Posted on

Once upon a time, on the way to senior …

One recent evening, on my way into the courthouse heading for the commissioners’ room and yet another official meeting, a friend of mine asked:
“How many of these meetings have you covered, anyway?”
“Oh, Lord!” I answered. “I don’t know.”
Now, let’s see: that would be 19 years of commissioners’ meetings times 12 months, or 228 months times two meetings each month, or 456, give or take a few – to account for the few I missed because of vacations.
Truth be told, my job has been so interesting that time has moved so swiftly I hardly noticed. What could possibly be more fun that keeping track of county government? But, it’s about time to think about the future.
Planning ahead is a virtue I haven’t always practiced, but from what I hear today, tomorrow could bring some perks I don’t want to miss. I’ve heard it’s sort of like a reward for living so long, contributing to society and to the wealth of certain businesses, like banks, some retailers, restaurants, etc. So let’s review them (after all, I’m not going to be alone in this venture) to make sure we don’t miss any freebies.
What confuses the issue more than any other is that there is no standard age for attaining “senior citizen” status. Sometimes it’s 50, sometimes 55, sometimes it’s 65. I like the 50 one best. So, to be in the know, you need to call and ask for details about discounts or special services for seniors. Or ask when you visit in person.
“What’s sad is, I don’t even have to ask anymore,” a friend of mine said. “They just give it to me.”
Oh, well.
Even O’Bannon Publishing Co., the publisher of this newspaper, gets into the act with a $1 savings (about three percent) on annual subscriptions for seniors. But to be a “senior,” you have to be 62 or older.
There are discounts for seniors at some fast-food stores (McDonald’s has a “senior” drink for 49 cents), many restaurants offer 10 percent discounts, some movie theaters offer children’s ticket prices for seniors, and some department stores (Kohl’s) give discounts from time to time.
Two banks I checked with in Corydon offer special services and discounts for persons 50 and over. Like free checking, free checks, free traveler’s checks, money orders and special promotions.
Uncle Sam even offers discounts, according to a CPA friend of mine. For instance, if you’re 65 or over, you qualify for an additional deduction on your income taxes. That’s $900 for married taxpayers and $1,150 for singles (I know; doesn’t seem fair to the married folks, does it? But that’s another topic we can get into later). Indiana, too, gives 65’ers a break. Indiana offers a flat exemption – $1,000 – to every taxpayer in that category.
The real biggie, the one that rewards just about every 65-or-plus senior, is the Social Security advantage. You can work and earn all you want without having to pay part of it back to Social Security. From 62 to 65, you have to return $1 for every $3 earned to Social Security. I suppose the theory behind that is to encourage people not to draw Social Security until age 65, but let’s face it: Uncle Sam discriminates if you fall into that three-year chasm.
For property owners, again seniors are in luck. That’s because anyone who turned 65 by Dec. 31, 2002, can get $6,000 worth of taxable value off this year’s property taxes. That amount is deducted before the tax bill is even figured, but it’s not automatic. You must file for the exemption at the auditor’s office in the courthouse. Don’t worry; it’s not difficult, and those folks are quite helpful.
Even the courts have special regard for seniors. If you are 65 or older, you automatically have a get-out-of-jury-duty-free card, if you want out, that is. I’ve always wanted to serve on a jury, but nobody wants me, not the prosecution nor the defense. Maybe when I turn 65 and stop collecting the “court news” for this newspaper every week, I’ll be accepted.
All in all, being 65 and alive may not be that bad. I’ll let you know.