11-21-2019 Letter and Commentary


The power of encouragement

There is a saying: “You will be the same person five years from now as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.” I don’t know who originated it, but I can see how it could well be true. People in our lives have a tremendous influence on us. Books are a means of meeting people as well. Through books we learn to understand others’ thoughts and perspectives. Our parents have the most significant early influence on us. For the most part, adult influences can be helpful, but degrading comments from parents can be the most remembered and worst debilitating inputs we receive as children. In later life, they can be the hardest to overcome. On the positive side however, I’ve discovered that there are also encouragers sent our way. I remember teachers that were encouragers. There was a high school art teacher, and a history teacher and a Phys Ed teacher who was also the soccer coach. They were very helpful, and I am thankful for them even today – 52 years after graduation. They have all passed on now, but if I could I would tell them that I was not only thinking of them, but thankful for them too. What can we do to encourage those around us this Thanksgiving season? Especially the young people that cross our paths. Well, we can be non-judgmental, but rather find something that deserves compliment. Verbal encouragement will be remembered a long time, and it can be very empowering for the receiver. We can invite to participation with our family. We can smile. We can engage in conversation. We can give deference in lines. And we can pray for them. We can do a lot if we set our minds to it. And why not? Others have made us thankful. We can do the same.

Seasonal work while getting Social Security

Many people pick up side jobs when the holiday shopping season comes around. It’s a good way for you to make some extra income during the busy season or ease back into working if you have been out of the labor force for a while. We’re here to help you navigate working seasonally if you get Social Security. You can get Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and work at the same time. But if you’re younger than full retirement age and earn more than certain amounts, your benefits will be reduced, although not dollar for dollar. Your benefits may increase when you reach full retirement age. You can read more about working while retired at www.socialsecu- rity.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html. If you receive Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), special rules also make it possible for people to work and still receive monthly payments. If you want to try working again, seasonal work may help you ease back into the work force. Read Working While Disabled at www.socialsecurity.gov/ pubs/EN-05-10095.pdf or visit our Ticket to Work website at https://choosework.ssa.gov for more information. We also have an easy-to-share video introducing people to Ticket to Work at choosework.ssa.gov/library/meet-ben-an-introduction-to-ticket-to-work. Keep in mind that you must report all earnings, including your seasonal earnings, to Social Security. Your earnings also count toward your future benefits. You earn Social Security credits when you work in a job and pay Social Security taxes. We use your total yearly earnings to figure your Social Security credits. You can learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/ pubs/EN-05-10072.pdf. Having a job can bring positive change to your life in a number of ways, providing independence, fulfillment, and community involvement. Social Security is here to help. Please share this information with friends and family. 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.