Friday, July 31, 2009

I'm Not Patty Duke

I spent the morning at the Social Security Office with young Walker. It seems that my trying to conserve your tax dollars by not letting the State of Tennessee pay for Medicare Part B on Walker’s behalf because we had perfectly good insurance coverage for him already through the airline may mean that he will enter a period of not having any insurance coverage at all when I turn 65 in October.

It’s complicated, but it seems that even though the airline insurance benefits for him extended until I turned sixty five, he should have gotten part B within eight months of his dad’s last “employment.” He is eligible to apply between January and March of next year for coverage, at a penalized rate, (10% for each of 6 years) to begin in July of 2010.

Our state, like many states, is cutting funds for services to those with disabilities, called TennCare, and a review of Walker’s earnings showed that his income (minimum wage, plus a dollar or so) is too high to qualify under the new guidelines. The person who called to inform me of this on behalf of an agency I didn't get the name of advised me to "just get him Part B." I wish it had been that easy.

What I thought would only require a phone call to Social Security led to my having to come in and prove guardianship/conservatorship although I had been listed as his conservator since he turned eighteen and became eligible for SSI on his own behalf. I provide him with a full time, although apparently inept, full time social worker on site.

Walker has a job because most adults have a job and pay taxes and part or all of their living expenses, and we thought he should too. He has worked at the same job, happily for the most part, for over eleven years. He receives minimal services from the State or Federal Government, only a fraction of what he qualifies for.

Anyway, we ended up at the Social Securty office along with all the other needy and unwashed and ineligible for phone or internet sign up. While we waited, an endless loop of promotions was playing on a television. With no other options for entertainment, I soon found myself watching Patty Duke reprising her role of "identical cousins" encouraging those awaiting services to consider using the internet to sign up for Social Security and Medicare.

In my humble opinion, by the way, Patty and her identical cousin look WAY older than I or any of my friends. Maybe she qualified several years back…like maybe ten or so. When I got home, I actually did take her advice and got myself enrolled with three months to spare. Here’s hoping I wasn’t unknowingly supposed to have done that six years ago when my husband retired from the airline, because if I was, I didn’t. You for sure don’t want to see what happens to me minus medical coverage.

I hope my panic today is totally unwarranted. I hope that people like Walker won’t have to rely on dummies like me to make sure their needs are met. I hope my next effort to save taxpayer dollars doesn't turn out quite so badly.


Sunday, July 5, 2009


I read the paper this morning, doing my usual haphazard job of scanning for articles and editorials that might have some relevance to my life. I read all the scathing letters to the editor about the unfortunate recent events of local politics in which our mayor called our District 9 representative to congress an a___hole. I scanned the advice columns for tips on mental and physical health which didn’t offer any diagnosis of illness in anyone I know. Then I read the comics, my favorite way of taking the temperature of the populous, which seems locally to be made up of animal lovers and Neanderthals in various settings.

Then big Walker got up and began his tedious perusal of the same paper that I had read in about fifteen minutes. Within a few minutes he had carefully read a full page ad posted by Hobby Lobby with various historical tidbits in honor of Independence Day. One statement popped out for Walker. There were only two signers of the Bill of Rights, John Adams and another unnamed person. Who was that person, and why only two signers?

Half an hour later, with our household at a complete halt, we had Googled the subject to death and finally found the name of the second guy after several false leads. It was Frederick A C Muhlenberg, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. I suppose he was the Nancy Pelosi of his day.

We found out that the original Bill of Rights written by James Madison was debated for quite a few years, then finally approved by the House and Senate, minus the first two items of the original twelve.

After we put that question to rest, I resumed making a dessert, the only thing I really like to cook, for a potluck going away party for dear friends. The gathering reminded me of when we were young…same friends, different location. It was a bittersweet acknowledgment that we’re all moving on whether we want to or no..

The timing of our party resulted in little Walker being given coveted tickets to see Wicked compliments of another friend, making one of his most recent dreams come true. By the time he had mentioned wanting to see it, scalper prices for nosebleed seats were out of the question. He has already written Bonnie a thank you note, declaring it the best celebration of the Fourth of July in America…ever! Not sure what he and Theresa, who had never seen a play before, did after, but he came home a happy guy.

I love some things about my life…wondering about something and finding the answer, spending time with old friends, having a great dinner that I mostly didn’t cook, and my children being happy. I hope to remember those things always.