|Issue 9||September 1996||Volume 1 - Number 9|
Welcome to Issue 9 of the CANDOER News. Suggestions as to what you would like to see in the CANDOER are welcome. Letters to the editor, articles consisting of general information, feature articles, G-rated jokes, or poems, written/submitted by retirees or OC/IM employees, past or present, will be published, unedited. Material may be submitted on a 3.5" floppy disk (disk will be returned) using WordPerfect Version 6.1 or earlier (if it contains graphics), on a plain sheet of paper (if it has no graphics) or via e-mail. The deadline for submitting material is no later than the 25th of each month. Material received after that date will be published in the next issue of the CANDOER, space allowing. Please, restrict articles/submissions to two single spaced, typed pages. No hand written submissions, please.
The snail-mail address for submissions or letters to the editor is:
Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
Publisher/Editor CANDOER News
2670 Dakota Street
Bryans Road, MD 20616-3062
The e-mail address for submissions or letters to the editor is:
At the August luncheon I registered the CANDOER Luncheon Group for the Frequent Friday's program. Every time we eat at Friday's, we will received 10 points for every dollar we spend (not including tip and taxes). For joining we received 1,000 points and because the bill for the August luncheon was 138.10 (before taxes and tip), we received 1,381 additional points. We have a total of 2,381 points.
For 5,750 points we can get a $15 Dining Certificate; for 11,000 points, we can get a $30 Dining Certificate; for 19,000 points, we can get a $50 Merchandise Certificate, (for Friday's wearables like sweatshirts, watches, or a jacket); for 37,000 points, we can get a $100 Merchandise Certificate; 80,000 points, we can get a Radisson Weekend; and, for 125,000 points, we can get Air Travel to any Friday's in the Continental U.S. I plan on collecting the points for the CANDOERs. We should collect about 11,000 a year (depending on attendance), so each time we get a total of 11,000 points I will hand out tickets and make a drawing. Anybody attending that luncheon will be eligible to win the $30 Dining Certificate.
The following is a three part series on Social Security, including its history, eligibility requirements, the "windfall" and "offset reduction" rules, and how they may or may not affect your CSRS annuity and/or your Social Security benefits.
THE HISTORY OF SOCIAL SECURITY
In the most advanced of modern industrial nations, the United States, the position of expendable workers is the worst. The richest 1% of U.S. households controls 40% of the nations wealth, and the poorest 20% of the population earns just 5.7% of total after-tax income. (That leaves 79% of the population, considered in the middle-class, with 54.3% of the total after-tax income.) These figures, for the distribution of wealth, are twice as large as those of Great Britain, a society commonly thought to have a wide divide separating rich and poor.
During periods of extreme economic retrenching, the number of people cast off by the economy spills over the normal barriers of invisibility. One such period of extreme economic dislocation was the Depression of the 1930s. Millions of people were displaced--not only from job, home and family, but from any hope for a place in the economy.
Faced with this crisis and with the possibility of massive social upheaval, Franklin Roosevelt and the Congress decided to act. Roosevelt pushed through a number of programs of national financial assistance--one of which was a system of retirement benefits called Social Security, enacted into law in 1935.
When benefits began, Social Security retirement cushioned slightly the crushing effects of the Depression. Retirement benefits were set at levels that were never enough to guarantee a standard of living above the poverty line. In 1939, Social Security benefits were extended to a retired worker's spouse and minor children; in 1956, to severely disabled workers.
In 1995, over 28 million people received retirement benefits averaging about $700 per month from the Social Security system. Over 5 million widows and widowers received survivors benefits; these averaged about $650 per month, and about 3.5 million spouses of retired or disabled workers received dependents benefits that averaged about $350 per month.
SOCIAL SECURITY DEFINED
Social Security is a series of connected programs, each with its own set of rules and payment schedules. All programs have one thing in common; benefits are paid---to a retired or disabled worker, or to the worker's dependent or surviving family---based on the worker's average wages, salary or self-employment income in work covered by Social Security.
The amount of benefits to which you are entitled under any Social Security program is not related to need, but based on the income you have earned through years of working. In most jobs, both you and your employer have paid Social Security taxes on the amounts you earned. Since 1951, Social Security taxes have also been paid on reported self-employment income. Social Security keeps a record of these earnings over your working lifetime, and pays benefits based upon the average amount earned. However, the only income considered is that on which Social Security tax was paid. Four basic categories of Social Security benefits are paid, based upon this record of your earnings: retirement, disability, dependents and survivors benefits.
