|Issue 11||November 1996||Volume 1 - Number 11|
Welcome to Issue 11 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:
The December issue will be an abbreviated version of the news. I will resume the full CANDOER News in January 1997 with Volume 2 - Number 2. This issue will start a series of articles about Jim Prosser's July 1996 trip on the Trans-Siberian Express from Moscow to Vladivostok.
The abbreviated December issue will include a separate, CANDOER Directory listing names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, dates of retirement and day and month of birth of all CANDOERs.
There are exceptions to this rule. If you have 30 years or more of "substantial" earnings in a job where you paid Social Security taxes the 90% factor is not used. If you have 21-29 years of substantial earnings, the 90% factor is reduced to somewhere between 45 and 85 percent. The second table shows the percentage used depending on the number of years of "substantial" earnings.
*total credited earnings from 1937-1950 are divided by $900 to get the number of years of coverage (maximum of 14 years).
|YEAR OF SUBSTANTIAL EARNINGS||PERCENTAGE|
|30 or more||90%|
|20 or less||40%|
The windfall reduction does not apply to you if:
your only work for an employer not covered by Social Security was before 1957;
your only government pension is based solely on work for the railroad;
you were a federal government employee hired on January 1, 1984, or after;
you were employed on December 31, 1983, by a nonprofit organization that was exempt from Social Security and it became mandatorily covered under Social Security on that date.
Workers with relatively low pensions are protected because the reduction in the Social Security benefit under the modified formula cannot be more than one-half of that part of the pension attributable to earnings after 1956 not covered by Social Security.
EARNED INCOME WITHOUT PENALTY
The amount of earned income you are permitted without loss of Social Security retirement benefits depends on our age. The amount changes each year. In 1996, the limits on earned income are $8,280 per year if you were age 62 to 64; $11,520 if your age is 65 to 69. Once you turn age 70, there is no limit at all on the mount you can earn and still receive your full Social Security retirement benefit.
REPORTING EARNINGS OVER THE BENEFITS LIMIT
Every year by April 15, you must confirm your estimated earnings for the past year and give an estimate for the next year. You do so on what is called an Annual Earnings Report that Social Security sends to all people under age 70 who are receiving retirement benefits.
If the earnings you report for the past year are higher than what you previously estimated for Social Security, your current benefits will be temporarily reduced to make up the difference. If you did not earn as much as you had reported, your current benefits will be temporarily raised.
If you do not file a report and you have income over the limit, you could be required not only to pay back all benefit over-payments made to you but also to forfeit one month's benefits.
Once you reach age 70, you no longer have to file the Annual Earnings Report.
OFFSET FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT PENSION
If you worked enough years for a local, state or federal government agency, you may be entitled to a civil service retirement pension. However, if you are also entitled to a Social Security survivors benefit based on your deceased spouse's work record, you may lose a portion of that survivors benefit.
If you are entitled to Social Security survivors benefits and also a public employment retirement pension based on your own work record, your survivors benefits are reduced dollar for dollar by two-thirds of the amount of your pension. There is no such offset, however, if the public pension you receive is as a surviving spouse rather than as a retiree on your own work record. You can collect survivors benefits from both programs without affecting your Social Security benefits.
This rule will not only affect how much our combined government pension and dependents benefits are, but it may also cause you to choose to collect your own Social Security retirement benefits, if you are eligible for them, rather than Social Security survivors benefits. The combination of your public employment retirement pension and your own Social Security retirement benefits may total a higher amount than your survivors benefits reduced by two-thirds the amount of your pension.
The public pension offset rule does not apply if you were eligible for Social Security survivors benefits before December 1, 1977, or you were eligible to receive a public employment pension before December 1, 1982, and you meet the pre-1977 rules, which required that a divorced spouse had been married 20 years, rather than 10 (which is now the rule), to collect survivors benefits.
CSRS BENEFITS AND SOCIAL SECURITY
If your federal employment is covered by CSRS, it is NOT also covered by the Social Security system. However, most people who worked for the federal government under CSRS also have worked, or will work, at some other jobs during their lifetimes. If that other work is covered by Social Security retirement benefits, you CAN collect both your retirement benefits and your CSRS annuity but it may be subject to the "windfall elimination provision."
