Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Social Security

Sometimes I'm like the person who's afraid to go to the doctor because they're afraid they'll be diagnosed with cancer, as if staying away from the doctor will keep the cancer away. A niggling worry has been eating at me; what would become of me financially if I were suddenly alone? Poverty is an equal opportunity employer. I went into a funk over it the other day.

So I got proactive and researched a bit about social security. A lot of women, me being one, drop out of the workforce to rear up children. Since I'm currently short enough credits to qualify for my own social security I will receive nothing when I reach retirement age. Our youngest son will be 18 when I'm 58 so it's entirely possible I may return to the workforce someday. If I had enough credits, but my husband's retirement was more than mine, I could receive 50% of his instead of mine. That's all moot at this point in time because I don't have the credits.

But, if my husband dies I would qualify for widow's benefits. That's different. In that case if I were to begin receiving benefits at the earliest age possible, age 60, I'd get the least monthly amount; 71% of my husband's full benefit amount. If I were to wait till my full retirement age, and me being born in 1959 makes age 67 and ten months full retirement age, then I would receive 100% of my husband's social security amount.

I feel much better. My husband earned six figures so he's at or very close to the very top of the benefits schedule amount. No one lives a high life on social security alone but if you live within your means you will not starve, so at minimum I will not starve. Plus I have my two sons so I will not be all alone in the world. But I want to be self-sufficient. I won't be a clinging vine to my children. I would send myself off on an ice floe before I'd be a clinging fine.

Of course don't remind me that social security's gonna fold by the time I'm old or I'll have to go into another funk. I am diminutive by nature so it's hard to imagine being alone. I am a wife and well suited to wifedom. But Reta is alone now, and it will happen to me someday too. I am not afraid. I am not afraid.