Another Day, Another SS/Medicare Threat
INTERESTING STUFF - 9 February 2013

Open Thread – 8 February 2013

This, today, is an attempt at something new, a test post to see if it works for times when I need to be away from the blog but instead of leaving a blank page, want to give readers something to chat about - maybe we could think of as it a one-day forum.

Other blogs, particularly some big-time political ones, regularly use open threads over holidays or weekends so let's see how it works for Time Goes By today.

Here's one topic suggestion to consider: TGB reader Joan left this comment a couple of days ago:

“Sorry, this doesn't have to do with today's posting from Ronni. Last night my brother phoned with the news that he's being laid off. He's 58. At any age this is devastating but the people here know just how tragic the event is at this time in a person's life.”

We sure do know. It happened to me (although I was lucky enough to get four years more than Joan's brother before the workforce executioners decided my time was up).

And I know there are plenty of you who have been there, done that and know how awful it is. And who might have something to say about it.

Or not. The comment thread is yours today as long as it relates generally to age and aging.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: Name Calling


I've found it interesting to watch my husband, who was laid off for 14 months, find a new job and make it work for him. Especially interesting is the way many of his past jobs dovetail into this new job.

Many years ago, at a time when there were no jobs available, he became at tow truck driver on commission. Later he started at a car rental agency and became a manager. Lastly, he learned software and auditing functions at a automotive software company.

In an industry that prefers to hire the young at a low hourly wage, it's hard for someone in their late 50's to find their niche. He now has a job that needs the knowledge of all his previous positions. Who knew it existed.

That's serendipity in it's highest form, Mage! And we applaud him because finding that position must have taken some hard thinking and effort.

This is a hard and discouraging road to have to take, and memory of not being able to find a job for 3 mos at 49, and being asked point blank if I thought I was capable of learning 'new ways of doing things' by a 22 year old, reminded me that age discrimination is alive and well, and a rotten thing for older workers to overcome.

Depending on what region of the country Joan's brother is in will determine how quickly he gets re-employed.

Here in Texas the economy is doing good overall but a lot of the jobs are not on the high end wage scale. I also don't recommend the political climate here either if you have to choose between two jobs where everything else is equal, unless of course you likes his politics right of Atilla the Hun

There are web sites that cater to those over 50 who lose their jobs like this one at SeniorJobBank He might want to start there.

I joined the workforce for the second go 'round at age 62.
Not for the weak of heart, but it can be done. I worked 11 more years at that point. You do what you have to do.

I volunteer at our local library helping people over 50 learn to use computers and other electronic devices. Many of our clients have worked at low-wage jobs in the service sector. Now, in most cases, one must apply for such jobs online. Many laid off workers have not been able to afford computers and do not even use email. To make it worse, our governor has closed most of the state unemployment offices and replaced them with computer kiosks.

Luckily, our libraries have many free computers available, and we teach folks how to get online, use a mouse, fill out employment forms and obtain a free email account. This takes a lot of time and determination, especially if one has limited abilities or a language issue. It amazes me how hard people try to learn new skills, but many are desperate.

I commend the writer above for her willingness to help others. I was so much easier for me when I was "laid off, or fired."

Re getting laid off or fired when one is older....I live in Germany and was working for the US Army, but as a German emplpoyee, not GS. When the Army left I was not yet 65, and wondered what in the world we would do. My husband had been taken to Russia as a kid and sent to a Gulag...he never finished any schooling,so his jobs were definitely nothigh paying, mine was pretty good though, What the German system did for me tho and all those employed as Germans, was to put all the people over I think 55,a sort of partial pay and unemployment insurance, I somehow ended up with almost the exact same income till I reached age 65...then I got my pension, into which I had to pay. Americans who worked as German who were married to military did not have to pay into a pension fund. I was really hurt tho to find that my SS from the states, has a 40 % deduction because I get the German pension...The law was almost every year, that if you paid into 2, you got your two pension...My senator told me they should not have taken 40% of my American pension, because the original amount wa only 550$. He suggested that they take 0$ from anyone with less than the average SS, or 1000$ I was a married mother and had attended school to get an MA after the divorce.Therefor even though I had the required number of quarters paid in, it was not a lot of money. WHAT REALLY astounded me tho, was that the US gives my husband, who never worked in the US a pension, that is about 75% of the amount that I receive???

Since Ronni gave us an open thread, I'm going to take advantage of it pass along a recommendation: Jane Gross has written a terrific article about long term care insurance, full of information for anyone who can afford it, especially relevant to older women.

Meanwhile I'm sitting back blogging the "epic New England storm" over at my site. Nothing else to do as we're hunkered down inside, hoping it doesn't get too bad.