If you receive a CSRS pension and also Social Security survivors benefits based on your spouse's work record---rather than Social Security retirement benefits based on your own work record---those benefits will be severely reduced. This is known as the "government pension offset" rule. If you are receiving a CSRS annuity as the survivor of a CSRS worker, this rule does not apply.
HOW MUCH IS THE OFFSET
The offset will reduce the mount of your Social Security spouse's benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension. In other words, if you get a monthly civil service pension of $900, two-thirds of that, or $600, must be used to offset your Social Security spouse's benefits.
PENSION REDUCTION - OFFSET OR WINDFALL
I hope this series of three articles helps you to better understand how the Offset and Windfall rules affects you as a retired federal employee. It comes down to two things, although you may not be affected by the GOVERNMENT PENSION OFFSET rules, you may be affected by the WINDFALL ELIMINATION PROVISION rules. I have listed the guidelines for both rules, check them closely and it may answer your questions. If it does not, I recommend you DO NOT call 1-800-772-1213 (Social Security Information), the only thing they will do is send you the two fact sheets I used to obtain some of the above information. They seemed unable or incapable of answering anything more than very BASIC questions. Instead, I suggest, If you want real answers to your questions, call your local Social Security office and make an appointment to see a personal representative. Bring with you your Social Security number and a copy of your latest Notice of Annuity Adjustment (RI 38-38). I found them to be very helpful and patient in answering all my questions.
The following four publications were used to obtain facts for this article:
Government Pension Offset -- How It May Affect You, SSA Publication Number 05-10007 (May 1995), obtained from my local Social Security Administration office.
A Pension From Work Not Covered By Social Security, SSA Publication Number 05-10045 (January 1996), obtained from my local Social Security Administration office.
How your Retirement Benefit Is Figured, SSA Publication Number 05-10070 (January 1995), obtained from my local Social Security Administration office.
Social Security, Medicare and Pensions, by Joseph L. Matthews with Dorothy Mathews Berman, 6th Edition, edited by Barbara Kate Repa, published by NOLO Press. I found this book at my local branch of the Charles County Public Library. This book covers in detail not only Social Security Benefits, but Social Security Disability Benefits, Social Security Survivors Benefits, Social Security Dependent Benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Applying for Benefits, Appealing Social Security Decisions, Medicare, Medicare Procedures, Medigap Insurance, Medicaid and State Supplements to Medicare, CSRS/FERS Retirement, Veterans Benefits, Private Pensions and 401 (k) Plans.
The following CANDOERs attended the October Luncheon at TGIFriday's: Bob Berger, Bob Campopiano, Jim Carter, Bob Catlin, Paul Del Giudice, Charlie Ditmeyer, Harry Laury, Bob Liebau, Mel Maples, Babe Martin, Will Naeher, Joe Pado, Nate Reynolds, Bob Scheller, Doc Sloan and Val Taylor.
In addition we had one new member attend. I would like to extend a big CANDOER WELCOME to Leroy Farris who attended his first luncheon. We hope it is not your last.
On October 9, Mel Bladen started a new job with Miss Utilities for Calvert, St. Marys, and Charles counties in Southern Maryland. He will be working this new job full time. He reported that the job he quit, as a draw bridge operator, had to many ups and downs and wasn't going any where.
I received an e-mail from Bill Harrison. Bill is Director, RIMC Fort Lauderdale. He said he opened his five year window of opportunity so he will be working for at least five more years.
I received a telephone call from Gene Caruso in response to my letter of September 16 to retirees. Gene retired from State in 1973. He plays golf almost every day and says he has a handicap of only 20. He enters many golf tournaments and is enjoying his life in Florida. He would like to hear from friends. He also gave me the name address and telephone number of two other retirees, Bill Ward and Ray Watson.
I tried to call Bill Ward and received a recorded message that the number Gene gave me was no longer a working number.
