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Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Year (more or less) Of Transition

For those of you who haven't figured it out yet, I am officially an "old fart"... or an old crone, which actually fits me better. I turned 65 this year and thus qualified to begin the insanity of dealing with Medicare. The full Social Security Follies being next year when I reach "full retirement age." I have a lot of company, it seems, as I keep seeing articles about the Boomer generation reaching retirement age, with lots of suggestions and warnings.

I know for sure we are not all alike. Learned that again a few months ago when I called the local Area on Aging to get some questions answered about the extra stuff you are required to buy for insurance when you sign up for Medicare. They would not just answer what I thought was a simple question, but insisted that I attend a two hour class... 99% of which had no relevance to me. Their information was aimed at affluent (... well, at least middle class, if there is such a thing these days) retirees. They had no class for "po' folks" like this not-startive-but-not-rolling-in-dough artist. I knew for sure there was no money in the budget to pay for additional "part this" or "part that" insurance. I'm not proud to say it, but what medical care I have had of late has been provided by my local hospital on their "sliding scale" ... which I fell off the bottom of with room to spare. The only "reassurance" the AA folks could give me was that "if" I qualified for help paying the additional premiums, what I had paid would be refunded to my Social Security. ... which I don't receive for a year. They were also kind enough to point out that since I was not drawing my benefit yet, I would be billed for these new, required insurances quarterly.

What they did NOT say was that, as official po' folk (receiving food stamps), most likely I would automatically be enrolled in my state medical program when I turned 65. The application for both programs is the same and they "vet" you for both upon each year's update. I was automatically enrolled even before I bit the bullet and filled out the Medicare forms.

THAT stress is out of the way (though I am pretty sure I will have to dedicate an entire file cabinet to insurance crap by next year, even though I am really not under the doctor's care for anything. My knees -- a chronic condition -- were put on the "call us when you can't stand the pain" basis by the specialist a few years ago). But as I work toward being able to draw my SS pittance (my only pension) it occurred to me that setting aside this year, more or less, as an official Year of Transition would be a good thing.

I have one very concrete goal: eliminate my credit card debt and any other debt that I can before I stop working my part time job. My SS will be a bit (but not much) less than I make on average from my part time job in town. There is a mortgage, a school loan and that's about it. There is overhead... utilities, fuel, repairs, etc. of course and I do have a partner who helps with expenses. And I do not plan to stop painting hex signs (actually will have more time to do this work that I so enjoy!) nor to stop gardening. Whether I continue to sell produce is up in the air at present.

My retirement actually won't look all that much different that life now, I hope. ..Minus the 4 or 5 days a week trips to Bangor and plus about $200 a month that I won't be spending on gas to get to work, that is...I have no desire to travel, to move, to do anything much different other than be more able to live the life that I have chosen more in tune with the seasons, the flow of work on the farm and the ebb and flow of my energy.

As part of my Year of Transition, I will be starting to ask for my holidays as days off, beginning with Equinox this fall. Being able to set aside days to sync with the seasons is something I miss by being in the mundane retail universe.

And that is where I am now on this journey. More updates later, as they happen.