1. Retirement Benefits.
You may chose to begin receiving retirement benefits at any time after you reach age 62; the amount of benefits will increase for each year you wait until age 70.
2. Disability Benefits.
If you are under 65 but have met the work requirements and are considered disabled under the program's medical guidelines, you can receive benefits roughly equal to what your retirement benefits would be.
3. Dependents Benefits.
If you are the spouse of a retired or disabled worker who qualifies for retirement or disability benefits, you and your minor or disabled children may be entitled to benefits based on the worker's earning record. This is true whether or not you actually depend on your spouse for support.
4. Survivors Benefits.
If you are the surviving spouse of a worker who qualified for retirement or disability benefits, you and your minor or disabled children may be entitled to benefits based on your deceased spouse's earnings record.
You may be qualified for more than one type of Social Security benefit. For example, you might be eligible for both retirement and disability, or you might be entitled to benefits based on your own retirement as well as on that of your retired spouse. You can collect whichever one of these benefits is higher, but not both.
COVERAGE FOR SPECIFIC WORKERS
There are special Social Security rules for coverage of some workers in certain sorts of employment.
A. Self-employed before 1951.
Self-employment earnings have only been covered by Social Security since 1951. Self-employment earnings before then had no Social Security tax obligations and so were not applied to a worker's earnings record.
B. Federal Government Workers.
If you were hired as an employee of the federal government on January 1, 1984, or after, all your work for the government since then has been covered by Social Security just as if you worked for a private employer. If you worked for the federal government before 1984, your work both before and after January 1, 1984, has been covered by the separate federal Civil Service Retirement System and is subject to the Government Pension Offset. (Explained later in this article.)
C. State and Local Government Workers.
Most state government employees are covered by a state's own pension or retirement system, and local government employees by a public agency retirement system, or PARS.
As of July 1, 1991, however, if you are among the more that two million people who work for a state or local government but are not covered by its pension or retirement fund, your work may be covered by Social Security.
D. Workers for Nonprofit Organizations.
Since 1984, all employment for charitable, educational, religious or other nonprofit organizations is covered by Social Security.
E. Members of the Military.
From January 1, 1957 on, all service personnel on active duty have paid Social Security taxes and so all active service from that dates is covered employment. Since 1988, periods of active service, such as reserve training, while on inactive duty, have also been covered.
If you served in the armed forces between 1940 and 1956, you may also have accumulated some Social Security work credits, if you met certain additional conditions.
F. Household Workers.
Household work---cleaning, cooking, gardening, child care, minor home repair work---has been covered by Social Security since 1951; work done before that date is not credited on a worker's earnings record.
G. Farm Workers.
Since 1954, farm and ranch work has been included in the Social Security system. If you do crop or animal farm work, your employer must report your earnings, pay Social Security taxes on them and withhold your share of Social Security taxes if you earn $150 or more in one year.
EARNING WORK CREDITS
You can earn up to four work credits each year, but no more than four regardless of how much you earn. Before 1978, work credits were measured in quarter-year periods; January through March, April through June, July through September, and October through December.
Between 1936 and 1978, you received one credit for each quarter in which you were paid $50 or more in wages in covered employment Between 1951 and 1978, you received one credit for each quarter in which you earned and reported $100 or more from self-employment.
Beginning in 1978, the rules were changed to make it easier to earn credits. From 1978 on, you received a credit for each fixed amount of earnings from covered employment regardless of the quarter in which you earned it, up to four credits per year. This means that if you earned all your money during one part of the year and nothing during other parts of the year, you could still accumulate the full four credits. The amount needed to earn one credit increases yearly. In 1995, it was $630. ........ continued in October 1996, Volume 1 - Number 10, of the CANDOER News.
The August luncheon was held at Friday's in Alexandria. In attendance were the following regulars: Bob Berger, Bob Campopiano, Bob Catlin, Don Denault, Charlie Ditmeyer, Harry Laury, Mel Maples, Will Naeher, Joe Pado, Nate Reynolds, Bob Scheller, Doc Sloan, Don Stewart, Val Taylor, and Tom Warren.
In addition, we had two people who attended a luncheon for the first time: Walt Abbott, who traveled 140 miles plus from Waynesboro, VA and Paul Nugnes, who traveled from the big city of Washington, D.C.. A big CANDOER WELCOME to you both. May you both find the time to attend many, many more CANDOER luncheons and events.
I have had a request for information about John Turner. If anyone could furnish any information, a telephone number, snail-mail address, e-mail address, etc., I would appreciate it.