On October 15, 1996, I received a letter from Gene and a generous contribution to the CANDOER News and Memorial fund. Gene reported that he has Macular Degeneration of the eyes and has to use a magnifying glass to read and write, but this has not stopped him from being an avid golfer. He is still able to drive his car, but expects it won't be much longer until he will have to stop driving.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The paper-thin retina has two quite anatomically distinct sense receptors (nerve endings) named, for their appearance under high magnification, cones (Macula) and rods (Fovea). The cones are concentrated at a tiny spot on the retina called the Fovea. All our seeing of colors and fine details is accomplished by the cones of the fovea and the macula lutea. The tight circle of cones in each eye gives man his ability to do close, detailed work (including reading) and to discriminate colors. END OF NOTE
On Wednesday, October 2, 1996, I contacted Ray Watson's wife. Ray had a severe stroke several weeks ago. He has been in the hospital since. Mrs. Watson said that right now Ray is in a rehabilitation hospital and is doing a lot better, but he is confined to a wheel chair. He has a lot of trouble eating because he has some paralysis of the throat and is therefore being fed intravenously. I sent Ray and Mrs Watson a note and a get well card on behalf of the CANDOER Luncheon Group.
The note is quoted below:
October 2, 1996
On behalf of the CANDOER Luncheon Group, I want you to know that our prayers are with both you and Ray. If there is ANYTHING we can do to assist you, or Ray, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Briefly, because Ray may not be aware of our group, we are all retirees of the Department of State, Office of Communications (OC) who get together once a month for lunch and to enjoy each others company.
We all pray that Ray will get back on his feet soon. When he does, you are both invited to attend the luncheons. The luncheons are held on the second Tuesday of each month. On the back of this letter is a schedule and directions to the two restaurants where we meet.
On behalf of the CANDOERs
On October 7, I again talked with Mrs. Watson to see if Ray has had any progress in his recovery. She reported that Ray had a very good day on Sunday and is now trying to eat, although they will only allow him to have puree food at this time. She said he was alert and slowly getting better.
On October 15, I again talked with Mrs. Watson and she reported that Ray is now out of bed and in a wheel chair more than last week. The big concern of his doctor's is that he has lost a considerable amount of weight. She reported he is very aware of his surroundings and lucid. She said Ray called her early this morning, before she could leave for the rehabilitation hospital, and asked her to bring him several things. This is a good indication that is now very alert and on his way to recovery.
On October 23, I again talked with Mrs. Watson. She said Ray, although very weak, is now using a walker and is going to therapy. He is showing slow improvement. He is still having trouble eating but is able to take small amounts of food.
I received an e-mail from Marvin Frishman. Marv is working for ITT in New Jersey and asks that I say hello for him to the many CANDOERs he worked with.
On October 4, I received an e-mail from Alvin Bradshaw. Alvin has not retired as I stated in the CANDOER News - October 1996 - Volume 1 Number 10, page 10. Alvin is presently assigned as the technical operations officer at the RIMC in Fort Lauderdale.
On October 7, 1996 I received a nice letter from Bill Parks, in response to my letter of September 16 to retirees. Bill stated he and Ellenor have not been to the D.C. area since he retired in may of 1991. He stated that have been spending their summers in Potsdam, NY and Fall, Winter, and Spring in their lake side house in Deltona, FL. He expects to be in D.C. in November on personal business and is trying to arrange to make the trip at about the same time as our next luncheon. He states AIf so, maybe I'll be in to "Phineas."
Also on October 7, I received a long letter from Tom Murphy, again in response to my letter of September 16 to retirees. Tom stated he is keeping very busy. He ran for and was elected to the local school board. He and his wife traveled to Washington state and back recently, by car. He said they don't get to D.C. often, but they have passed through on trips to other places. He will try to schedule future trips through the area so he can make a Tuesday lunch and "reacquaint myself with some of my colleagues." He stated he would "welcome almost any OCer to lunch when in Conway."
Leroy Farris attended his first CANDOER luncheon and we hope not his last.
I talked with Wardell Jenkins for a while on October 8. Wardell is doing well. His wife will be retiring at the end of the year and they plan on doing some traveling. He has not gone back to work, but says he is enjoying just relaxing and doing things around the house.
Two additional colleagues are having a rough go of it. After learning, at the October luncheon of the illness of both Dan Fisher and Don Brown, I called their respective homes and talked with both retirees and their wives. The following information was obtained.
