My Social Security Experience

I have to tell you about my social security experience Thursday. I watched the clock moving past 1 p.m., the designated time Social Security was to begin my scheduled call. And nothing happened.

Waited another hour and then just decided to go to the Tulsa office.

Naturally I tried the highway (I really need to stay off of the highway) because I got lost and wasted time trying to locate the place. I just can’t figure out highways with all the wording crammed on the signs.

Can’t they just have more signs with less wording?

my desk

The Waiting Room:

So I get there and it is packed. I brought in my handbag, so they had to thoroughly search it. Then just like the airport, you have to go through the metal detector. They tell you as soon as you come in that they will search you for guns and bombs.

I found a place to sit. Naturally next to a couple with a tired crying toddler. It is just not a good place to bring young kids.

The woman behind me griped that she’d been there over four hours and this was her fourth visit. Said she hadn’t gotten her last two checks. A woman came in with a baby that I’m fairly sure wasn’t even a week old.

The Security Guard:

There was a security guard at the door. He was old and quite overweight. Don’t know how effective he would be if a problem arose.

Then there was another one, probably in his forties or fifties. You could tell he thoroughly enjoyed wearing a uniform and being the boss.

After I’d been there about twenty minutes, he said on his hidden mike: “Homeland Security dictates that anyone who causes a problem or ruckus in the Social Security office will face a penalty and it will be enforced.”

People looked at one another, somewhat baffled. Then about fifteen minutes later he got on again. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he bellowed about 6 feet from me. “The proper attire to wear to the Social Security office is pajamas and slippers.”

That was disconcerting. Immediately I wondered if perhaps he’d once been with the police department and retired due to a mental health issue. Something wasn’t quite right with him. He did not make me feel safe.

mockingbird

Forty-five Minutes Later:

I was extremely lucky. They called my number about forty-five minutes in. They have lots and lots of windows so you go walking down all these aisles searching for the right cubicle.

The lady was very nice. I asked her why I didn’t get a call and she followed up on that. She learned that they’d scheduled me to be called by the manager. And the manager doesn’t make calls.

Well great. I waited six weeks for a phone call that was never coming.

It was probably best that I went in and endured the noisy waiting room anyway. They copied my documents and I don’t have to mail them. I wanted the actual numbers before I decided to sign up for benefits.

Ivy and Charlie sleeping

My Plan:

I will continue blogging every day, just as I have been. Not retiring!

But I will cut back working on the back end with things like SEO (search engine optimization) and other things pertaining to blogging. I will talk to the ad network about cutting down on the ads.

You see you don’t just write a post and you’re done. I have to minimize my photos to reduce load time for reading. You have to set descriptions. See if readability is satisfactory before you publish (it shows me on the screen).

This is why I now add sub-headings to attain the correct readability quotient. If I don’t the screen tells me that the text between breaks is too long. If I happen to change or add a sentence, it might change the readability factor.

You have to keep working to get your post optimized for SEO. Hard to explain as it’s a complicated process. It’s not like I have to do all this. But it’s how you optimize posts for Google search engines. Otherwise they won’t find you.

And Google finding you is how you make your visibility higher and thus make money with ads.

Then I go back into older posts and try to optimize them as well.

Right now I’m working at least 4-6 hours a day, seven days a week. I will be curtailing that.

wall over my desk

Focusing More On Charlie Boy:

Charlie gets antsy about 3-4 p.m. and begins to walk across me. He can’t settle down and goes back and forth and this makes me cranky. I’m sure he is bored. I’ll spend more time with him.

There are podcasts I would like to listen to. Soon spring will be here and I will be out on the patio with my container gardens.

In other news, I had icicles inside my patio door yesterday! Surely I’ll get my new door soon.

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111 Comments

  1. So glad you got this worked out. Have kept you in my prayers that God would work things out for you. Answered prayers for sure. Now you can enjoy those fur babies even more.

