. I still have one question though. Does that mean I am really retired?
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014