It’s the HOLIDAYS. I know this be true because Medicare’s “open enrollment” for Part D and Advantage Plans ended two days ago.
So, what’s something that a lot us enjoy doing during the holidays? OK … what’s another thing that a lot of us enjoy doing during the holidays? Right, eat.
I know what you’re thinking: You’re thinking that I’m going to go on a binge about over-eating and obesity and all the bad health stuff that comes from all of that and blah blah blah…Wrong. I’m going to go on a binge about not eating enough.
Look: If you can’t afford to buy food (or enough of it), it’s tough to eat. Or if you can’t, for any number of good reasons, shop or cook or whatnot (at least, very well), it’s tough to eat – at least, very well.
And if you spend most of your time alone, it can be tough to get excited about eating, or shopping, or cooking; so, sometimes, we just don’t.
So, what? Well it’s the holidays. Help somebody. Invite somebody over who could stand to have a good meal — and some company. Take some food that isn’t a fruitcake (because that’s not “food”) to someone who might not have it any other way. Offer to take somebody shopping with you.
Donate some money to a food bank or a meal site or an agency that actually feeds people. Money isn’t your strong suit at the moment? OK, offer to help — they’ll take it.
Go help set up or decorate or serve or clean up or take out the garbage (well, how do you suppose these things actually happen?) — and take the kids or grandkids with you, because it wouldn’t hurt them to learn how these things actually happen.
You get it, right? Real life can be tough, and if it is, the holidays can just make it tougher, so if you’re looking for a reason to feel thankful at this time of year, go do something that will give somebody else a reason to feel that way — and watch what happens to you.
Aw, come on. It’s the holidays. Food matters.
Now, just a casual little reminder about a little something that has nothing to do with food, but it does have to do with money: Are we remembering that on March 1 of 2013 paper checks for Social Security, SSI, VA, Railroad Retirement, etc are going away?
No, the money isn’t going away, but the paper checks are, so by 3/1/2013, you’re going to have to have made arrangements for a direct deposit into a bank or credit union account OR you’re going to get your payment directed into a “Direct Express” debit card account.
Now, the fact is that the vast majority of us have long-since arranged for direct deposit and appear to be living happily-ever-after, but if you haven’t, HEADS UP. Because come March, you’re going to have to do something! You can go to www.godirect.org to get more info or you can call any of the numbers at the end of the column and decent people will help you, for free.
And, as long as I’ve drifted into the realm of Social Security, I might as well answer some of the miscellaneous questions that have come along, because of one asks, ten want to know:
*”OK, since you brought it up, when are Social Security benefits actually paid?” The answer is that it depends upon when your birthday is: If you were born on the 1st through the 10th day of whatever month, your Social Security money shows up on the second Wednesday of the month. If your birthday falls on the 11th through the 20th day, look for the money on the third Wednesday and if your birthday is on the 21st through the 31st day of the month, you can celebrate with money on the 4th Wednesday – and if you’re receiving benefits as a spouse, the money appears based on the spouse’s birth date.
Wednesdays are good days.
*”How can I get a copy of my “Social Security Statement?” You can’t (no, I’m kidding…); of course you can! Go to www.socialsecurity.gov/statement and have at it. This is a swell little tool – I’ve done it. You can get pretty good estimates for retirement, disability and/or survivors benefits as well as making sure that your earnings have been accurately recorded (NOTE: This is just smart, because if there is a mistake, you only have three years to correct it!). Social Security now only sends paper statements to folks 60 or better and (starting last July) to folks the year they turn 25.
I have no idea why they picked “25.”
Well, as long as we’re talking about “swell little tools,” if you retirement and/or Social Security is something you’re even beginning to think about (or wondering if there’s any point in thinking about it at all) try Social Security’s online “Retirement Estimator” at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator and take your time. You can learn a lot, play with some “what-if’s” and generally get smarter, so give it a shot.
*How can I get rid of last year’s fruit cake?” You can’t — they’re not bio-degradable.
Mark Harvey is the director of Senior Information and Assistance for Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He can be reached at email@example.com or 532-0520 in Aberdeen, (360) 942-2177 in Raymond or (360) 642-3634. FACEBOOK: Olympic Area Agency on Aging-Information & Assistance.