Thursday, 26 December 2013

Old and tired?

The "diary" idea didn't catch on, so this blog will plod on with infrequent updates. But there is news about our 65+ experience: on 3 December we signed up at Work and Income's New Brighton branch, which was a depressing experience. Watching a Winz office in action provides a view of society we don't get in Parklands or at the University; it's easy to forget that there are a lot of people living on virtually nothing.

We were given a ritual speech that begins "Superannuation is a universal entitlement, it's not means tested..." three or four times; I think it's the MSD equivalent of the police caution. They processed Heather and me together, in less than an hour. Apparently, in spite of very clear instructions in pamphlets and web sites, it's rare for people to show up with their paper work all organised.

We then drove to an AA shop and queued for an hour to get new drivers' licences. My clerical guy viewed every page of my application about 3 times, flicking at random from page to page. I was itching to ask if he wanted me to look for something, (I'm a good skim reader after 20+ years of marking kids' writing) but to be honest I don't think even he knew what he was looking for. Anyway, we finally got the obligatory awful photos, and 2 weeks later our licences arrived in the mail.

A week later my Super Gold Card arrived. I used it at the vege shop on Christmas Eve, and got a few dollars off the berries and other goodies, so I suppose I need to get into the habit of asking "Do you give a Gold Card discount?" wherever I shop. Thanks, Winston.

That's it for the administrative stuff. We got Christmas over and done with, which was all very pleasant - just a walk on the beach and a large lunch for Alice, Heather, and me. Heather did a light evening meal, and we had an early night.
The consolations of age - nice paintings. This is my birthday present,
"Ahuriri Shadows" by Adrienne Pavelka. It will hang in our bedroom.
Then today I woke up, and I'm 65. Really. In my mind I'm 35 (I used to say 21), but 65 it is. Now I'm really old! I did a Facebook post, "Well, that's it - officially old. None of this pussy-footing half-arsed "middle aged" pretence, the word is "old". And happy, of course."  So that's it for achieving my superannuitant status.

We have a few days of supposed home projects, weather permitting, then Ross and Julie arrive and we'll host a NY Eve barbecue. After that I'll do a couple of days volunteering at the Naval Point Club, being a race official for the Paper Tiger Nationals. I sailed in the 1993 PT Nationals in Motueka, so I'm paying my dues.

I go back to work on the 6th January for a week, then we have a week off to go to Wanaka for our old mate Peter King's wedding, and back home to host a 70th birthday for Heather's sister Elaine.

At work I have had to take up the role of team manager (this is my third stint), and we've had yet another restructuring report dropped on us, an hour before we left for the holidays. This is the 4th restructuring for us since 2009, on top of dealing with the earthquakes.

The inevitable "restructuring paralysis" means that nobody will make a decision about a new e-learning manager until all the new bosses are appointed, and it greatly increases the chances that someone who doesn't know who we are, or what we do, gets to make the decision.

It looks like I've yet again fallen foul of the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times".

Monday, 2 December 2013

The diary of a debutante superannuitant - Step 1, paper work

To begin at the beginning; I turn 65 on the 26th of December and Heather's birthday is 17 days later, the 13th of January. As we both turn 65 over the Christmas break, we thought we'd better get organised before everything closes for the holidays, so we are getting our paper work in order.

So far we have found, or requested new copies of our birth certificates, passports, bank accounts, and our marriage certificate. We need these because tomorrow we've taken a day of leave, to visit the Ministry of Social Development Senior Service office in New Brighton. I go first, with an interview at 10am - they've allowed 90 minutes for this! Considering that the NZ Government already knows all about me, from my health records to my IRD number, I'll be interested to see how much new information they actually collect. Heather follows with a similar interview time.

We hope that the MSD can organise pension payments to start on the single rate on 26 December, then shift to a married couple rate after one fortnightly payment, when Heather's birthday comes two weeks later. I am skeptical about their ability to be that agile, but we'll see.

After the MSD, we go to renew our driver's licences. These are set to expire in the month you turn 65 (anyone over 55, take a look) - so we've both had eyesight checks from the optician, because the eye test systems at the AA are renowned for not working well. I've also had to get a medical clearance so I can keep my truck licence - I don't know when medicals became compulsory for that, but I may as well keep the licence active in case I ever need to shift something large and heavy. They'll probably want our birth certificates as well.

So that's the story so far - lots of paper, several visits to doctors and opticians, and many phone calls to obtain other documents. How do people who aren't organised and literate cope with this bureaucratic forest?