Aging has its privileges

Published 1:42 am Saturday, October 16, 2010

“Age hath its privileges,” I said to our daughter as I told her about renewing my military dependent ID card several months ago. They are something like driver’s licenses; you have to apply for new ones after a certain number of years. After the clerk at the issuing department at Ft. Rucker handed me my new card, she remarked that I wouldn’t have to get another new one. The reason? When you reach a certain age, you are issued an indefinite expiration date. I had crossed that threshold.

I have a choice on how to view that. I can get depressed over being that “privileged” age or I can be thankful that I’ve stayed around long enough to enjoy reaching that point. After all, I feel no qualms about taking advantage of senior benefits where I find them, such as restaurants, department stores, etc.

That experience reminds me of another day at the ID card window at Fort Rucker. That day, the clerk startled me by commenting that I’d be eligible for Medicare the next year. Maybe thoughts of my Medicare eligibility had crossed my mind and I had shoved them aside as quickly as they came.

Questions about Medicare then led me to search for information about it which also led me to some about Social Security. Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in the Cabinet Room of the White House after Congress passed it in 1935. As of June 30, 2007, over 49 million people were receiving monthly benefits.

Have you ever wondered who received the first lump sum Social Security payment? Or who was the first worker to receive retirement benefits?

Back in 1937, the Social Security Board authorized issuance of eight lump sums. Probably Ernest Ackerman was the first to get a lump sum. The Ohio motorman who retired a day after the program’s inception and had had five cents withheld from his paycheck, received 17 cents.

Ida May Fuller from Vermont received the first retirement benefit, $22.54, in 1940. She lived long enough to get in on a Social Security cost of living increase. She also received Medicare benefits.

You might be surprised to find that a president of the United States was recipient of the first Medicare card. President Lyndon B. Johnson presented it to former President Harry S. Truman to honor his fight for government health care during his presidency. President Johnson also presented a Medicare card to former President Truman’s wife Bess. That occurred during a special ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, MO in July, 1965.

Just because a lot of my friends and relatives and myself are on the “active list” of Social Security, Medicare, and possibly the military ID card “indefinite list” doesn’t mean we’re ready to spend most of our days in a rocking chair. We appreciate the benefits and happily enjoy “age hath its privileges.”