Day 38, Social Security

Tuesday 1/8/2019

I started the day with a brisk walk to the YMCA and my (short, perfunctory) round of strength exercises.

Today was the day for the long-anticipated appointment with the Social Security that I’d been given on Day 12. Then I’d been unable to complete the process because I hadn’t brought proof of marriage. I’d been worrying about whether the government shutdown would be affecting SS offices, but no, everything was operating normally. I only had to wait a few minutes, and in fact I think my name was called within a minute or so of 1pm, my scheduled appointment time.

I’d left early and stopped to pick up some kind of lunch at a Safeway store across from the SS office. When checking out there I had realized to my great chagrin, that I didn’t have my wallet with ID and credit cards. I had carried it on my exercise outing and neglected to transfer it from my shorts to my jeans when I dressed. Well, no biggie, I knew right where it was, on the dresser, and shouldn’t need it, right?

So what is the first thing the very nice and helpful SS clerk asked for when I sat down? My ID, of course! God damn I felt like a… like a forgetful old fart, is what. But he said smoothly, “No problem, I’ll just ask you some security questions,” and proceeded to grill me about where I was born, mother’s maiden name, and a few other things. After some more interrogation he told me that my Survivor Benefit would have the effect of raising my SS payment by about $400/month. Mentally I calculated that would mean I’d be getting about the same amount that Marian used to get, a bit over $1600/month.

In the end, the net effect of (a) the end of Marian’s IBM pension, (b) the end of her SS payment, offset by (c) the increase in my SS and (d) some reduction of monthly expenses (I’m paying way less for groceries than before, for example), is a drop of about $3500 in the monthly household income. In the past we lived comfortably off our combined pensions. Going forward, it is clear I will have to begin to dip into the nest egg on a regular basis. Fortunately the nest egg is pretty chunky and can survive many years of dipping. (Actually, now I think about it, just raising the “required minimum distribution” out of my IRA somewhat above the minimum will come close to covering the shortfall.)

Back home and with my wallet back in my pocket, I made out the check for the first quarter estimated tax payment and mailed that. When Marian did our taxes last spring, she had prepared the federal and state quarterly estimated tax vouchers, each with its mailing envelope and a big post-it note with the date by which it should be mailed. Today I mailed the federal one with the “1/15” post-it. One remains, the state one to mail before “2/1”. And that will be the end of Marian’s carefully prepared tax materials. I’ll have to step up for the next cycle. Me, the guy who walks out of the house without his wallet.

Suli, our cleaning lady, came today. I showed her the remaining items in Marian’s closet and she said she’d take them all, “for my mother”. OK, fine. And when I got back from the SS, that side of the closet was empty at last. I moved my collection of hats to the upper shelf on that side.

I spent some time inventorying our collection of basketball memorabilia. We had a number of items relating to the short-lived San Jose Lasers professional team: sweatshirts, signed team photos, etc. I emailed a friend, another Lasers fan, with the list. She’s very well-connected into that fan base and will forward the list. Hopefully somebody will want some of these things.



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