Category Archives: Ageism

Only Child on seniors’ age versus finances

Only Child  contemplates some harsh realities

Only Child contemplates some harsh realities

When is a senior a senior? Is it 65? Or 60? Or maybe 59? Or maybe 70? Being senior is not necessarily your age, how you feel or how your health is. Being senior boils down to one thing – money.

Last week I did the draft of my income tax returns for 2012. Not only was the income from all sources paltry but what I can’t claim for senior tax credits upset me because I’m not quite 65 – the age the Canadian Federal government puts for seniors’ tax credits, Old Age Security  and Guaranteed Income Supplement payments (the latter can be clawed back when you do your tax returns).

But, wait a minute – the Feds aren’t consistent here. Canada Pension Plans can be paid out from age 60. Last year I opted to start receiving them and many months they saved my bacon. But if my tax calculations are correct (or nearly correct – I have to go through the draft again) my income tax payment is around the same amount as one month’s CPP payment.

Besides not qualifying for seniors’ tax credits, I’m not married or living common law and don’t have a child under 18, so can’t qualify for those tax credits either. My medical-health expenses either don’t qualify or aren’t sufficient to work in with the percentage deduction there. So I’m left with tax credits for a bank service and for having a pass for Toronto public transportation. Oh, I can fill out the form for Ontario property tax credits (age isn’t a “qualification” here) – but it is no longer used as a tax credit when filing your taxes – if approved, you get a monthly payment for the next year.

But wait a minute: the Toronto Transit Commission seniors’ age starts at 65; Shoppers Drug Mart is either 60 or 65 (depending on who you ask there), Hudson’s Bay is 60, Sears is – well I don’t know as their Sears Advantage seems geared to all adult ages. VIA Rail is 60.

Can’t we get this age senior setup consistent? I suggest 55, although that won’t help me now. Of course, that isn’t where governments are thinking for seniors’ age. Freedom 55 is more of a dinosaur than we seniors are.

Where does that leave a maybe senior who is living barely above the poverty level (counting all income sources) for a single person living alone in Toronto? (And I did a Google search for that so I’m not making this status up).

Where it leaves me is having to hit on my RRSPS (which are so meagre they wouldn’t keep me for half a year) to pay my taxes and other non-regular expenses (house repairs/replacements and the like). I don’t have a company pension and it’s too late (in my years) to get into this new government pension setup for self-employed. My freelance income sure isn’t sufficient (maybe if I could spend more time at it instead of dealing with repairs and housework, it could improve. But that’s all part of “the only person living just above the poverty line syndrome). I know I’m not the only “senior” swaying in this boat.

So I do an annual hit on my RRSPs? I figure the way things are going (stress, worry, problems, even health) if I don’t they might just outlive me.

Excuse me while I attend to the latest problem – my printer is acting up – it is printing only one page at a time, even when set to do more. And I checked the connections – even switched to another power cord.

What do you think of all this senior age-money nonsense?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Ageism, Aloneness, finances, Income Taxes, Living alone, Old Age, Old Age pensions, Only child, RRSPs, Seniors, Worrying

Only Child looks at ageism

Only Child not ready to be considered old

If you are a person of a certain age, particularly a woman, have you been subtly discriminated against because of your age? With job hunting? Retirement? Health? Or anywhere else?

The recent Superbowl feedback about Madonna’s performance hinted at her age. So what if she is 53? Or if she were 23 or 73? The point should be her talent, not her age.

Ditto for other female performers. I’m thinking of Helen Mirren in particular. And then there are the rest of us “of a certain age.” And for full discloser, I have been guilty – not just towards others but towards myself using the so-called health issues related to age as an excuse for not coming up to snuff doing different things.

As the late Ann Landers used to say, we need a “lashing” with a wet noodle.

Many of you know from reading some of my other blog posts that my parents didn’t exactly live through the middle or higher ends of so-called old age. Mom died at 63 and Dad died at 66. I don’t think they were discriminated in the health area because of their age, at least not intentionally. The closest I can come to that is with Dad’s last bout with cancer (untreatable), he was sent to what was then Riverdale in Toronto to finish off his time. In 1965 there were no hospices like today. When Mom had her brain aneurysm the doctors at the hospital did all they could (including operating) but it didn’t work. However, the fact that I wasn’t going to be notified of her actually dying until afterwards may be bad hospital practice rather than ageism. Maybe.

As I write in my memoir:

I get a phone call from one of Mom’s church friends, Mrs. Cook, the mother of Mary, the girl who used to walk The Bully and me to kindergarten.

“Sharon, I just called St. Mike’s and it doesn’t look so good. They’re not really saying anything, but when my husband was dying this is the way it was. They didn’t phone until after he died. You better get down to the hospital.”

I phone home and get Aunt Minnie who is just heading out the door. We agree to meet in mother’s room at the hospital. Then I receive permission to leave from the Acting Superintendent who says to get one of the staff to drive me. I look around for a cop – preferably a hunk in uniform who can just shove aside the security guard at the hospital. It’s before visiting hours start at 11 a.m. and I don’t have enough nerve or body to muscle my way in.

The only cop is a 19-year old cadet. But Roger is tall and in uniform, and he drives me. When we arrive, I ask him to accompany me to the elevator because I had problems with the security guard after hours on Saturday. I feel safe strolling behind this almost-cop in uniform. The guard gives me no problem. I thank Roger and take the elevator up. As I round the bend on mother’s floor, I overhear two nurses at their station talking.

“Better phone the daughter.”

(From You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

Today, as I journey through the same age as Mom’s last year, I consider if I am discriminated against in any way (subtle or not) and I have to conclude that for the most part I am not…yet. But I also have to consider my life situation. I am self-employed but if I had to look for a full-time job would I be discriminated against because of my age? I am able to get my Canada Pension Plan before turning 65. I get seniors discounts (before 65) at several stores, railway travel, and my bank (no account fees except for bounced cheques). And sometimes someone even offers me a seat on the subway, streetcar or bus – and I don’t take that as an insult. I get respect in my profession (writing, editing, writing instructing and speaking) although I think that comes from experience, but experience comes with age. Catch 22?

No, the only derogatory age item I can think of now is being called “dear” or “ma’am” I am not anybody’s “dear” or “deer” for that matter, and I hate being called “ma’am,” although I have to admit I got “ma’am” when I was in my 30s.

There are studies done and article written on ageism in relation to health and work. One of the most interesting is connected to the UK’s change in law in 2011 regarding mandatory retirement age. Read about that at http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/joepublic/2011/sep/30/abolition-default-retirement-age-ageism-at-work, which also contains links to other articles on age discrimination. And go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/17/age-discrimination-work-peoples-panel for comments by five people on age discrimination – too old or too young for their work. Also check out Linda Woolf’s excellent thesis on the subject at http://www.webster.edu/~woolflm/ageism.html

You be the judge on this. But it is worth looking around and seeing what exactly is going on with age discrimination – despite it being illegal in many countries, at least for job discrimination.

Meantime, I’m going to work on my attitude towards myself. And give a pep talk to a friend feeling OLD because she is approaching 60.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Age discrimination, Age discrimination laws, Ageism, Madonna, Old Age, Only child, Only child memoir, Seniors, Sharon Crawford