09-24-2020 Letters and Commentary

See your lifetime earnings with “my Social Security” Did you know you can see your work history online all the way back to your first job? Your earnings history is a record of your progress toward your Social Security benefits. We keep track of your earnings so we can pay you the benefits you’ve earned over your lifetime. This is why reviewing your Social Security earnings record is so important. If an employer didn’t properly report just one year of your earnings to us, your future benefit payments could be less than they should be. Over the course of a lifetime, that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in retirement or other benefits to which you are entitled. It’s important to identify reporting problems as soon as possible. As time passes, you may no longer have easy access to past tax documents, and some employers may no longer exist or be able to provide past payroll information. While it’s your employer’s responsibility to provide accurate earnings information to us, you should still review and inform us of any errors or omissions so you get credit for the contributions you’ve made through payroll taxes. You’re the only person who can look at your lifetime earnings record and verify that it’s complete and correct. The easiest way to verify your earnings record is to visit www.ssa.gov/myaccount and set up or sign in to your personal “my Social Security” account. You should review each year of listed earnings carefully and confirm them using your own records, such as W-2s and tax returns. Keep in mind that earnings from this year and last year may not be listed yet. You can find detailed instructions on how to correct your Social Security earnings record at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10081.pdf. Let your friends and family know they can access important information like this any time at www.ssa.gov and do much of their business with us online. Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov

War of the ages When H.G. Wells wrote his science fiction novel, “The War of the Worlds” in 1898, little did he know that another “Wells”, Orson Welles, would dramatize his story in a radio drama that freaked out the world again forty years later. He might also be surprised that a movie by that name came out in 2005. We are bent on invading aliens! But there’s another war of the worlds that has been raging since before our times began. It’s the war that’s continued through the ages between God and Satan. We have hints of this ongoing engagement throughout the Bible. Ezekiel 28:11-17a and Isaiah 14:12-15 seem to describe the origins of the fray. Prophetic detail of the whole engagement can also be found in areas of Daniel, Zechariah, Matthew, and Revelation, among others. Bottom line, no truce, God wins. The Bible explains that we need not be casualties in this age-old, inherited battle. We actually have certain powers ourselves to overcome the enemy of our souls. These powers are powers of resistance and persistence. James says: “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you; draw near to God and He will draw near to you,” – defensive and offensive tactics. Reconnaissance intel is explained in Ephesians 6:12-18 where the enemy’s true identity is revealed, we are given tactics, and we are encouraged to avoid collateral damage in our operations. Revelation 12:8 reviews the results of persistent commitment to faith in Jesus Christ: “They overcame him (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony.” – victory through solid faith in Jesus Christ and His shed blood at Calvary, and through outspoken witness to the truth as opposed to Satan’s abundant lies. It adds, “and they didn’t love their life even to the death.” They remained loyal no matter what. May we, by faith, fare well in the battle.

Expanding access to childcare As we work together to rebuild a healthy state and a healthy economy, I want you to know that I’m doing everything I can to ensure that every member of our community is brought along in the recovery. As Berrien County families begin to resume their lives safely and sensibly, I’m working in our state capitol to remove barriers and slash red tape so hardworking families have more resources available to them. Access to childcare was among the most important issues facing working families in Michigan before the pandemic, and it certainly is now. As some schools choose to go virtual, and traditional after-school activities are canceled or go digital, families shouldn’t have to choose between caring for their child or their career. In 2018, a Center for American Progress survey found women were 40-percent more likely than men to make job