  2. so glad for you. money worries really can consume our minds. longtime reader but never commented before. your writing is so wonderful to read. hope you can get resolution for your pain issues. thanks for writing about things us women need info about as we get older. I will still check and read your writings whenever you are able to post.

  3. Brenda, I’m so happy for your good news! I love checking in with you on your blog and if you need to pare back a bit for the sake of your health, I will still be a regular reader. You’ve created a wonderful space here and the ads don’t diminish my experience at all. I say keep them and save the extra income for a rainy day. Wishing you a wonderful week.

  4. The Social Security office is a dismal place. I have to go on occasion for my son so that I can take care of his issues. I’m the representative payee for him. I’m so glad you were able to get the issue resolved and have more money coming in. Less stress, less work, and time to get better! Love and hugs!

  5. Not to get political, but us “OWLS” (Older Women’s League) must be pro-active in advocating for our economic security. Often times we can’t count on our families to care for us, even after working all our lives for them. Personally, I don’t want to depend on my children or relations. Therefore, please stay vigilant in protecting Social Security and Medicare. There are efforts on-going right now by politicians to privatize it and reduce all “entitlement” benefits. Many officials have been talking about this for years. I worked 42 years before retirement and now fear that my private retirement benefit will be cut too. They’ve already reduced my health insurance. We may have to get active.

  6. I tell everyone that is thinking about retirement to go in person the SS. We went to inquire about me getting my SS early. It was then we found out that our son got benefits of SS as well. We would not have know. I’ve had friends that did not go in person and didn’t get what they thought.
    I’m glad for you. It’s a relief to not have to worry so much.
    I hope you get some relief soon on your neck pain.

  7. Brenda, that’s outstanding news. I am so happy you went over there. I know it’s not a fun place. It’s nice to know you will be comfortable in life now. If only you could get some relief for your neck and shoulders. I see a massage therapist and she helps
    Me so much with my headaches.

  8. Be careful with Social Security comments. They told me I qualified for a certain amount and later sent a letter that I cannot be sent that much. ? I hope you have a better answer.

  9. There are so many decisions to make at this age, I went on SS a year ago, and can’t wait to get Medicare soon…with the supplement I’ll finally have decent health insurance again. It was so confusing trying to figure out what to choose. Glad you got things settled…things will be much less stressful for you now!

  10. Brenda,
    I am so happy for you! I hope you can get some help with your pain. I have back issues so I know how that is. Love your blog!
    Angie

  11. Dear Brenda,
    I am a long time reader from NYC who has family in Tulsa. I am SO happy for you SS news and so deserving for you to now be relaxed and able to enjoy all that brings you joy! Maybe even later see about a very comfortable new bed to help you sleep really well. I imagine the stresses of every little worry you had to make your own way added to the pain. Now you are comfortable and looking at all the joy on the horizon you will experience less tension and pain! Now make you little sweet place even more cozy. I don’t see you moving but knowing you have the SS money it isn’t impossible. However, I know you enjoy your place so be still and breath while dining praises for your blessings! Hope you keep blogging but do cut back to maybe 5 days if you want. Make it a weekday blog a lot of people do this very thing. Enjoy my friend! 🙂

  12. I knew you would get a good size SS payment with your ex being a doctor. I had to laugh at your comment about the highways in Tulsa. We have driven thru Tulsa many times going from Colorado to Arkansas. Every time we get lost on the darn highway! Signage is terrible!
    Yes try a good cervical pillow. My chiropractor told me about them! It helps a lot!

    1. There’s just too much info on every darned sign and then I have to make a decision while I’m going nearly 70 miles an hour. I can’t choose that fast!

  13. I am so very happy for you, Brenda. The overwhelming pressure is OFF! Now perhaps you will be able to relax more, and indulge in more activities that you really want to do, and maybe choose to simply ‘be’ sometimes. Goodness me, you have been through so many trials, and triumphed. You have most certainly earned a bit of respite.
    I’m pleased to learn that you intend to continue with your blog, for me to be entirely selfish about it, but I hope it will be more of an unadulterated pleasure from now on. Many, many congratulations. You are an inspiration to me every day.
    Hugs to the fur babies.
    Corinne

    1. Well, I get pretty good income with my blog. So I’m sticking with it. I do have to make sure this year I don’t go over $17,000+ because I did last year. It’s the amount of taxes I pay that gets me. But I know everyone has to pay their share and that’s fine.

