Most people remember the I’m having what she’s having scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally.
In fact there is (or was the last time I was there) a sign hanging over the table at Katz’s Deli in New York where Meg Ryan pretended to have her orgasm in front of Billy Crystal.
But I laughed harder at the scene where Meg Ryan is having a meltdown and Crystal rushes over to her apartment.
“I’m going to be 40,” Ryan sobs.
“When?”, asks Billy Crystal.
Well, Meg. I’m going to be 65.
In two months.
Yesterday I walked over to the nearest Social Security office, which happens to be a block from my house, and signed up for Social Security and Medicare.
Someday has arrived.
The waiting area of the Social Security office is a classic government design. The walls are different shades of pale blue. The walls have random signs that tell you things you can’t do or should do: “No cell phones.” “Control your children.”
Sure. Good luck on that second one. They live in Brooklyn.
Fifty or so people are waiting for their number to be called so they can talk to someone. The chairs are arranged so it is impossible to get to a middle chair without sticking your ass in someone’s face or bumping all the people in the row ahead of you.
I have an appointment, so I wait a short time. Soon I am face to face with a very pleasant woman, Ms. Vicens, who signs me up and explains my Medicare options.
My Social Security options are pretty simple. Even though I started teaching at 38, the money I paid into Social Security is gone in a practical sense. The Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) formula reduces my Social Security benefit to near zero.
So I sign up for Medicare Part A and I’ll do Part B at a later time since I will be covered under Anne’s work health plan.
Except for the emotional pain of turning 65.
My situation would be entirely different if Illinois Senate President Cullerton gets his way.
If Cullerton’s Senate Bill 1 becomes law here is what would happen:
If I started teaching at the age of 22 years and taught for 34 years (some in the Illinois House wants to change that too, requiring teachers to qualify for TRS at 67) I would be 56. I would then have to choose between two options. I could opt for the promised annual cost of living adjustment to my pension. I paid 9.4% of my paycheck into the pension system for 34 years. Or I could choose access to the state’s Teacher Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP).
I would be too young to qualify for Medicare, of course. So I would have to consider giving up my yearly COLA and pay most of the premium for the TRIP health insurance.
Except I would have no idea what that premium would cost me and there would be no guarantee what TRIP would cover.
I would literally be buying the most expensive pig in a mystery poke.
A Sangamon County family court judge recently ruled that the health care retirement benefit as it applied to another group of state workers was not covered by the pension protection provision of the Illinois constitution.
Last week the Illinois Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of that ruling.
This morning I received the following email.
From: Bob Lyons
Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 8:29 AM
Subject: This Week
There will be an attempt to move pension reduction legislation, which will include the COLA for retires, this week in both the House and the Senate. Leadership is trying to convince their members that the Courts will accept “economic distress” as a justification for breaking the constitution. If you are going to protect what you have so far enjoyed, do so now because they want to take it away from you.
Bob Lyons, TRS Trustee
It’s all enough to make Meg Ryan cry.
Then she would wipe her tears and join the fight for pension rights.