On alternate years, the Social Security Administration sends me a statement estimating various theoretical payouts should I retire or die. I showed up in their system in 1981, when I made a cool $1,337 working in the local grocery store bakery after school. Like Susan, some of my compensation was under-the-table (the forms required to declare day-old donuts and “duck bread” were too fomplicated.)
The actual job also involved a lot of time “under-the-table” cleaning up the catastrophe the morning staff left behind following their performance of the Dance of the Flour Plum Fairies. Come to think of it, this may be one of the reasons I’m obsessive about keeping my kitchen clean as I cook.
Anyway, while perusing the lucid, four-page explanation, I noticed a couple of things I hadn’t before. 1) Including the donut windfall experienced from 1981 through 1983, I’ve fared worse financially during even-numbered decades. 2) There’s a one-time, $255 benefit that my loved ones “may receive upon my death.” I’m glad they clarified the one-timeness aspect as it saves them from the bureaucratic faux pas if I died twice, but only $255 seems … lame. It’s barely enough for my heirs to conduct a manage-it-themselves cremation. (Yes, I checked.) Plus, I think there are more fun and practical ways to spend a one-time $255 death benefit. For example, you could conduct valuable research involving mustard, buy a big stack of two-cent postage stamps to use when the rates increase next month, or sample one of every Krispy Kreme flavor made or… the possibilities are endless.