Bob Liebau has had a set back in his recovery from two previous surgeries (See the CANDOER News, August 1996, Volume 1 - Number 8, Page 8, RETIREE'S REPORT). On Wednesday, July 31, 1996, Bob passed out, at home, and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. It was discovered that he was bleeding internally. He had surgery about 4 a.m. to stop the bleeding. His wife, Janine, reported he had to have 10 pints of whole-blood before and during the surgery. He was released from the Intensive Care Unit on Sunday, August 4. I visited him on the 5th and he was in good spirits, although very sore. He was allowed to get out of bed for the first time on Monday, August the 5th and started walking around with a walker on Tuesday the 6th. He was released on Monday, August the 12th, and is now convalescing at home.
I talked to Bob on the 19th and he is doing well. He reported he is still having to use a walker to get around, but I found him in good spirits and looking forward to getting back to his normal activities, including recovering enough to be able to attend a CANDOER luncheon.
I received a letter and donation to the News fund from Bob Riberia. Bob reports he and Nivea are "enjoying their quiet retirement life in Miami." Bob would like to hear from friends and colleagues.
I had a long conversation with Ed Carroll on Wednesday, August 14. Ed's wife, Barbara, has been very sick, including spending several days in the hospital. She had a sever asthma attack and a collapsed lung which required immediate hospitalization. Ed reports she is doing better now but is limited in how much she can travel, so they have missed the last few lunches. He and Barbara hope to make the September luncheon in Rockville.
In a telephone conversation with Jim Casey on Thursday, August 15, he said he and his wife were doing well. Jim is planning to retire on September 30, 1997, after taking the three month job search program, starting July 1, 1997. Jim said he will be serving on a promotion panel (you retirees remember those things) and won't be able to make any of the luncheons for a while, but hopes to make one as soon as he completes the panel.
Tom Warren gave me a roster of the members of the Florida Foreign Service Retirement Association (FSRA). If you need the address of a retiree in Florida, I may be able to obtain it from the FSRA roster.
Shortly after talking to Jim, I received a call from Gerry Gendron. Gerry and his wife are doing well. Gerry is working two days a week for the VIP group in IM. Gerry gave me his e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Gerry said he would like to hear from friends and colleagues and that he was going to try to make the October luncheon at Friday's.
On Friday, August 16, I received a completed CANDOER Personal Data Form and a contribution to the News fund from Bill Bischoff. Bill is working with Tom Warren and several other retirees at CSC.
Late Friday evening, August 16, I talked with Carl Stout's wife for about 15 minutes. She said that both her and Carl are working, (he got bored after two years of retirement). Both are doing well. On Saturday, I received an e-mail from Carl confirming his address and reporting that he and his wife would be traveling during September, but he hoped to make the October luncheon.
On Monday, August 19, I talked with Virginia Cafolla. Virginia stated she is doing well and hopes to make our October luncheon at Friday's. She is going to be in Rhode Island next month and will be unable to attend the September luncheon.
It is with deep regret I wish to inform you of the death of CommTech Paul Terry. Paul died on August 14th at his home in Eugene, Oregon, of heart failure. He was 70.
Paul came into the Foreign Service in about 1954 from the Army Signal Corps. His last three postings were as General Services Officer.
A card of sympathy was sent to Nancy in the name of the CANDOER Luncheon Group.
The above information was obtained from Jim Prosser.
It is with deep regret that I wish to inform you of the death of a long-time employee of DC/T, OC/T, and IM, Dumont A. Walker. Dumont worked in the Reproduction/ARCS sections for over 30 years. At the time of his death, August 16, 1996, Dumont had retired and was living at a nursing home in the District of Columbia.
The above information was obtained from Mel Maples and confirmed by Clarence (Smitty) and Anne Smith.
The years 1933/1934 saw the WPA in action in Buffalo County; in case you do not remember, this program was created by FDR, to make jobs during the depression. Today we would call it work/welfare. But enough of politics. The South Loup River had quite a radical semi-circular bend about three-quarters of a mile upstream from the bridge over highway 10, which led from our little town to Kearney, 18 miles south on this graveled road.
During the summer and fall of 1933, the WPA men worked about 6 months digging a direct route channel to reroute the river and eliminate this bend. This was done with shovels and wheelbarrows--one really big job. After digging a trench (ditch??) about 1000 feet in length and 15 to 20 feet wide, many attempts were made to induce the river to enter its new channel. Day by day, wheelbarrow load after load of dirt was dumped in such a way as to make a dam. Of course this dirt was almost immediately washed away by the flowing current. Not one drop of water entered the new channel, except perhaps the perspiration of the workers.
