Planning An Unplanned Retirement

“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.

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About jeffssong

JW is an adult childhood abuse survivor with DID*. He grew up in a violent family devoid of love and affection. He is a military brat and veteran. He no longer struggles with that past. In 1976 JW began writing "The Boy". It took 34 years to complete. It is currently on Kindle (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004T3IVKK ), or if you prefer hard copy, on Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/Boy-J-W/dp/1461022681). JW resides somewhere in the deep South. He is disabled and living with family. Note: Please feel free to take what you need; all is free to all. With that in mind, keep it that way to others. Thank you. We have 3 Blogs - One for our younger days, 0-10 (The Little Shop of Horrors); one for our Teen Alter and his 'friends' (also alters) with a lot of poetry; and finally "my" own, the Song of Life (current events and things)
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13 Responses to Planning An Unplanned Retirement

  1. Michael says:

    Our parents generation will be called the lucky few. They can whine about the depression even though they never really lived it. They had more financial opportunities than any one else in the history of mankind. Reason is simple. The two world wars which history will see as one did not happen here and we lost less men than most countries. Infrastructure intact, workforce expanded by the use of women and no competition. The recipe and reason for the greatest nation on earth.

    Our generation yours and mine, Is the delusional generation. Not to worry it was inherited. We were told we were special. We were told we were going to live in a better world than our parents. You see they expected the same opportunities for us as they had. We did not which is OK I would like them to admit they had an easier life and that is why the are doing better now. Pretty simple. It is not a talent that is for sure.

    I have told my children it is harder for them than it was for me.

    With you on the gun control. The result will be more guns in the US and more killings by guns.

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    • jeffssong says:

      My mom admits that it was/is much tougher for us. She marvels that they (her and dad) made it “this far” with a limited education, whilst my brother and I, despite years of college and schools, had to struggle and still have to. She sees it.

      My dad, a devotely religious fanatic “Lifer” veteran, does not. He’s very racist, too, extremely conservative – and doesn’t understand why we didn’t choose the “corporate path” – you know the one: job out of college, work twenty or thirty years, and retire with a pension. He’s a triple-dipper, too: Army retirement (and medical benefits), AT&T retirement income, and Social Security on top of all that. My mom doesn’t get anything but SS and fears his death – while wanting it, too.

      I’m all for guns as long as “everybody” has them. I remember history lessons well. People forget the phrase “A well regulated militia” is part of the 2nd Amendment. You can’t say our gun owners are “well regulated”. But the fact is the US’s high gun ownership has kept us from getting attacked in the past. Now the wars are economic, not so much firepower. And people are silly if they think they can take their guns and ward off Washington. An AK-47 or AR-15 isn’t much good against an Abrams tank or an atom bomb, which is what the government would use should “civilian unrest” occur. I just pray that the young men sitting behind the buttons wouldn’t fire, but seeing our next generation (clones and drones) – they just might do it: attack their own population. It’s been done before, just at a much lower scale (think SWAT & FBI attacks, the Waco compound and more).

      We are a Socialist country and turning into a regime. There’s a vast unsettled population out there that’s getting mad, but feel hopeless. Midwage jobs are going away as machines move in. But most folks? They haven’t got a clue.

      We’ll continue to muddle by, no doubt – but what state will we be in when it’s done? I foresee a George Orwell set of “economic blocks” in competition with each other – or perhaps a global government. Of the two, I’d favor the latter – in which case guns will be ‘gone’ – or outlawed. Which would be fine if NO ONE had one, and there was no military, too – anywhere in the world. (would save a ton of money & resources, too).

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      • Michael says:

        They way I figure is the person behind the button is more likely to hesitate if he or she has a risk. No guns other than those behind the button is what I see as the issue.

        Many mid wage jobs became high end as they are in the public sector. Others left.

        This is how I see the difference between public and private. The post office just stopped sat mail. No one will lose there job and the pension that needs to be paid for all the mail delivered on sat for not good reason will be paid for years and years. A little money will be saved with the sat no mail thing. Not like it would be if it was private. Reality is they should go to every three days and let the employees work on the week-ends. That will not happen.

        i expect the only reason the sat mail is stopped is the start of a big rate increase. Oh look what we did now we need more money.

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      • jeffssong says:

        Good point about the man behind the button.

        The Post Office is not dependent upon tax revenues, though they are regulated as though they were a government industry. Many people *think* they are part of the government because the government regulates and controls them. It’s not a government service – it’s a “private industry” that has been taxed and regulated to death. A lot of confusion on the part of the American public on that; they don’t realize the Post Office isn’t funded by the Feds.

        I’ve been reading a lot of the loss of mid-wage jobs due to automation. Machines can do the jobs better, don’t unionize, demand higher wages, or get “sick” (tho’ their programming might). Fact is it’s the “Rise of the Machine” – that age is being born, and many people who had jobs a few years ago are finding their jobs performed by machine (e.g. automated / self-checkout, clerical jobs, secretaries, meter readers – even fighter pilots, just to name a *few*!). I can see where there is going to be NO jobs for almost anyone since a machine will be able to replace what you do economically and cheaply. Think “smart car” (self-driving) – and taxi drivers. There’s one for you!

