What Happens To Social Security Owed To Folks Who Die Young?

Retirement is good. I haven’t felt like going to work a single day this week. I’m thankful that I don’t have to. Been there, done that. Enough!

When I say, hear, or read the words “Social Security” or “Medicare,” my reaction is:

“Thanks to God and the Democratic Party.”

Some say Social Security benefits need to be reduced because people are living longer.


We’ve always had old folks — eighty years, ninety, one hundred, and even higher. Nothing new under the sun. But are more folks living to advanced ages than ever before? Probably, because the population is larger than ever. But just because nearly everyone knows someone very old, that doesn’t mean that everyone is living deep into old age.

“Are people living much longer in retirement? Or is the truth, now and always, that a few people with good genes and good luck make it to old age?” — From “Me And The Blog”

I personally have known more people in the Boomer generation who died at 60, 62, or 66, to pick a few numbers. Boomers are dying in their forties and fifties. All the folks who die young paid into Social Security every week since they began working. They’re never going to collect a penny. Those who die in their sixties draw benefits only briefly. Who gets the money?

Who gets the uncollected old-age benefits of the masses of people who die young? Seems to me that more Baby Boomers are dying in the fourth, fifth and sixth decades of life, than will make it to the eighth and ninth decades.

Seems to me that the many who die young balance out the few who grow old. I’ll leave it to an enterprising young auditor who understands actuarial data to figure it out.

— John Hayden

AARP Online Retirement Livability Index

A new AARP Livability Index can tell you how your city or town (or the place you’re thinking about relocating) ranks as a place to live and grow older. The Livability Index, which can rate practically any neighborhood in the U.S., goes live this week, according to The Washington Post and a host of other mainstream media outlets. You can find it at aarp.org/livabilityindex. (Interestingly, many MSM sources fail to give the url for the new AARP tool.)

AARP describes the new resource as follows:

“The Livability Index is a signature initiative of the Public Policy Institute to measure the quality of life in American communities across multiple dimensions: housing, transportation, neighborhood characteristics, environment, health, opportunity, and civic and social engagement.

An interactive, easily navigated website, the Livability Index allows users to compare communities, adjust scores based on personal preferences and learn how to take action to make their own communities move livable.”

I entered my Maryland zip code into the system and found out in about half a second that my Gaithersburg neighborhood rates 59 on a scale of zero to 100. I also received specific ratings on the following livability measures:

  • Housing (affordability and access)
  • Transportation (safe and convenient options)
  • Environment (clean air and water)
  • Health (prevention, access and quality)
  • Engagement (civic and social involvement)
  • Opportunity (inclusion and possibilities)

Housing in my neighborhood rates a measly 36. Not a surprise to me. I already know that generally speaking, you can’t buy or rent a home in Montgomery County, MD, unless you’re affluent. You need two middle-class incomes or one high income to support a family here. (That’s why I’m researching communities in Florida. The cost of living in many parts of Florida is quite reasonable, compared to the Maryland suburbs. Needless to say, the AARP Livability Index will be a great help in my search.)

On the positive side, my neighborhood rates high in Health (79), and gets pretty good scores of 64 on both Neighborhood and Engagement. (I’m doubtful about the high rating for Engagement. If AARP considered voter turnout in the last election, we would rank much lower.)

Transportation rates 56. Even if you own a car, that’s an optimistic number. The Washington, D.C. area is notorious for rush hour traffic. If you depend on public transportation, I dunno. My part of Montgomery County is past the end of the line for the Metro subway. And Metro overall? I don’t have to ride the subway every day, and I’m glad I don’t. MARC commuter trains are good if both your home and workplace are near a rail station.

The transportation score could go up or way down in the future, depending on whether our leaders and voters are willing to fund plans for the Purple Line in the southern parts of Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties, and Bus Rapid Transit in northern Montgomery.

Take a look at the AARP Livability Index. How does your hometown rate? Are your civic leaders going to be bragging, or running for cover?

— John Hayden


I stumbled upon this post, “Meanwhile” serendipitously via Michelle at “The Green Study.”    Thanks to Michelle and also to Wyrd Smythe for putting into words the thoughts I’ve been repressing. Maybe bloggers of a certain maturity are all channeling the same frustrations.

