To Pay or NOT to Pay… a $2,000+ Deposit Which Would Be Wasted if I Die Before 2017.
Posted Dec 31 2010 2:08pm
The only decision left for me to make in this retirement drama… to pay or NOT to pay.
If I choose NOT to pay, it affects nothing. Not yet. If I choose TO pay, it affects nothing. Not yet. My retirement pension will be the same no matter WHAT I decide.
Until January 4, 2017.
On the day I turn 62, the government will refigure my pension. This strikes me as unpatriotic, but I get NO CREDIT for the 8 years, 8 months and 24 days I spent in the Navy when they figure my retirement pension unless I pay a deposit of 3% of all the base salary the Navy paid me during my years in the service.
This is just me, venting, but I think if you’re a Federal Employee, ALL your service to the government should be credited, both civilian and military. And it used to be that way, until EISENHOWER (that radical Republican) signed a bill that changed that in 1957. Now, if you want your service to count, you pay the deposit.
First of all, I have no idea how much I actually made in base pay for the years 1973-1977 and 1981-1985. I have my yearly Social Security statement, which tells me I was actually paid a certain amount during those years, but my HR department has given me a form to mail to the Military to tell me EXACTLY what I was paid.
By my estimates, I’m figuring that deposit will be somewhere around $2,100 and it has to be paid BEFORE I can retire.
But here’s why it’s important.
IF I somehow survive to age 62 and DON’T pay the deposit, my yearly annuity from the Federal Government (not including Social Security) will be about $9,000 less than it would be if I DO pay the deposit.
Now this might look like an easy decision on the face of it. Pay something like $2,000 over the next few months to get that extra $9,000 seven years from now.
But then, I consider the following factors. For one, we children of John and Marilynn Schmalfeldt have not proven, as yet, to be a long-lived bunch.
A. I am already the oldest male in my immediate family. My dad and older brother died when they were 54. My twin brother died when he was 49.
B. If I make it to the end of 2012, I will be the longest-lived sibling of my mother’s brood. My older sister died when she was 57 years, 8 months and 17 days old. I will hit that mark on Sept. 12, 2012.
Then, I have to consider how much my health and mobility have declined from my last TWO years with Parkinson’s. I can only imagine how much worse things will be in SEVEN years.
But nobody gets a crystal ball. My mom is 80, but in failing health. My dad, as I said, died when he was 54. My mother’s parents, her mom died when she was 83 and her father died when he was 94. My father’s parents, his dad died when he was 65, his mother died when she was 96. One of my two uncles is still alive he’s 82. The other died in 2009 in his early 70s.
Now, I could roll the dice and pay the $2,100. And it would make no difference in anything until 2017. Then, it would mean an extra $9,000 a year for the rest of my life after age 62. But what will my life be LIKE when I’m 62? IF I make 62… Might I have better use for that $2,100 NOW rather than putting it on the wheel and hoping I beat the odds, family-wise and Parkinson’s-wise, and live well into my 60s or 70s?
Then, I have to look at the scholarly evidence on the subject of Parkinson’s and longevity.
There is evidence that those of us who were diagnosed at an earlier age tend to have a longer course of the disease. Well, that only makes sense, I guess. If you’re diagnosed at age 45 like I was, chances are you’re going to live with the disease longer than someone who is diagnosed at age 70.
There’s also evidence that those of us with Postural Instability-Gait Disturbance (PIGD)-dominant PD have a rougher go than those with Tremor-dominant PD. From the 4th Edition of the Handbook of Parkinson’s Disease (p.74),
One subtype was characterized by a prominent tremor, an early age at onset, and a greater familial tendency. Another subtype was dominated by postural instability and gait difficulty (PIGD) and was associated with a greater degree of dementia, bradykinesia, functional disability, and a less favorable long-term prognosis.
The PIGD group had greater occupational disability and more intellectual impairment, depression, lack of motivation, and impairment in activities of daily living than a corresponding group of patients with tremor-dominant PD (15). The investigators concluded that patients with older age of onset and a presentation with PIGD and with bradykinesia are more likely to have a more aggressive course than those with early symptoms dominated by tremor.
Individuals diagnosed have more than a twofold increase in mortality rate over peers in similar age groups. The disease has a mean duration until death of 9.1 years.
But the same website says the mean age of onset is 65, so that would mean the average PD death occurs at 74. Not far off the national average.
So, like I said… nobody gets a crystal ball. And they might find a cure for this thing tomorrow.
(Pause for laughter…)
But the odds don’t look good. Not for long-term survival, anyway. I have a Tinetti gait score of 4 (out of 12), a Tinetti balance score of 5 (out of 16), I’m a PIGD-dominant Parky and I’m showing the signs of oncoming dementia.
Would you bet $2,100 on that kind of outlook?
I am nothing if not a pragmatist. I am not defeatist or fatalistic. I am a realist. I believe in numbers. I believe in medical science and facts. And none of this means I am going to do anything to hasten my demise. In fact, I actually LOOK FORWARD to being a long-term annoyance not for Gail (because I love her), but for the shoppers in the stores that have to watch out for me as I toddle along behind my walker, for the “always in a hurry” assholes who get ANGRY at the old man in their way. I could take the “Tiny Tim” approach to this no, not by “tiptoeing through the tulips,” but by being glad ” the people saw me in the mall, because I was handicapped, and it might be pleasant to them to remember during their Christmas shopping who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.” Nope. Fuck ‘em! And if they have to witness a little bit of drool on my chin, like I said…
Fuck ‘em. I want to live a good, long time.
And by that, I mean a GOOD long time, not as a joyless, demented, be-diapered pain for my family, but as an eccentric, jolly, slightly daffy old guy who needs help getting his shirts buttoned and who needs an arm to lean on when walking.
But all that being said… do I think I’ll make it to 62?
Gonna dwell on that for awhile. I don’t have to make the decision just yet.