  14. Brenda, that is so wonderful that you will get enough from Social Security so you don’t have to work so hard. I’m so happy for you. Even though it was a pain in the behind I’m glad you went into the office and got it all worked out.

    And now Charlie will have more one-on-one with his Mama, too. Hope Ivy can deal! She’ll get her share of attention, I’m sure!

    Hope you can get the problem of your neck pain resolved. I can’t remember if you have scheduled another appointment with the–was it a neurologist?–the doctor who moved his office. Constant pain can really sap your energy and I’m sorry you are having to deal with it for so long. I am having constant itching–ever since I was in the hospital last Spring and on IV antibiotics for ten days. I take an antihistamine in the morning but by bedtime it has worn off and I am itching again. I can only take one tablet per 24-hrs, so I slather on some cortisone cream and try to get to sleep. If I can get to sleep then I’m okay until morning. As Gilda used to say, “It’s always something.”

    In keeping with our discussions and sharing around the topic of thrift I went to Dollar Tree today and I was just blown away by the assortment of items they have for $1.00! I mean, it is the absolute best place I’ve found to go for so many items you would pay $3.-$4. or more for at the grocery store or the hardware. Things like stick-on hooks, art supplies, greeting cards, etc. I have been shocked lately at the price of greeting cards at my grocery store and I have resolved to never buy another greeting cart anywhere but DollarTree! Just tho’t I’d share my experience there for other thrifty readers.

    Guess I’d better get off the computer and go to bed. Where did this day go??

    Take care and have a pleasant Sunday with your four-leggeds.

  15. I am so happy for you. So glad you went to the SS office and had everything settled. I also took a early retirement and did receive a portion my husbands SS when he passed. No where near what you are receiving. So glad you will not have to worry so much about money, it gets so stressful.
    Praying your neck pain will go away.

  16. I am happy for you that you feel more optimistic about your finances. Re: your SEO discussion, just about every job has its inane stuff that must be dealt with. At least you get to be home and manage your own time. The Valentine desserts you published a few days ago look fantastic, and I will definitely be making one of them.

  17. I’m so happy for you Brenda! I know what a relief that is, to have financial security. Now you can concentrate on your health, your fur babies, your patio garden and just doing more of the things that make you happy.

    Vonne

  18. Yea Brenda! I am so, SO happy for you! Life still has it’s challenges, like your pain level, but the challenges are easier to handle when you can easily pay your bills. (I speak from experience!) So YEA! And congrats on the success of your blog — I started blogging back in the dark ages of 2005, and I’ve had two blogs. (I don’t have time for them now.) Anyway, I’ve learned that it’s not easy to make money blogging. So another “YEA Brenda!” Now, you can pull back a little and still make money. Who wants to work seven days a week anyway, no matter how much one loves their job?!

    In my 30’s I had terrible neck problems, which radiated pain down both arms. The causes were different than yours, but this still might help: cervical pillows, aka contour pillows! Those and yoga really helped me manage the pain. If you haven’t tried a cervical pillow, you might want to consider it.

  19. Yay! We took ours at 62 also! You never know what tomorrow will bring and money in the hand is better than a promise of future riches.

      1. Well said Ance Mist! After a lot of debating, I also chose to take mine at 62. I never thought about it the way you put it, but that makes a lot of sense, especially since I really am a “bird in the hand” kind of person.

  20. Brenda, I’m so happy you decided to take the SS now. We did the same when we reached 62 and never regretted it. This will help provide you with more financial security as you get older. I know what all you’re saying about all the work that goes into blogging. I don’t know if you caught my blog about me cutting back, but as you know blogging today is not what it was like when we started out years ago.