Dan has been in the hospital for several weeks due to pneumonia and an allergic reaction to a drug they gave him to treat the pneumonia. Dan went in for tests to determine what treatment he would receive for a disease of the muscles and nervous system he has developed, Myasthenia Gravis. While in the hospital he developed pneumonia. They gave him and antibiotic to treat the pneumonia and he had a allergic reaction to it. He spent several days in the intensive care unit. I talked to him on Saturday, October 12, after he was released from the ICU and transferred to a regular room. He was weak but cheerful.
As of the publication date of this issue, he is at home recuperating. I talked with him after he was released from the hospital (Tuesday, October 15). He is doing well and hopes to be back to work on the 4th of November.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Myasthenia Gravis is characterized by muscle weakness and an abnormal muscle fatigability; patients are abnormally weak after exercise or at the end of the day. There is no complete explanation for myasthenia gravis, but it is believed that there is some defect in the transmission of a nerve impulse to the muscles. The disease may occur spontaneously, or following an acute infection, and there appears to be a curious association with diseases where there is an immunologic abnormality, such as tumors of the thymus gland, increased or decreased activity of the thyroid gland, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Usually there is an insidious onset of generalized weakness or weakness confined to small groups of muscles. The weakness can cause one or both eyelids to droop or it may cause double vision as well as it may be seen in the trunk or the limbs. Some patients have involvement of the muscles used in speaking, chewing or swallowing.
Treatment varies. Drugs can be taken that assist in the transmission of the nerve impulse to the muscle. In most cases the medication is very effective. In some cases, surgical removal of the thymus gland (thymectomy) may be recommended. END OF NOTE.
Don Brown was diagnosed with a tumor on his lung. Last Thursday, October 3rd, he went into the hospital to have the tumor removed only to find out that the tumor was cancerous and had spread to other areas of his chest cavity. He was released from the hospital on October 10 and is now convalescing at home.
I have sent a get well card and a note to both Dan and Don in the name of the CANDOERs.
On Monday, October 14, Don called me and thanked me for the card and note. He said that tomorrow he is going to get his first chemotherapy treatment. He reported that the doctor is optimistic that they can effect a full cure but it may take several treatments. He asked that everyone pray for him. I assured Don that he would be the subject of a lot of our prayers over the coming months.
I talked to George Wilcox for a while on October 8. George is doing well. He gave me the address and telephone number for Dan Fisher. George said he has turned in his retirement papers this week and will retire on the 3rd of January, 1997. His replacement at the FBO Communications Center is on board, another retiree, Tom Couch.
I talked with Al Giovetti on the morning of October 8. Al and his wife had been in Ocean City for a few days and had just returned. Al said he is feeling great and is looking forward to attending a future luncheon.
I had a long telephone conversation with Bill Wuensch. Bill is now Chief of DO/CC (formerly OC/T). He said he would like to hear from former colleagues.
On Wednesday, October 24, I had a conversation with Ed and Barbara Carroll. Barbara is doing well, but has had a rough go of it this fall. She has severe asthma that can be brought on by molds, cigarette smoke, peoples perfume, and other everyday things. She has to be very careful where she goes and what she does or it brings on a severe asthma attack. She says as long as she is careful she feels great, but has to limit her activities, outside the home. They are going to try to make the November luncheon.
Farmers throughout Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas raised considerable wheat. Nowadays it is all harvested by a combine. The machine was relatively new in the 1930's and very few farmers could afford to scrap their old equipment and by a combine. Instead the wheat was cut with a binder which tied it into bundles. These bundles were then stacked into what was called a shock, 15 to 20 bundles in each. A week or so in the hot sun and the wheat was dry and ready to be threshed. One person in the area had a large tractor and a threshing machine; he charged a reasonable fee for the use of this equipment. 8 to 10 farmers then banded together and helped each other during the threshing process.
The wheat bundles were pitched from the shocks into a hayrack pulled by a team of horses; when loaded the hayracks were pulled up to the threshing machine, usually one on each side, where the bundles were pitchforked into the machine. The machine was in a fixed position, usually in a corner of the same field. The wheat grain came down a spout into a wagon, the straw came blowing out of a large pipe into a pile. This pile became very large. The straw was used for bedding in barns and livestock sheds, and for mulch in the family garden. The rest of it decayed and was plowed back into the soil. Livestock eat hay, not straw; even a starving critter would be reluctant to eat wheat straw.