Towards the end of my husbands working years more and more of his benefits were taken from him. He was feeling forced upon to carry on because of the feeling of like it or leave. His company stopped giving him health insurance for his wife and I had to search out coverage in my early sixties. Let me tell you it wasn't easy. My husband began to look elsewhere for health insurance he was refused any for himself and I got a policy that covered catostrophic health issues only. I don't know what the situation is with the fellow in question, but I feel for him. If I were going to advise a working person these day it would be to have a backup plan ahead of time. Computer skills are essential, and some sideline you can fall back on.

I saw my work demise coming in many forms for 4 years. Being over 55 and looking for employment has been an interesting and mainly demoralizing experience. The trick is not to let it shatter my ego or leave my self-esteem in ruins.

I have applied for all kinds of jobs that I knew I was more than qualified for, had great interviews, only to be told that they had gone with another candidate. I have to work hard at not being bitter about watching lesser candidates get the job. The edge they have, they are younger and cuter? Of course, this is not always the case but it certainly is starting to feel like my age is playing a major role in my job search.

In my struggle to survive and weather this storm, I am learning to bend and stretch myself as much as possible.

Here are few of my stretching exercises:
I have taken this opportunity to learn new technology and tools. I spend a lot of time building my own websites and helping people/friends refine theirs. I notice there are many of us learning, redefining ourselves in areas where we might have been written off as too old to be a participant. I take classes and I built my portfolio site all by myself, several times.

I also have taken up my fine art interest again. I create fun folk art sculptures that make me happy in moments of despair. I have had a little success in selling them in local stores and I’m still learning the business of “selling myself.” I’ve been spending many hours in my garage, with power tools, learning again.

I started a sand collection, a hobby I have thought about for years but never pursued. It doesn't cost a lot of money and is tons of fun. Friends send me sand from all over the world.

I have taken on odd jobs that I would never have considered in the past. I was a photographer’s assistant, on the road for a month, driving 9,000 miles and hauling photography equipment for shoots. I enjoyed beautiful new scenery, met great folks and got a new perspective about life outside my own safe environment. A little about my adventure -

I started doing social media and helping my friends with their blogs.

To expand and pull myself out of the funk of feeling “not good enough,” I started writing for EdmondsPatch. It put me out there and made me face my fear of writing. I keep it fun, light and simple but it always scares me to think someone will be reading my little view of the world. (I always have my husband give it a once-over to make sure I haven’t made too big of a fool of myself).

I still blog but not as much since I am *far* busier being unemployed than I was as a full-time employee. Job searching is a full-time job.

Next on my list, I want to finish a couple of quilts I started many years ago.

In my present situation, I sometimes get distraught about no longer having the career I worked hard on for so many years. I have also learned a lot about myself. I have expanded, in many ways. I am not defeated, only more determined.

I remember my Dad saying that in the future the lucky people would be those who owned a couple of acres and a milk cow. Well this is that future.

These days, job searching is the hardest and most depressing job one will ever have, particularly if you are "old" (parameters subjective).

Anyone with a college degree can find a job teaching English in Asia. If you have an advanced degree, you can get a job in a college. The first year is the hardest, learning how to get along in a different culture, but a number of my friends have been in South Korea for many years. Check this site for more info on Korea.
There are also teaching jobs in the Arab Emirates (relatively safe locales). I wouldn't recommend Saudi Arabia.

Hi. I'm Joan's brother. Thanks for all the kind and supportive thoughts and energy.

Yes, it was a big blow. Five days now and I still have that constant near-vomiting feeling. I'm sure it will go away. Hard to eat much. (Hey, I've started losing those lbs I've been wanting to!)

I'm lucky in the respect that I have eight months severance and am eligible for subsidized retiree medical insurance. So, that's nice. Still 7 years till Medicare kicks in.

Although the company allows me to post for other internal openings, I haven't found one that is interesting. And I'm not sure I want to work there anymore anyway. I'll just have to take my chances. I'm determined to come out of this better than I was before. I've been in tech for years and I've already seen that there's a lot of tech jobs out there. Just finding the right one...

I'm also lucky that I was smart enough (luck?) to stow away a decent percentage in 401(k)s over the years and have a cushion. (Thanks, Patricia, for your concern.) But it's not as big a cushion as I'd wished, of course, I guess it never is.

While I can't say I never thought this would happen, I didn't take those back-of-the-brain thoughts to heart to actually plan for it. I guess no action was more wishful thinking that my road was clear ahead. That being said, those of you who do have time to plan, take Patricia's advice and prepare!

We live in a society where people talk in terms of jobs and careers, yet for those of us over 50 getting hired is tougher than ever.

Re-think. It's a matter of pulling together new and different revenue streams.

It may not feed your ego, but it will keep you going. I know people who have lawn mowing and plowing services, hire themselves out to provide rides to hospital and doctor appointments, do handyman work at churches and country clubs...keep thinking about what you can do that others will value.

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