Friday, September 23, 2016

Mortality Check

There is something very humbling about going to the Social Security office. In our attempt to find the  best financial plan for our future, we made an appointment with a Social Security professional at the Des Moines office. We arrived 30 minutes early to see a line of about 20 people waiting for the door to open at 9 a.m. John and I looked at each other quizzically as we found a place to park - away from the 15-20 handicapped parking spots.

We watched as the line of mostly gray-haired people filed inside the strip-mall-style building and were methodically dispersed throughout the building. We entered the building with our file of papers and were immediately greeted by a very large officer behind a counter. He asked if we were carrying any weapons - guns or knives - then he asked to search my purse. I complied of course and fortunately I had left behind my scissors, aerosol sprays and other wound-causing items. We were directed to a vacant kiosk where we entered our information and were issued a ticket, #958 and told to take a seat among those already waiting.

At one side of the rather large room full of airport style seats there was a row of six windows with the numbers 1-6 overhead. People were seated in front of the windows talking to a worker on the other side of the window. There was a small opening near the desk top where papers could be passed through to the personnel. Our number was called and we were instructed to go to desk 21. We went around a corner and found a long hallway with sets of windows and chairs on each side, most of them already occupied.  We found our number and were greeted by a very pleasant young woman. The hallway echoed with the conversations that were going on behind and beside us. We leaned toward  the window and listened closely to hear as she assisted us with our questions and provided the benefits estimates for several possible retirement scenarios. When we understood everything adequately, we thanked her for her help and left.

After all the talk about retirement age, filing for benefits, restricted spousal benefits, and widow benefits, it certainly made us feel our age. (That and the fact that we had spent the last several evenings planting trees and landscaping our yard; we were aching all over!) The reality is that we are nearing the end of our lives. That reality gives us a different perspective on life and what needs to be most important.

"They (the righteous) will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, "The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him," (Psalm 92:14-15 NIV).

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