Winter came and the project was abandoned. The WPA went into the outhouse business. I am not making this up; for a modest fee anyone could have a nice 2-holer built on a concrete base at some suitable location on their property. I have first hand knowledge of this--we had one built out near the barns and we used it.
But back to the river and its proposed new path. The winter of 1933-34 passed and with spring came the rains. The river rose, barely staying within its banks, water shot down the new channel, widened it a great bit, and with the current diminishing on the old channel, it began to fill itself with sand. In two days, the new channel was formed.
But there was a down side to this. The new channel directed the main force of all this high water precisely to the north side of the bridge down stream. In a matter of hours, it washed out the north approach, the bridge, still anchored on the south side, made a neat 90 degree shift and was pointing down stream. It took them four months to build a new bridge.
EDITOR'S NOTE: In its effort to bring the U.S. economy out of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress created, for workers still unemployed, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to provide them with work relief to stem the erosion of their skills and self-respect. The WPA employed an average of 2,100,000 workers and by the end of 1935 was bringing a marked measure of recovery to the economy by pouring billions of dollars back into the U.S. economy. It ceased to exist in 1943. END EDITORS NOTE
Jim Kelly was serving in the code room (remember them?) in Saigon in December 1954. He had developed a bad case of amoebic dysentery that local French doctors failed to eradicate. So he flew up to Hong Kong for treatment there.
Arriving in Hong Kong in mid-afternoon, he checked into the Peninsula Hotel on the mainland, then took the Star Ferry over to the doctor's office on the island.
The doctor told him it was closing time for his office, and instructed him to return first thing in the morning with a stool specimen and he would then start the tests to determine a course of action.
Back at the hotel, Jim wondered what he would use in which to put the stool specimen. He went down to the tobacconist in the lobby and purchased a tin of British Players cigarettes. (Those days in the far east imported cigarettes were usually sold in tins to preserve freshness.)
In the morning, Jim emptied the tin of Players cigarettes, carefully aimed the stool specimen into the tin, put it in his overcoat pocket, and walked across the street where he boarded the Star Ferry again. When he arrived at the Hong King island terminal, he discovered the Players tin gone. A pick-pocket had removed it! Imagine the pick-pocket's surprise!
Jim was furious because he had to go back to the hotel and repeat the process all over. (In his condition, I suspect it wasn't too difficult.)
After reading Chapter III, (CANDOER News, July 1996, Volume 1 - Number 7), of Joe's article on "Growing up in Nebraska," Marvin Konopik sent me, via e-mail, the following article on what he remembered about the telephone system in the area he grew up in.
There was a common word in the days of early telephones, called "rubbering," as in I was rubbering today and heard Lucy tell Pete some stuff that was awful. Only "rubbernecks" did the rubbering.
Our farm had a phone number 17F111 which was for long distance service however locally our calls were identified by a Short Long Short (Short ring, Long ring, Short ring).
During an emergency like a fire or flood, when a farmer needed the help of neighbors the phone was rung seven times which alerted everybody to pick up their phones and listen in on who needed help.
The telephone system was owned by a group of farmers and since it had only a single line was limited in the number of subscribers or co-owners. Ours had about 16 families. Twice a year the owners all got together to replant the poles, replace the glass insulators that the hunters shot off and replace weak batteries.
Later Ma Bell came through with the dial system and made a deal with the farmers. Sign over your telephone system to them, kick in a few hundred bucks each and they would hook the system to the network with dial phones. The wires did not change, but we were provided with special dial phones. When you lifted the receiver you could hear if the line was free or in use. The microphone was muted. To use the phone you had to pull up on one of the receiver buttons and then you would have dial tone. This made rubbering a full time occupation. In every home the receiver was never returned to the cradle but laid down facing the room so you could walk by and hear if somebody was talking. No trip through the house was done in a straight line, there was always a swing by the phone, lest you miss hearing the latest gossip. Before guests entered the house the receiver had to be hung up.
One of the last great gossips heard was when the bank called a neighbor to come in and sign his card and the beef farmer thought he was broke and wanted to know how much money he had in his account. The bank said they couldn't tell him. Well, he let them know in a few words that by gosh (not his words) that it was his money and they better darn well tell him how much he had in his account. So the bank relented and told him not to worry, that he had about $80 thousand in his checking account.
When he heard that he responded, "Boy that s*** really piles up." This story made the county in seconds. Saturday night in town his phrase and his farm were the number one topic. For years, until his death, everybody driving by his farm took special note on how he was doing and whether the stuff was still piling up.