It feels like cheating, but since I can’t force myself to write a worthwhile post of my own this week, at least I can repost a really good post by someone else.

(Regarding our shared perception of few readers and still fewer commenters, the WordPress blogger “Time Thief” has some insight — over at “One Cool Site”  — on the possibility that people are seeing our stuff on the WordPress Reader, so they no longer have to visit our actual blogs.) Thanks to Michelle and Wyrd Smythe for helping me understand the “loose ends.”
— John

Logos con carne

tangled I find myself feeling “at loose ends.” If you search on that phrase, you find a big part of the definition involves the idea of “not knowing what to do,” although sources differ a bit on whether that’s due to having nothing to do or due to not being able to decide what to do. More to the point, most identify the main feeling: being restless and unsettled.

A key reason my ends are loose is obvious given my last post, but this river has other tributaries (I never met a metaphor I couldn’t mix). Certainly in my case, the problem isn’t having nothing to do; I have plenty of projects. The problem is the utter lack of fulfillment in doing most of them.

And, sadly, this blog is turning out to be high on that list.

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The Winter of ’14 And The Promise Of Spring

I talked with my uncle in Rhode Island this afternoon. It was snowing there, of course. Maybe it’s the same snow we had in Maryland yesterday. It shows signs of letting up. Today’s snow in RI., that is. Not the winter of 2014.

My uncle assures me that this is the coldest winter in his 85 years. And it ain’t over yet. When the snow stops, he’s planning to go out and shovel his steps.

He can’t drive just now. There’s good news and bad news from the retina specialist. The fluid in one eye has gone away, after five shots over nearly a year’s time. The shots cost $1,500 a pop. Thank goodness for his health insurance plan, which pays all but a $40 copay.

Meanwhile, vision in the other eye is not so good. It’s three years since he’s had new glasses. So the specialist sends him back to the regular eye doc. Maybe new lenses will improve his vision enough  to make him legal to drive. Fortunately, a cousin lives just across the state line in Massachusetts and takes my uncle to the grocery store every week and the laundromat every two weeks.

The coming attraction is winter storm Titan. Look for it Sunday or Monday. Possible heavy snow,  not to mention ice.  How can we have reached the letter “T” in storms? What happens when we run out of letters? What if winter never ends? Let’s hope we never reach “T” during hurricane season.

Let’s wrap this report up neatly on a positive note. Only two days remaining in February. March arrives Saturday. I can hardly believe it, but my calendar claims that daylight saving time begins March 9. More amazing still, Spring is scheduled for March 20, a few days after St. Patrick’s Day.

Nothing can stop Spring. Not freezing temperatures, not snow. In case of a blizzard, school might be closed that week, but Spring can never be canceled.

I look forward to driving north to see my uncle, but not until the last snowflake falls.

— John Hayden

They are stronger than I am. They are me.

“Heroic helplessness.” “Incorrigibility.” This is a brilliant paragraph. I’ve recently read about aging, middle age into old age. I’ve read about it in other blogs, and I’ve just finished “State Of Wonder,” by Ann Patchett, a novel which has a lot to say about the human condition and the inescapable consequences of aging. — John

Live & Learn


Age is truly a time of heroic helplessness. One is confronted by one’s own incorrigibility. I am always saying to myself, “Look at you, and after a lifetime of trying.” I still have the vices that I have known and struggled with— well it seems like since birth. Many of them are modified , but not much. I can neither order nor command the hubbub of my mind. Or is it my nervous sensibility? This is not the effect of age; age only defines one’s boundaries. Life has changed me greatly, it has improved me greatly, but it has also left me practically the same. I cannot spell, I am over critical, egocentric and vulnerable. I cannot be simple. In my effort to be clear I become complicated. I know my faults so well that I pay them small heed. They are stronger than I am. They are me.

~ Florida…

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Confessions of an Aging Blogger

I have this habit of disappearing without warning. It’s one of my many deficiencies as a blogger.


Some days I walk around wondering, “Where did I put my head?”


