“You’ve got a few years.”
The doctor told me that long ago. I managed to stave things off far longer than he thought I could, sparing American taxpayers a few years of expense. But the thing is, you can’t always plan for these things. Fortunately, I did – and had the means to do so.
I encourage people to “check the highest box” when it comes to disability insurance, especially if it’s employer provided because unlike me, you may not know when you’ll become disabled. S$#! happens.
I had warning – more than most. About fifteen years – enough time to prepare for the inevitable. Eventually the doctor hooked me on drugs – more and more all the time to keep me going. Then there were the drugs to counteract the drugs so that I could go on working, until I was taking over thirty pills a day – and still I kept on working. Even when I was on Fentanyl patchs (150 mg’s) and wishing for more, I kept on slogging my way through a forty mile commute for a ten hour day five times a week . . .
Yeah, I was in a state of denial; still am. I hate being ‘disabled’. I hate not working for a living, not making a valuable contribution – but I saw it coming, which is more than most get.
So I earned my wages, paid my social security taxes – kept on checking that upper box on the insurance forms, claiming every exemption that I could – but meanwhile paying my taxes. I still do, on the Social Security income I earned.
Yes, that’s right: I earned it. And be aware: any disability insurance payments you get have to be paid back to the insurance company once Social Security kicks in, eating up any lump sum payment you get – something I found out to the tune of a $35,000 check to the Insurance company after I got my Social Security going.
I worked jobs from the time I was ten until I was in my late forties. Then it took a few years to get social security (and Medicare) going – four, to be exact.
If it hadn’t been for some careful planning, and knowing I was going to “be ill”, I would’ve lost my house. I pity those who are unprepared.
Disability can take you by surprise. You don’t know if on the way to work if you’re going to get creamed by some car – just as I didn’t know there was a ravine to fall in when I took on a machine gun that night when I was 23 or so. (It was a really dark night.) That and a few other injuries during my Marine Corps career – plus a number of wrecks – meant my number was ‘up’ before I was done preparing . . .
And it can happen to you.
Congress and Obama have been proposing changes to welfare, Medicade and the Medicare system. The Social Security system – never designed for the new demographics of the nation (an aging population) – is going broke.
And yet I feel I still deserve ‘mine’, for I paid into the system. I took care of things. I made sure I was “well off” (at least compared to most of my friends) – despite having pulled myself from an abusive atmosphere, years of drug use, and even more pain.
I lost many people along the way, some of them were kids. Those I miss the most, by the way – the kids I’ve known who have come and gone in my lifetime.
By best count estimates I helped raise more than twelve kids, maybe a baker’s dozen. Some I lived with a few years. Some I’ve known for a lifetime – or at least in their eyes. I can remember when they weren’t around.
Strange how despite the all of it, they all seem to ‘muddle through’ towards a future that, to me, seems more and more dismal in some ways.
I notice that my parents have had a higher standard of living than I; their parents before them even better. However, when it came down to me and mine, despite twelve years of post high school education, despite having some “good paying jobs” (at least for this area – I live in a poverty stricken part of the south) – I’m not doing as well as my mother and father. They, at least, can depend on some retirement checks, and they’ve got Tricare, which is the military’s aborted attempt at renigging on their promises to “take care of you the rest of your life.”.
It’s strange to see me doing so much better than my children – I, who am surviving on a Social Security disability check and not much more. I own my own house – one of those things I took care of – it was beaten into me by life that you make sure you’ve got a roof over your head – and I own my own car – a Mustang convertible with low miles; it’s got the classic Mustang louvers and vents. Everything is paid for.
It’s not the retirement that I would like, and when people accuse me of “living a retired life” I remind them: it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, especially when you’re disabled. Old age sucks (and I’m only 53), and haven’t known a day of no pain since I was 24.
But that’s okay: I got mine. The question is: did you get yours, or are you going to? Because if the truth be told I don’t hold much hope out for the future of the poor and down and out. If you haven’t “got it” by now chances are your not going to get it – that is, if you are a person who can read this post and are poor, chances are it won’t get a whole lot better, at least not in the immediate future. Mid-grade jobs (meaning mid-pay, middle class) are on their way out, and all that is left is either service industry – or you gotta be a “silver spoon”.
Yes, of course there is a chance you’ll make it if you strive hard – as I hope you will, suggest you do.
But just in case, I still recommend planning for your future – setting some money aside, checking those boxes which can help stave off an unfortunate future (like I did, seeing it in my cards). You might have to pay a bit more for the extra coverage, and lets all hope you don’t need it (like I did).
And don’t ever confuse disability with retirement. Retirement is something you can come out of. Disability you don’t recover from. Not easily. But given today’s work and business environment, I’m glad I did – got “out”, that is.
Because my pain is less than yours, that of the working class, from what I see: an insecure environment where great jobs are disappearing like fall leaves, and nothing’s left but some mulch to walk in. Shoveling snow for someone, or working at a hamburger bar and grille – or worse, a call center.
I pity American workers right now, more than I ever did.
And sometimes I wish I was one of you.