12-21-2017 Letters and Commentary

Working the Christmas Eve night shift

Work sometimes gets in the way of life. When we are called on to work the night shift either because the shift rotation has fallen out that way, or because someone with seniority over us has dibs on Christmas Eve time off, here we are, forced to be away from our family again. This doesn’t seem right. Sometimes the extra pay isn’t worth it. Besides, our work conditions aren’t very healthy. It gets pretty cold at night at work sometimes.

Yet someone has to watch the sheep. At least that’s what we’re told. The sheep. Always the sheep. Like sheep are more important than we are! These sheep are meant for slaughter anyway. Well, maybe they are kind of important. After all, they are the ones that will be used for the Temple sacrifices. Even for the Day of Atonement celebration. Someday a Deliverer will come and every day will be a Day of Atonement – a day when the Messiah, Immanuel, will have His rightful place over all of this.

I wonder what the other shepherds are thinking. It’s so quiet tonight. The stars are beautiful. God made them, I know. But sometimes God seems so far away just like those stars. Sometimes I just wish He would come close.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

Ex-spouse benefits and how they affect you

Just like during tax season, it’s good to have all the information you need early so you can prepare and get any money you are due.

If you are age 62, unmarried, and divorced from someone entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, you may be eligible to receive benefits based on his or her record. To be eligible, you must have been married to your ex-spouse for 10 years or more. If you have since remarried, you can’t collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ended by annulment, divorce, or death. Also, if you’re entitled to benefits on your own record, your benefit amount must be less than you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work. In other words, we’ll pay the higher of the two benefits for which you’re eligible, but not both.

You can apply for benefits on your former spouse’s record even if he or she hasn’t retired, as long as you divorced at least two years before applying. If, however, you decide to wait until full retirement age to apply as a divorced spouse, your benefit will be equal to half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount or disability benefit. The same rules apply for a deceased former spouse.

The amount of benefits you get has no effect on the benefits of your ex-spouse and his or her current spouse. Visit Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html to find all the eligibility requirements you must meet to apply as a divorced spouse. Our benefits planner gives you an idea of your monthly benefit amount. If your ex-spouse died after you divorced, you may still quality for widow’s benefits. You’ll find information about that in a note at the bottom of the website.

Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html today to learn whether you’re eligible for benefits on your ex-spouse’s record. That could mean a considerable amount of monthly income. What you learn may bring a smile to your face… even on tax day!

Vonda VanTil 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.