My photography skills leave something to be desired. The new Canon has a miraculous zoom lens, but my hands are unsteady. This egret is quite a distance off, and I can’t for the life of me capture all of her in one frame. So I try to salvage pictures using iPhoto. Powerful hardware and software should not be left unattended. Or, as a wise manager told me long ago, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”


I nearly had her, that time! My goal is to write short and sweet. But often I’ll go on and on, trying to capture an argument that’s as elusive as an egret at 100 yards.


I need to learn to be satisfied with an incomplete picture. Incomplete and fuzzy writing. That’s my style, more often than not.

princess lola

I frequently veer off topic on a whim. That’s a blogging no-no. Which reminds me, have I posted a photo of Princess Lola recently?

Long-hair cat

Once I get into the zone, I could blog all night. It’s not as if I have a shortage of ideas. Definitely no shortage of cute and regal cat pictures. (When I really get going, I throw in random adjectives and adverbs, not to mention parenthetical references.)

cat on sofa

I have a compulsion to cover the subject in depth and variety. Cats come in so many interesting shapes and sizes. They’re so cute when they’re sleeping. I’m not above stating the obvious.


Lastly, I frequently write about taboo subjects. Not religion; I’m talking politics. Boring.

Now that I’ve retired from gainful employment, I’ll have more time for blogging! I’m trying to decide on a course of action. Should I start a new blog? I’m searching for the perfect niche. Preferably one that will draw a wide audience resulting in astounding statistics and minor income from the WordAds program.

While I’m awaiting inspiration, I’ll probably write about retirement. And that’s all I have to say tonight.

— John Hayden

Retirement Ennui

Folks who earn their living in a seasonal beach town get an adrenaline rush during the whirl of summer. Naturally, letdown and loss follow when the music stops. By Christmastime, the “Wait till next year” anticipation sets in. Anticipation is good to have during the dark night and the cold winter.

This October, the music really stopped. For the last time. Retirement. Fin de siecle.

The motel will reopen in May, but it will reopen without me.

The initial experience of retirement is bittersweet for most lifelong workers, I would venture. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s disorienting, unbalancing. But probably not as bad as quitting smoking cold turkey.

I’m making too many changes, more quickly than is advisable. I’ve been thinking about and planning the changes for a year, at least. And heaven knows, I’ve experienced plenty of other changes along the way.

Equilibrium will return eventually.

— John

Retirement Countdown

stone jetty in surf

I’ve survived another season working in the hospitality trade in Ocean City, MD, and lived to see another Labor Day! Thank God! Wish I could say this was the best season yet in Ocean City, but that would not be true. Not planning to do it again next summer.

The beach motel will close for the winter in a few weeks, and after that, I will be Retired! Looking forward to whatever comes next. — John

high water warning

A Brief History of the Boomer Generation

(Note: This essay was written in 2009 as a WordPress “page.” It’s become buried and hard to find, so I thought it time to republish it properly as a “post,” complete with categories and tags.)

MY PARENTS were born in 1920, which seems now to be in a different historical era. They were children in the Roaring ’20s, teenagers through the Great Depression, young adults at the beginning of World War II.

They are the Greatest Generation. They put off everything to fight the war. Then the boys came home — the ones who survived — and started making up for lost time. They attended college in greater numbers than ever before, under the GI Bill, married and bought brand new ticky-tacky houses with VA loans. And they had children. Did they ever.

The Greatest Generation shared hardship, service, accomplishment, victory. Then they settled down and didn’t look back much. As they had devoted themselves to country in the 1940s, they devoted themselves to work and family in the 1950s and 1960s. They created my generation.

We’re the Baby Boomer generation. We are NOT the greatest, not even close, as Garrison Keeler wryly observed.



We have shared history from the 1950s — polio shots and “duck and cover.”  The children of the 50s and 60s grew up in the shadow of the Cold War, with an awareness of unseen nuclear danger in the world, as well as a gradual awakening to inequality in America.

Though others see us as a monolithic cohort, the Boomer generation was divided in the 1960s and early 1970s by different, even opposite experiences. Many of us went to college, and many did not. We went to Vietnam, or we opposed the war (some did both).

The country cracked apart, during the 1960s, along social and economic lines. First the Civil Rights Movement, then the Vietnam War and the Peace Movement. The divide deepened and hardened in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Make love not war. Don’t trust anyone over 30.   Continue reading