    1. It is not that I have to do all these things on my blog. But who wants to do things halfway? If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do the best I can.

  21. Brenda,
    This post makes me so happy! What wonderful, wonderful news. I am thankful that everything got settled and straightened out, as well. Also appreciated the pic of Ivy on her quilt pile.

  22. I thought you would be eligible for SS , and since it would be based on his income, I figured you would be fine. I am glad you have the peace- of -mind that comes with being able to pay your bills, eat and not fret over money. Glad to hear this news.

  23. Hi Brenda, just a reminder that you might have to pay some taxes on your SS benefits. The person you talked to probably told you this. But, it is based on some different factors like other income you might also make, and I don’t feel capable of explaining it. If you go to the Social Security website it probably explains it, or, I think you use an accountant for your quarterly taxes and the accountant could advise you. Very glad you have the money arriving to help you.

  24. You being in that busy SS office reminds me of being at the driver’s license facility. All these government places are like that – and I hate being there, too. Wow, that security guard sounded like he was off his rocker! Unless he thought he was being funny to try and lighten everyone up since it’s a yucky place to be at?? Anyway, you now have good news about getting your ex’s SS. Is that $2220 per month?! If so, that’s really good. Plus your blogging income…that gives you a really good income for just one person. My poor mom is 78 years old and still has to work in an office PT for income because her limited SS isn’t enough for her to live on. And she’s very frugal. She also does things on the side to make money…makes homemade toffee and pies, and refurbishes and paints old furniture to sell. She’s amazing and very strong-willed and active and healthy…but it makes me sad that she still has to work outside the home at her age. Our country’s system is so screwed up.

  25. Oh my goodness! What a wonderful welcome addition to your monthly income! Makes one want to dance like no one is watching! I’ll bet you had a bit of pep in your step after leaving the social security office. Good for you to go into the office; usually so much easier to present the information/documents face to face. It has to be a relief not to have the stress of worrying each month about how to make the money stretch to meet basic living expenses. So happy for you! Hope you have a relaxing cozy weekend with Charlie and Ivy.

    1. I did have some pep in my step as I was going to my car. Then I stopped at my favorite Chinese restaurant because they have lunch prices till 4. So I got two night’s food for about $15. That was my celebration.

      1. Wonderful Brenda! Glad you got to stop at your favorite Chinese restaurant. A guilt free treat so well deserved. So glad for you.

  26. Such good news for you! So glad you went into the office and got it straightened out right away. Perhaps with this financial stress behind you your neck will begin to relax and the pain subside a bit. Hoping so.

  27. I was having terrible pain problems from my neck all of the way down my arm to my wrists, sometimes it just went down to my arms as far as my arm in the area where they put in flu shots. It was very debilitating. I finally went to a pain management doctor. They did a ct scan on me and i have degenerative disc disease in my neck right in the area where the neck attaches to the shoulders.

    I don’t know if this info might be something that helps you are not. I didn’t know there was such a thing as trigger point injections until I started going to a Pain Management doctor. They treat me with what they call trigger point injections. Those are small steroid injections in the various points in my neck, shoulders, shoulder blades where the nerves are being pinched. They put a small injection of steroid into each nerve area. They poke and prod around in certain areas where they usually find the painful areas. I can tell when they find them, it feels like they have really poked me there and kind of hurts. It usually ends up being 4 or 5 very small injections and they really help me for many months at a time. My pain management doctor has had special training in this. Pain Management doctors who have this training are excellent and the trigger point injections work great for me.

  28. I am still laughing out loud all by myself thinking about the so called security guard telling everyone that the appropriate attire was slippers and pajamas. What? Was that for real? It is a wonder that the room full of people didn’t break out chuckling. Did they let that person carry a gun? Tell me no. Please tell me no.

    Again, so happy for you, Brenda.

  29. I’m glad to hear you will receive your S.S. now. Peace of mind and being able to relax a bit is always good medicine. Magnesium helps me with my stenosis and vertebrae in my neck that gives me pain also Tumeric 500 mg., I take one daily at bedtime.

