Older People and Work


Do older people work to survive or because they want to stay in the game?

I believe the answer is YES to both. In our society we segment people often without giving it much thought. There are older people in the Congress, even in the White House just moments away from the most powerful seat in the free world.

We look at individuals in seats of power differently because of their status. But the answer to the question is just as true for positions of power as it is for an older person working at the Walmart.

Whether you are rich, currently without adequate financial resources, or somewhere in between, older people work either to survive or because they want to stay in the game. A few things to consider about older people who work to survive.

Medicare is a program for persons who have reached the age of 65 or older and for persons of any age with certain medical conditions and or disabilities, e.g., end stage renal failure. However, every person who reaches the age of 65 does not necessarily qualify for Medicare. Emphasis is placed on age not being the only determining factor to qualify for Medicare – an assumption many people are suprised to learn is not true.

You or your spouse will only qualify if you have worked under a Medicare covered employment, earning 40 Social Security credits or Medicare equivalents normally acquired after working ten years. If you don’t qualify for Medicare, you may qualify for state-sponsored Medicaid programs based on your income.

The irony and a sad commentary is that many people work for years and years on jobs that offer no retirement or pension. In addition, they may not even qualify for Social Security benefits because they have not paid into the system, but were paid in cash.

If you know someone who works and gets paid in cash, ask if they have plans for retirement and how do they intend to survive when they are no longer able to work. Am I My Brother’s keeper? We should be because what affects your brother affects you whether you know it or not.

If you see or hear of high crime and poorly funded schools, homelessness, high unemployment or any other social-ills, form a coalition to at least talk about it and perhaps do something about it. If these issues don’t exist on your side of town – they exist in the larger economy which impacts all of us either directly or indirectly.

The cost of services and goods increase in areas where crime is high because there is a greater security or insurance risk. Taxes and higher costs to deliver a service is eventually passed on to us whether we like or not. For example, in the city where I live, close to the nation’s capital, I never saw homeless people. I used to say – “We don’t have homeless people in my city – until one day I saw a makeshift shelter beneath an underpath. There it was, homelessness had taken a ride across the bridge into my city.

How many of us look at a problem and say it’s not mine. I did until it smacked me in the face and summoned my senses to understand that all humanity is intricately and perpetually linked. So when the question comes up again – Do Older People Work to Survive or to Stay in the Game? Ask another question – Can I pass along anything that might help somebody survive a little easier.

The people in so-called high places whose retirement futures are secure surely work to stay in the game and survive in the way they have become accustomed to. Others work to keep from slipping off the cliff. As federal workers we might be privy to many services that can help our communities that the average citizen might have absolutely no knowledge of. Passing on knowledge should be a border without walls – help where you can, it makes the world we live in better for all of us. Using knowledge to retire well is a benefit of enormous proportions.

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