"In a few months you will be sixty five."
I can't hide my age from the government.
"In a few months you will be eligible for Medicare."
The whole postal world knows that I am sixty five.
I few years ago I started on the Retired Persons Special program at the University of Michigan at the Dearborn Campus. I take classes on campus. Some are at the College of Arts and Science building and others are at the Social Science, or Administration building. I do not take on line classes.
"Can I help you?" asked the clerk at the University of Michigan Credit Union at University Center.
"Yes," I said. "I want to open an account".
"What is your name?"
"Darrell Stasik," I said.
"What name do you want to use for your account?"
"What is your social security number?"
I gave her my number. Then I put my name and address into the computer (http://www.umcu.org) to get the checks. I did not capitalize the name, and my checks show the same lack of capitalization.
A few years later, I went to the Social Security Building in Wyandotte (http://www.socialsecurity.gov). I waited for my appointment with the administrator. I did not have a long wait, because I came late in the afternoon. I had just come back from a Mackinac meeting in Lansing (http://www.mcpp.org). The Mackinac group is a think tank, which tries to reduce the size of government (I discussed this organization in one of my previous papers on global warming).
The social security offices in the Administration Building on Biddle Street were comfortable, but plain, as you would expect for a government office.
"What is your name?"
"What is your social security number?" she asked.
I gave her my social security number.
"You didn't work the last few years".
"You have no earnings those years."
"I am on the Retired Persons Special Program," I said. "I am in school and can not work to be on the program."
"Were you in the military?"
“I was in the Army Corps of Engineers.”
"You may qualify for a special income supplement. It is not large, but it is something. You have to apply to the Veterans administration. Here is the contact."
"Thank you. I will apply for a certificate."
"I will wait until you have all the information before I process your form."
"Ok, Thank you."
I made a telephone call to the Veterans Hospital in Detroit. I got the information that I had to contact another office, because I was in the military so long ago. I asked for a form from the St. Louis, Missouri Veterans office to show that I was a Veteran. I filled out the form and applied for the certificate and mailed it in.
I got as letter in the mail confirming the amount of the check. I used the UMCU account for my social security check to be deposited electronically. The check is in the account early in the morning once a month.
I signed up for social security when I was sixty four. Now I am ready for the medical part of social security called Medicare, because I am sixty five. A monthly amount is automatically deducted from my social security check for Medicare, before the remainder of the check is electronically deposited in my UMCU account.
The screen for logging on to the electronic account (umcu.org) has been changed, and security precautions have been added, but my account number has remained the same. I transfer the money from my saving to my checking to pay for dental, drugs and medical supplement insurance to co-pay for my medical expenses. I have not needed to use the plastic medical insurance cards for medical attention. I hope I do not have to test the medical insurance system for a long while.
I do not have to contact people for financial transactions, except to get cash for the coffee machine or to buy Microsoft Office software. Then I go to the Credit Union Office at Dearborn. I go to the end of the hall at the University Center Building, give my account number to a person behind the counter and sign the electronic device and get cash.
My wife has an account at the Dearborn Federal Credit Union. She uses a new facility built where the old Forge Restaurant use to be located. The new building is impressive, with big pillars in front. The branch manager would like me to open an account there.
"We would be happy to have you as a member," she said. "You can change your account from the UMCU and open an account here. If you need to cash a warrant from the State of Michigan, we would do it for you right here. We would like to have both you and your wife here."
If I opened an account with her, I would not have to drive to my branch office on campus. If my car broke down, and needed a new alternator, I could walk to the branch office, cash the warrant and get cash. If my car broke down, however, I would miss class, because UM Dearborn (http://www.umd.umich.edu) is a commuting university and a car is needed to attend classes. A senior on a fixed income has to be careful with his finances. Attending the Retired Persons Special Program may not always be a practical option, because of unexpected expenses. Whatever financial operation works now, is a good plan to keep. Why change?
Darrell Stasik 6/11/2008