My last post flashed back 40 years. We were young, and didn't even realize how young at the time ... me still a teenager at 19, and Brian hanging onto his early 20s.
I wasn't even a full year into paying from a full-time job into Social Security and Medicare benefits. Brian was only a few years into those deductions.
In fact, those far-off benefits were so much a part of the distant future that they merited zero thought or discussion; just numbers that lessened our pay.
It may have been four decades ago, but still, it's just like that, and one of us is all signed up for both now.
After months of letters and packets from insurance companies wooing Brian with their Medicare-enhancement products, months of wondering when to get busy on this topic, months of wondering about the complexity of the process, just like that, after 20 minutes with our local Social Security office rep, he's signed up with his own ID number.
Perhaps we should celebrate. If that seems a bit odd, you're probably too young to relate to this post. After all, aren't Medicare and Social Security topics that our parents or grandparents should be talking about, you say? Old-people stuff?
But we found that a funny thing happens on the way to 65, something that begins surfacing at about age 62. You (or your better half) start to anticipate the day when these two retirement components kick in. There's no two ways about it here: the money is a release from the considerably higher cost of health insurance premiums . The Social Security payments help from delving so deeply into our retirement savings. These are the safety measures against "running out" of money.
The points I'm trying to make are these: Americans are blessed to live in a country with these programs. Some will say, "But you paid into them." But I'll say it again: it's a blessing. The same with Social Security. You don't see people lining up to leave this country. These programs are two of countless reasons why.
I didn't anticipate, I suppose, how emotional I feel to have Brian all signed up. But emotional in a good way. I feel as though congratulations are in order.
Also, if you are getting close to this age and stage, a few things we didn't know until recently: You do pay some money monthly to be on Medicare:
1. For us anyway (and I imagine for you, too), it is a huge savings over previous health premiums. Your Medicare payments can be withheld from your Social Security checks.
2. Talk to a health insurance professional about your options for a supplemental or "Advantage" plan for your Medicare. They will explain it. I won't attempt. It may or may not cost a thing. And you can change your mind or your plans. It's not one and done forever.
3. You need to decide if or how much you want for tax withholding.
4. I thought that Social Security payments came into everyone's accounts the same day each month. They do not.
5. If someone randomly calls from "Social Security" or "Medicare" asking for your Social Security number or other personal information, tell them you will call them back. Immediately then call your local Social Society office. If these entities are trying to reach you, they will send information via U.S. mail -- not through random phone calls. Fraud alert here!
6. The process isn't so bad after all. Don't let the piles of mail intimidate you.
Brian just left the house, bound for his gym. I'm going to the grocery store.
It's not a party we're having here, exactly, but more a feeling of quiet satisfaction, this day. Besides, Brian can now whip out the line, "I'm on a fixed income."
It's the new way we roll.