I’ve got a birthday coming up this weekend, and it’s a big one.
No, it’s not the big 6-0. I’ve already passed that milestone.
It’s not the landmark 65th birthday, either. I’m not there yet.
Actually, my upcoming birthday is my 62nd — to which many readers likely will say “So what?”
I know, it doesn’t entitle me to a bigger discount at IHOP or put me in line for a property tax break, but it’s still big.
Why? Because as of this weekend, I will qualify for receiving Social Security — albeit at a reduced rate from what is offered at the “official” retirement age of 66.
This is a big deal to me because it is associated with early retirement, and those words haven’t been in my vocabulary before now.
And while I enjoy working at my job and my health is pretty good, after about 40 straight years of full-time employment, the concept of taking life a little slower certainly has its appeal.
Of course, there are times when retirement is the last thing I’d want.
If you’ve ever been stuck at home on a rainy day with nothing much to do, you know how great it feels to return to the office the next day and get back into the work groove.
And if I were retired, but my wife were still working, I bet those long days would seem to stretch on forever — even if I decide to pick up a hobby or join in some recreational activities.
Or I could join the crowd at the local bookstore cafe, nursing a latte for hours while squinting at my laptop and monopolizing a table.
But staying at home would not be an option, at least not most days. I’m pretty sure our cat would get tired of having me around. She really loves me and my wife (my wife even more so, but that’s another conversation) and is generally glad to see us, but she’s got her limits. After repeatedly waking her up from her naps and trying to coax her into playing, I’d get that all-too-familiar look that says, “Don’t you have somewhere you need to be?”
I’m not a very handy guy, either, so if my wife gave me a list of fix-it projects, chances are I would do them badly, requiring us to hire a professional to fix the damage — at significant cost.
Speaking of money, if you retire at 62, the government only gives you 80 percent of your full Social Security benefit entitlement. In my case, it’s a little over $1,300 a month — not much to live on.
But even if my wife and I could survive on that paltry sum, there’s the issue of medical coverage. Since I won’t qualify for Medicare coverage until I turn 65, it looks as if I’ll be sticking with my current health plan, which is actually pretty good.
When you hit your 60s, health care isn’t something you take for granted, and being without health insurance simply isn’t acceptable.
So, for now, I guess I’ll have to put those thoughts of retirement on hold. Barring an unexpected windfall from a long-lost relative or winning the lottery, I can’t afford to put my feet up just yet.
Besides, I really love the newspaper business, and I know I’d miss it, especially the opportunity to write columns and editorials.
Still, if you drop by the office and catch me staring off into space, it’s possible I might be musing about my future “golden years.”
Or I could be trying to figure out why the cat wants me out of the house so badly.
Dave Miller is deputy managing editor for opinion of the Killeen Daily Herald and editor of the Harker Heights Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7543.