  30. I had no idea one could make so much money from the blogs! But I also really hate all the ads and don’t have the patience you have to set it all up correctly. Kudos to you for doing a great job for all this time! And glad you’ll get respite from the money worries. Amen.

  31. Have you thought about looking into voice activation for your typing. That will help with your pain. Just a thought.

  32. I’m so happy for you Brenda. Financial worrying can exhaust and depress oneself. Take a rest this weekend and give Charley a little more TLC.

    Carol and Molly
    xoxoxo

  33. Congratulations on resolution of your social security. I also took mine as soon as I was eligible. Why wait? If you aren’t spending it all, what a great little nest egg you can build up. Good for you. You deserve it.

  34. Brenda, what wonderful, wonderful news. God is good…My husband took early retirement at 62, because after 42 years at the same job, he was tired .He received less than he would have at 65, his idea was, a person doesn’t know how long you will live after retirement, (a few good friends of his were not so lucky) and he wanted time to enjoy hunting and fishing, and hanging out with the kids and grand-kids. Tomorrow is his birthday (76) and we are happy that we still are both “well” and can enjoy our time together..which is going to be 55 years, this May (old folks). I am so happy that you no longer have to worry about where your next $$ is coming from. What a great stress relief!!!! Congratulations for taking the leap…You WILL NOT regret it..Hugs from cold, white, sunny WI.

  35. Hubby had to retire early to try to slow down his worsening health (our doc told us whatever problem you have, stress makes WORSE…so that was an easy choice for us). And had he not quit working then, I have no idea what might have happened as his health is plummeting even so. We are ok. We will never be rich…but that is ok too. SO GLAD you were able to resolve the problem Brenda…it figures that they would in essence lie to you (like making up some ficticious person who would call…well, again tis just the same if that person never makes those calls anyway). Nasty games people play. Who knows…their bonus pay may be based upon doing such things.
    SO glad some of the money has already come in…that is hopeful for the future!! Do what is best for you physically too…ads or not…I will keep reading!!
    AND icicles on inside of door?? THAT is not ok. I would think it could get them into some troubles with the authorities for such…

  36. Wow, this was an important post! RED LETTER DAY!!!!
    I’m very happy for you, this will change your financial life considerably. We are selfish and don’t want you to neglect us in any way, but we have to be happy for your good fortune. And we are very pleased about this good news! Because we love you.

  37. Glad the social security information has resolved your financial worries and less hours on the computer may help with your joint pain. You will actually have time” to stop and smell the roses this summer.” Often we worry, I am guilty also, and then we find there is a blessing waiting and our concern was in vain. Enjoy your cozy, sweet home with Charlie and Ivy and breathe in your sigh of relief! You work hard, live above many circumsances, and continually amaze all of us with your advice,decorating skills, frugality, and acceptance of all people and call us your friends!

  38. Brenda, I’m glad you took early SS. It was really a lifeline being given to you. I took it at 62 and don’t regret it. It helped us make it through those years. You cannot put a price on peace of mind. Now take a deep breath. One problem solved!

  39. I’m glad you took the SS money now! Financial advisers often say to wait for full benefits. I calculated that it would take 10 years at full benefits to catch up to the total I banked in 8 years at the reduced (age 62) amount. In my case, hubby was still working for most of those years. Should he pass away before I do, I’ll get his higher amount, having not waived my own benefits. Should I pass before he does, he’ll have had the benefit of my years of collecting and saving. My point here is that waiting for full benefits is not always the best outcome, proven now by both you and me.
    The behavior of that security guard is bizarre, to say the least. Not advocating getting him fired because he may have mental health problems, but still…..And they consider the poor souls held hostage for hours in the waiting room to be a “threat?” Wow.
    And I don’t think you should cut back on ads! They are not intrusive. Get all the income you can. If you don’t need it all, save it for a rainy day!

