The retiree, and at times, the precarious finances stretched out over an increasing longevity.

 

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Sunk in deep thought, and pensive thinking, we might at times be speculating on how many years we still have ahead of us. Most of us would probably want as many years ahead as possible, and barring ill health in my case I have decided to at least reach ninety years. Australia like some other countries doesn’t have a national pension scheme whereby all adults get a pension regardless of assets or wealth. When with Helvi, and still a couple, our assets were deemed to be below the threshold and were therefore entitled to a small part pension. One has to pass a ‘deeming’ test. All savings and assets, apart from the family home are added up to determine the viability of a pension.  The pension also allows free car registration, electricity and water concessions and hearing aids at a reduced price. Also some interstate train trips.

For some reason which I have now forgotten I had to sort out something at the Government Office. Perhaps it had to do with a concession of one sort or the other. I duly showed my ID in the form of my pension card. The Covid was in full bloom then, and I had to talk to the Government Office woman at the right distance which was marked on the floor by tape. In order to show my ID I had to actually throw the pension card on the counter because my arms don’t have the length of 1.50 Meter. The other option would be to fall towards the counter and hand the pension card. At my age that adroitness has gone and the acute angle of my body would have incurred a possible fracture and need for ambulance.

Much to my surprise the Government Office woman looked at my pension card, turned it around, typed in the number while all the time keeping an eye out on me. And then, just out of the blue and of her own volition she ripped my card up. She looked triumphantly and said: ‘You are not entitled to your pension anymore’. It turned out that the pension was withdrawn because my wife had died. The reason was that the assets now were in one name instead of divided by two. I had transgressed the amount above the pension. That’s how it works. I thought of the Government Office woman act of ripping up my pension. It was so reminiscent of the seventies when my parents also went through the same asset testing at 65 years of dad. At one stage my mother was asked to empty her handbag on the desk. My parents were dumbfounded but decided to return to Holland where their son was living, and which has a generous pension scheme not dependent on assets or wealth. They do pay hefty taxes though!

But back to my own case. I am able to live well and do so by getting an income from rent and share dividends,  and with eating up savings I should be alright till I turn ninety.  The question is, in case the longevity stretches till ninety five, or save the plight, one hundred? What then? Will I still saunter off to the Government Office woman and beg for a reinstatement of my pension? There are so many questions.

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33 Responses to “The retiree, and at times, the precarious finances stretched out over an increasing longevity.”

  1. Dora Says:

    Yes, thats life Gerard, 2020 style.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yvonne Says:

    Lucky they didn’t send the Robo-debt folks after you! That was a bit of a scandal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, that was something. Thousands lying awake waiting for the boots and dreaded midnight knock on the door claiming back moneys that were supposed to be superfluous. The Government had is all arse about. Funny, how they now stay silent on that matter.
      And we wonder why Australia suffers so much mental breakdowns.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. catterel Says:

    This sounds incredible. What a horrible woman! Surely, if you paid contributions towards a pension while you were working, you must be entitled to a pension when you retire?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, one would think so but Australia has always presented a pension as something only the failed deserve. In many European countries pensions are not stigmatized because in those countries everyone gets a pension. Enough revenue is raised to afford that.
      As I understand it, In Holland a special social security tax is paid on top of an income tax. Then there is a much higher GST on most shopping items. (Consumption tax)

      Like

  4. lifecameos Says:

    Really scary !! 1) to suddenly stop your income. (2) to rip up the card of a senior citizen !! In New Zealand we are entitled to a government superannuation but it only pays for the basics and not for extras like medical treatment. So far I and my friends have been treated courteously by the relevant welfare department.. I hope they continue to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the ripping up of my pension card says a lot about the attitude of some that work in those pension departments of social security. The whole atmosphere inside is awful. No thought on design or atmosphere. A grey cavernous area, with grey furniture, grey people and an all pervading air of utter gloom and listlessness.
      I have seen police inside when some poor sod loses it and runs amok.
      Yes, New Zealand is miles ahead and they seem to have good leadership.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lifecameos Says:

        The welfare people are usually decent to senior citizens over 65, but people needing unemployment benefits or child support still have a tough time. When I was made redundant at 62 – for the third time in my life, I was sent to a senior person who was quite unfriendly. Government since Sept 2017 is still relatively humane, but there is still a huge amount needing to be done after years of our ruthless right wing people.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, my late wife knew how to handle unfriendly social security staff. At on stage, after a firm yet friendly rebuke from my wife how inappropriately the staff member was dealing with the issue at hand, a senior staff member took over and all was done in a friendly and professional manner.
        I sometime think that the training of people dealing with welfare is lacking.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Julia Lund Says:

    What a horrible experience. Why didn’t they just write to you … There is a state pension here, though they keep moving the goal posts further away; my children will probably be eighty before they qualify. If someone hasn’t paid enough National Insurance (a tax deducted from your salary, depending on how much you earn, with your employer paying a chunk, too), then they have to apply for a means tested benefit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, nothing was written to me. If they were aware my wife had died and the assets were now in one name, they could have informed me that the pension was withdrawn because of exceeding the asset or deeming test.
      Isn’t it funny that having worked in Holland for a few years I was notified by the Dutch Government years ago I was entitled to a small pension which I still receive every month. This Dutch pension includes a yearly holiday loading as well. No test or showing of jewelry or stray coins in my pockets or handbag either. I worked for over 50 years in Australia and paid taxes and I get zilch.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Robert Parker Says:

    That seems to be the current thinking – -if you actually plan for retirement, and save up for it, the government should reduce your benefits, to punish you for being provident and responsible. Or if you’re able to work part-time, you can’t earn too much , or again, the gov’t will reduce your monthly social security payment, even though you paid into the system for decades.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Ye, that’s how it is. One is supposed to work and save for retirement. This is what most do with contribution by employers in superannuation funds which regularly get pilfered by financial advisers.
      With Covid and many out of work some now use up their superannuation to be able to get by. Heaven knows what will happen when they reach old age!
      But, this Government will insist taxation is evil and ought to be given back or avoided as much as possible.
      Oh, democracy at work.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Oh, gosh. 😦 I don’t understand any of this…why they did this.
    But then I don’t understand much of the thinking of any country’s government…and how they care for (or don’t care for) their people. 😦
    My best wishes that you will be okay even if you live to 105, Gerard!
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, one never knows. My mother was always in and out of hospitals with mysterious issues throughout her life. As a child we often had a nurse or house keeper looking after us because yet again mother had to have something done.
      Even so, she lived till 96, probably also to a large part due to good aged care in The Netherlands.
      Hugs to you and pat to Cooper.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    PS…I got so upset I forgot to say…
    I love that photo of you and Helvi! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Charlotte Hoather Says:

    This makes me sad that this is a worry for you. I know a few musicians that work into their late 80s because their pensions are too small.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, fancy having to work in old age in order to survive. How are you going, Charlotte?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Charlotte Hoather Says:

        I’m good Gerard thank you, working hard to stay on top of my singing practice online as well as holding down a customer service sales role to pay the bills, I enjoy it though so thats great. I’ve found that I’ve got some marvellous neighbours and friends. I’m hoping to share a Christmas balcony concert this Sunday on my blog its just taking a long time to download it all because it was recorded Friday 11th in the dark by candlelight, the children all came out on their balconies and the families told me it was a proper little treat so that made me very happy. You keep safe and well Gerard and have a lovely Christmas. Best wishes Charlotte

        Liked by 3 people

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        That would have been a very nice occasion. Especially during those difficult times. You have a nice Christmas dear Charlotte.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Nasty woman, Gerard. A bureaucrat’s bureaucrat. Maybe she was required to take the card, but how she did it was beyond rude. We get our social security regardless, but I wouldn’t want to live on it alone. My brother, however, managed to live on it and save half of what he got each month! –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, social security is very meagre in Australia and I believe the same in the US. There is well entrenched belief, nurtured by liberal governments that social security isn’t a right but more of a blight on the path to riches which we should all aspire and work for in this land of dog eat dog.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        We all pay into Social Security, all of our earning life, Gerard. Basically, it is money the government owes us. The government spends it in advance however, and expects future generations to make up the difference. –Curt

        Liked by 2 people

  11. shoreacres Says:

    Well, finances are a constant concern for me, although I suspect I’d continue to work even if I won the lottery. What I can’t believe is the woman’s behavior. That really is inexcusable. Even allowing for the day-to-day hassles government employees surely suffer, she didn’t have to be quite that mean!

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you Linda,
      Yes she took pleasure in doing that and tear up the card in front of me. Some people get gratification out of doing those sort of power things. Best not to give it oxygen as you have often advised me. I just walked out of that sad grey building.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. rangewriter Says:

    Holy cow! That is an eye-opening and darn right depressing story. I thought America had the medal for the most hard-hearted attitudes towards age and illness. But I think this beats all.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I really think that the training lacks in staffing those centers. It is the same with the police. Time again and again we see totally inappropriate dealings with the public from Government employees.

      Australia always followed the US in attitudes of discipline and keeping order.( by punishment, instead of rewarding or rehabilitating.)

      The tearing up of my pension card was intended to intimidate.

      Liked by 2 people

      • rangewriter Says:

        It’s beyond horrific. That is something I’ve never heard of in the States, however, that attitude is well in evidence for people of color or women in trouble. Intimidation. Funny. Like old people need to be rule by intimidation? I think of intimidation as a tool of the weak and insecure.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Dani Says:

    What a markedly cruel action! Silly me thought the States took the cake on those 😦

    Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes Dani, my parents had similar treatment decades ago when dad turned 65 and entitled to a pension. My mother had to empty her handbag on the desk of the man who interviewed my parents.
      Terminal materialism by right wing governments. It doesn’t work in the long run.

      Like

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