        I wonder what mankind is going to do when we achieve that dream of science fiction writers where our hands are free not to work – and machines are already capable of art, creative writing, and artificial intelligence is on the brink of occurring.

        Medical industry seems to be a place to start – if you want a job for the future. The rest of the workplace? It’s going to be dominated by automation, with (maybe) a person to watch them work. If that. Chances are, that person will be replaced by a machine as well.

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      • Michael says:

        “The Post Office is not dependent upon tax revenues, though they are regulated as though they It’s not a government service – it’s a “private industry” that has been taxed and regulated to death.”

        i have a bridge in Brookline you might be interested in.

        It is revenue natural. It is in no way private. OSHA is the same way as is the IRS. EPA will be in a few years.

        Be cool if the military went the same way then we could stop pretending we do not have wars for oil. “We are not there for the figs.” Soon to be Secretary of State.Go back to honestly taking the booty.

        What really happened was in the 60’s they started making money and the unions wanted that profit and got it. Now they are going to give the tax payers the loss. Nothing really new. We used to have tolls on all the roads.

        You might want to read “Dog days of March.” written by a NH boy. You might not if you want to keep your delusion that the south is more rural that all of the North. Did you ever leave the airport?

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      • jeffssong says:

        LOL, the house was near the airport, but not in NY. True rural is the Dakotas and Wyoming, where I’ve lived, too – and they (no surprise!) have a “Southern attitude”, too. As do many Americans, hence the evenly split division on the Presidential vote.

        However, it is the ones with the technology (e.g. news outlets that live in the cities) that get their voices heard – not the “rural” person or “common” man (tho’ I’ve yet to meet someone I could call ‘common’ – they are all very unique). Lived in Maryland for awhile, too, as well as New Jersey, but in a neighborhood. I live in a city now – but it’s a small one, growing by leaps and bounds (200% growth in the past 10 years).

        Getting back to that media thing: it is the ones with the media voices who speak the loudest – and they don’t speak for us; they speak for what they think is “the voice of reason” from the safety of their cities and the law. They don’t know: you call a cop down here and it might take an hour for them to show up. Especially if there’s a crime in progress. I had one tell me: we’d rather pick up the pieces than be one. So they wait until the situation cools (or is over) – which, BTW, is why I hang onto my guns. And like anyone, they will break the law quick – or even quicker – than the ‘common man’ that I’ve seen. And a lot of politicians are crooks.

        Dog Days of March was a very good book, BTW. Read it back in my teens. I prefer “Lord of the Flies” by far, and would much rather live on that tropical island. At least I wouldn’t have to worry as much – and I’d be damned if I’d try to get rescued.

        People still think the Post Office is a ‘service’ provided by the government. They are clueless. It is a business regulated to death by the gov. Next it’ll be UPS & Fed-ex.

        oh wait: the feds are already stepping in on them. Just try to ship arms or a bale of marijuana. Should be legal but it’s not.

        BTW: got some bottom land you could build a house in. It would just have to float.

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      • Michael says:

        I would like a house boat. I had the wrong title it was Dogs of march. I like one of the charters Cootie Paterson. Good ole Cootie always with the road kill stew in the kettle.

        Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2013 20:39:51 +0000 To: dayodayo@msn.com

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      • jeffssong says:

        House boats are nice; there’s a huge lake up here with some very nice luxury models (Lake Thurmond).

        Had to laugh about your road kill comment – I’ve eaten road kill before. Once when guy showed up for work with a dead raccoon in his hand – he had it barbequed for lunch. A tad bit greasy for my taste, tho’. And I’ve had road kill deer before, butchered in my own back yard. The dogs loved it, and so did I. More deer get killed by cars than guns, I swear! They say there more deer than when the Indians lived here, but that’s because we killed all the wolves. However, the coyotes have taken their place. At SRS (Nuke site not far away) they’ve observed the coyotes take 80% of the fawns. Nature adjusts, it seems. :/ But feral hogs are a problem as well – and they kill fawns as well. Not a lot of studies done on them – smart animal. You’ll never catch one in a trap twice.

        Ever read “Lord of the Flies”? It was my favorite book during my teen years. Quite a good symbology of what man has done to our planet: was an Eden that we made into hell, fighting amongst ourselves. Perhaps Vonnegut was right. We always resort to our savage & baser natures once the veneer of civilization is gone.

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      • Michael says:

        Unlikely that there were more deer. Deer are an open land animal. They can not live in a mature forest. They needed development or forest fires. Not much can live in a mature forest as there is not sun and little growth to eat. Cool thing with deer is if the doe does not have enough food it uses the uterus as food. They have three which is why you see so many twins and triplets after a mild winter.

        I read Animal Farm in HS. I might reread it. I do remember thinking there were no women on the island and thought that was important. Did not fly with the teacher or the class. I never read any of his other work. I have never even seen a feral hog.

        Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2013 20:59:41 +0000 To: dayodayo@msn.com

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      • jeffssong says:

        Don’t know about up there, but the white tailed deer down here do quite well in woodland and swamp. They gobble acorns and persimmons, some mosses, fungi, wild sage, and a bunch of other stuff. They LIVE in the stuff because, well – it’s mostly wooded (pine) land, with mixes of hardwoods. But yes, they also love getting into farmer’s fields and pigging out, LOL! I’ve hunted enough to know they are very smart, can smell you out, and will creep through the woods behind you. Even saw one low-crawl under a log to avoid being seen. Like many animals, they are adaptable to microenvironments where they live, and down here – well, woods and swamp, with some farmland.

        Most of our deer down here give birth to one fawn, sometimes two, but can go into “heat” twice a year – especially a year like this one (warm). They are pretty small deer compared to the ones up north – maybe 120-180 pounds. Easy to mistake for a large dog – sometimes.

        The feral hogs are a growing problem here, and from what I’ve read and heard, out of control in Texas. Not a “natural” animal in North America, brought by settlers. A very destructive thing. I’ve seen acres of shoreside and lakebed (due to falling water levels) torn up. They can decimate a field in one night – and eat everything that is edible. LOL, they eat the shellfish at our lake. Crossbreeds from domestic pigs that got out and razorbacks can get huge. There was one over 1000 pounds that was killing horses (gutting them) some years ago. Dangerous animal to run across, they invade the yards of some of my friends by the lake, and charged a disabled old lady who barely made it into her house (with her grandkids). Like I said: a real problem which is getting a lot worse.

        Animal Farm – “all animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.” is the main quote I remember (written by a pig, no less!). A lot of upper crust and politicians view themselves as that (not a pig, but “more equal”). I think Obama might be King.

        Women are a moderating influence on men (I think) – much more social animals, and more likely to try to talk things out. But on the other hand, having raised some daughters I can tell you: they can be vicious, underhanded in ways us men can’t begin to imagine. At least we’re more open with ours. (Violence, that is.)

        Houseboats for sale on Savannah River, or you can build your own. Just don’t let it sink. They’ll charge you to pull it out.

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      • Michael says:

        I have never been against a president before. Obama changed this. We are right now paying for a media blitz for his state of the union address. He wants to be our dad. Deer do spend lots of time in the swamps. They can not survive with out the new growth in the summer here. The winters are to harsh. Moose are the same way. As logging is on the down swing so is the moose population. That and we put our forest fires which are natural. I am not a deer hunter. Those that are claim the one in the north are harder to hunt. They often go down south to PA and hunt down there or OH.

        Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2013 16:03:38 +0000 To: dayodayo@msn.com

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      • jeffssong says:

        I voted for Obama the 1st time (but Republican in every other way) because I recognize the cycle – Republicans are for business, Democrats for the ‘common man’. The nation swings this way and that every few elections. But this 2nd time everyone I voted for lost, except for the GA senate. Republicans look out for their bottom line – and business, which creates jobs; Democrats spend for social welfare programs to the Republicans distaste. (wry grimace) I guess I’m a Libertarian.

        Obama reminds me of some kids I sometimes have emailed in South Africa (part of a teacher’s program). They think that the President is like a king – he can do what he wants. (wry smile) I’ve been trying to correct that illusion, but Obama seems to have it, too.

        LOL, ya’ll *do* have some pretty harsh winters. Us Southerners wouldn’t survive them: our houses would collapse (shallow pitch angle roofs, no snow equipment). I’ve been in deep snow. It’s good; I love it. As long as I don’t have to drive.

        I can see where your wildlife need the spring as your summers are rather short compared to ours. Spring has already started here. I anticipate it’s going to be a disaster as the flowers are starting to bloom – waayy too early! There are freezes to come. Lack of flowers means lack of food for the animals later on (next fall/winter). Weather is changing, that’s for sure, tho’ it’s only us oldsters who are really aware of it because we’ve seen the change. Kids haven’t. Reminds me of biologists who try to gauge populations based on historical (human) records. You can’t base cod catch on what was caught 200 years ago and say that what was 200 years ago had already been impacted by humans.

        Recently read an article which pointed out that humans have had an impact on the CO2 equation for over 2000 years (Roman times), whereas the climatologists have been assuming that everything prior to the 1760’s was ‘normal’ and non-impacted by us. Turns out its not true. Humans started impacting methane levels when they first domesticated cattle and goats, burning fire in their caves, smelting metals – as has been evidenced by glacial cores. Strange how those scientists can be so smart, and yet so dumb as to ignore this.

        Nature will succeed. As she always does. Humans are but a blip on the map over a billion or two years.

        Like

      • Michael says:

        The democrats have become about the business of public employees. I do not even think they are aware of that. I am not buying that man impacted Co2 levels more than other animals. 2000 years ago. Thing is the earth is going to be just fine. It is a question about humans.

        Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2013 22:26:04 +0000 To: dayodayo@msn.com

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