    1. I have to cut back because I’m now making over the amount Social Security allows. Only when you get to the full benefit age, which for me is 66 and a half, can you make as much as you want without being penalized. They told me if I make over the amount, they will take it out of my benefits.

      1. I have to admit I’ve gotten quite a few chuckles due to that security guard in the past few days! Just thinking about him saying those things and picturing him looking so earnest and serious about it.

  40. That’s wonderful news! I’m glad you went directly into the office and didn’t hesitate. Hopefully, life will be a little easier for you – less stress and worry.

  41. That is great news about the Social Security. I am glad you will be able to kick back a bit and cut down on the work load and spend more time enjoying smelling “the roses” with Charlie and Ivy. Do you think you can figure out a way for Ivy to be able to be outside but safe with no way to escape? Is is really so awful to put a cat on a leash?

  42. I am so happy for you! Do you realize it would take many years to make up for having not taken those 54 months of benefits? In the meantime your peace of mind is priceless.

  43. Brenda, I hesitate to give this advice because nothing is worse than armchair doctors. But you might find some relief if you take magnesium. A very high quality magnesium. Dr. Carolyn Dean has a ton of material on the web (and a book) you may be interested in researching. Magnesium may calm the nerves and the muscles that are causing you such pain. It also helps with anxiety. I know that epsom salt baths (transdermal magnesium) Natural Calm (a powder you put in water) and a magnesium capsule have made all the difference for me. You may also find help with a reputable chiropractor. That’s my two cents. I just hate to see you suffer, but please feel free to disregard any and all of the above.

    1. I have tried chiropractors. I have tried acupuncture. I have had the neck injection. The problem is that the vertebral column is so restricted that the nerves are pinched. Been this way for 13 months now. I see my internist Feb. 19 so I’ll ask her about the magnesium.

      1. I think backing off on so many hours on the computer will help your pain. I have the same issue. What has helped me tremendously is basically a traction device that hangs over the back of a door. It is relatively inexpensive and it moves your head in such a way that it takes the pressure off the “vertebrae crunch.” Just a half hour of that pressure being removed helps so much. As everyone else has mentioned, I am so thrilled re your social security. This is because of your late ex husband and God knows you paid for every dollar will now get. Also, I wonder if the security guard was saying that pj’s and slippers were NOT the appropriate garb for the office. That probably makes more sense. I am truly amazed by the number of people in actual pj’s (not leisure wear) in public. Anne who usually emails.

    2. I take magnesium daily. I started it for migraines and it really helped. Hardly ever get a migraine or headache these days. It can’t hurt to try it.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I never thought I’d be able to say that the future money wise looks kind of rosy now! I’m pretty frugal, so I don’t blow what money I have.

  44. Hi Brenda. I’m glad you’ve resolved the social security issue. It’s good to start now rather than wait since it will relieve so much stress. Even if the monthly amount is smaller now, you will be getting it over a longer time period so it evens out in the end. I’m glad the tax issue can be resolved too.

    1. You never know what will happen in the future. You could get run over crossing the street. So waiting might not be the thing to do. It’s like someone was looking out for me. Taking care of that and the taxes.

  45. Such great news! I kinda thought you would be okay with getting your ex’s SS. I think it was good too to go right to the office. In my dealings with the workers they have always been very nice. I am glad you braved the driving, crying kids, and daft security officers to get this done!

  46. I am so happy that you took this step. I also took early retirement and although I don’t get nearly as much money as you do, I have never been sorry. I am sure this takes a huge load off your mind.

    As for your neck and shoulder pain, I know all about it. I spend way too much time on the computer myself and I do not blog. My neck and shoulder is always in pain as well. I really need to step back and use my time differently.

  47. That was a very good idea for you to actually go to the office and speak to someone in person. I am sure that a great weight has been lifted off of your shoulders and you can breathe a little easier.

      1. Good for you. I applied and can take home a whopping 646.00 a month. And Ive worked since I was 16. And when Medicare kicks in it will be much less. Yikes

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