I do not usually think or worry about getting older but lately it has been on my mind a lot. There are a couple factors why. They are infuriating because it is all beyond my control. There is nothing at this point I can do to rectify the situation except speak out. For those who are under thirty, beware and prepare. You will get screwed when you get to the point of retirement. Even if you are a long ways away from that, it will come, and sooner than you think.
Here is the first shock. Health insurance. You think you have it all covered with Medicare. Wrongo! We pay all our working lives into a system that is supposed to take care of you when you retire. It does not. We even protected ourselves with supplemental insurance. My husband has reached his “donut hole, which is a sugary way of saying he is getting screwed. His pharmaceutical needs are now not being completely covered. He has to pay over $3800.00 out of his own pocket before his insurance will again pick up the major cost of his drugs. One of his drugs cost over $400.00 to refill, and granted it was a 90 day supply, it still is huge. This is one of his drugs. We are ok, but it was a shock and it angered me. Actually, it pissed me off beyond anger. When my turn comes it will be holy hell. One drug I am on is over $1900.00 a month. Won’t take me long to get out of the donut hole….. But then Medicare probably won’t pay for this drug. That’s four years away.
We were lulled into thinking that Medicare was great because his prescriptions up until this point were almost being paid for completely. What do people do on limited incomes? If you are thinking when you retire you can live on Social Security, think again. They take taxes and the cost of Medicare insurance and your supplemental insurance right off the top of your check.
Here’s another shock. I cannot retire until I am 66, not 65, 66! Anyone born after a certain age has longer to wait until they can get their full social security. AND…..if I want to work, I have a limit as to how much I can earn before they take money away from me. My husband can make no more than about $15,000.00 a year. He is a substitute teacher and so it works for him, but it is not right or fair. I cannot touch my social security because I make too much money! Even though I paid into it and I am eligible to take it at 62, it would not be worth it.
It would not be worth it because it is taxable income. We do not make enough money to have tax loop holes to protect us so every year we get screwed by taxes. As you get older, there are fewer things to deduct like children and property. The only savings grace is if you deduct your cost of medical expenses. It has saved us every year, but we still have to pay more at the end of the year.
Here is another gripe. My mother-in-law is in a nursing home. She is on hospice. She requires no special medications or interventions. She can still transfer herself with assistance. She mostly sits in a chair or in bed all day long. It is a horrible existence and yet she holds on. She has Alzheimer’s and comes and goes with awareness. The facility she is in is like a warehouse of elderly folks just waiting to die. My in-laws were not rich, but my father-in-law was frugal and put money away. She is private pay. It costs $15,000.00 a month for her to reside where she does. There are cheaper places but you get what you pay for. If she was Medicaid, like the majority of the patients in the facility, it is about half the cost. Same place, same care. My father-in-law’s wishes were to each of his children to have an inheritance and he provided for it. But I think my sister-in-law has tapped into that, but that is a whole other story of getting screwed. My point is, they saved all this money and had a good life. Because of that, my mother-in-law does not qualify for government assistance and is being unfairly charged. My husband’s cousin is a lawyer who works in the nursing home field. He says that’s the way it is. His mother is getting the same screw job in the facility she is in and he cannot do anything about it.
Here is the wonder of it. For $15000.00 a month, she has a tiny room with a bed, a TV and a large chair. Activities are to go down to the nursing station and hang out in your wheel chair. When we visit, there is usually a ring of folks, mostly sleeping, in their wheel chairs or on the few big chairs in the hall. There is a TV playing but no one can see it. They get ushered into the dining room, fed crappy food that stinks, and then wheeled either back to their rooms or a chair in the hall. They sleep most of the time. $15K a month. Think of what you could live like with that kind of money. The staff are very nice and treat her well but not all the time. They steal her candy and other gifts. And we never know whose clothes she is wearing. One time, not one item was hers that she had on. She looked fantastic, but it was ironic. We never found out how or why she had someone else’s stuff. This is her life now. She does not know us most of the time. She did not get to say good-bye to her husband of 62 years when he died last summer. She sits in her chair and sleeps. She does not eat but will drink her nutrition drink. She is slowly wasting away. All this for $15000.00 a month.
This is something else I am noticing. There is definitely age discrimination in the workplace. I have been watching the blatant shift in my organization. When I started, the median age was closer 40 and many people working there had over 25 years in. When the new CEO and crew can on board, many retired or were asked to retire. Those who remained have been reassigned and it seems like they are making their lives very uncomfortable. One guy who started with me was moved from an auditing position in Corporate Compliance to Quality when the new director came on board. She is in her late thirties and a friend of the new CEO. His new position required that he be able to do home visits. Even though he is a nurse, he had not been practicing nursing for over twenty years or more. He was 71, but very active and not too many people would know how old he is. He was a good auditor, but let go because he could not fulfill his new job. They knew that going in and they were hoping he would retire, but he didn’t. I will not be surprised if there is a law suit unless they gave him a package to go. I have seen the arm twisted with a few other folks as well who seem even more obstinate than smart. But if they want to work and can physically do their job, leave them alone. One lady says she keeps working because it keeps her active and feeling needed. She is 76.
I know in my heart that I have no desire to work past 66. I can retire this year, but the health insurance will keep me working for at least three more years. My biggest fear is that I will die before I have a chance to spend all the money my husband and I have put away for “our retirement.” And my other fear is that by the time I can, the taxes and the cost of living will be so prohibitive we will not be able to enjoy our “sunset years.” (What a horrible name) It is a gamble that the government makes with everyone. They are hoping you will die before you start taking you social security. That is why they keep pushing the age up. They also tax any 401 or other retirement funds you start using heavily until you reach 70, hoping you won’t touch that either. And that’s because they do not want you to have to use Medicaid. They want you solvent and paying for your nursing home care.
Donut hole is not an appropriate name for the real situation. It is not sweet and soft at all. Getting old is a real bitch so enjoy what you can now.