Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Planning ahead

Planning ahead is clearly not something I can be doing right now. I'm too close to the edge, too able to totally forget how to cope. Yet my mind races ahead, and it's always nice to counter with answers. So this is what I'm pondering tonight. I reserve totally the right to change that at any point. (ie 2 hours ago I was freaking out about losing my job)

Anyway, my situation is this: I'm going to be 32 fairly soon. Retirement age for people my age is in the 70s and after Medicare will have died or whatever happens to it happens. Except that I'm not necessarily going to be working that long. Right now it seems like I may manage a few more years. It a way I want to just give in now and do the minimal amount of work that I would be allowed to do on SSDI. But work still is too beneficial to me, and is too much how I define myself, to do that. Which means I may try to cut to part-time, but that's just thinking.

Anyway, it's time to set up a 401k. Except that I'm not sure this is a wise move. I can't get enough money into it in the few years I probably have left working for it to matter, and getting more equity out of my house seems more important. It doesn't seem likely that I won't be on disability within the the next 5-10 years; let's assume I am not. Putting anything into a 401k is a hardship because my budget is so tight anyway. But my employer has a really good matching program.

Anyone with any thoughts? Caveat: Please don't tell me not to think of the likeliehood I won't work a tremendously long time. I know things change. I also know my situation and that all involved believe this to be true.


Emilija said...

I think that you might be thinking of it backwards. It might be that you will be able to work for most of your life, but not as soon as you'd like. It might take you months or years to get stable. You may be able to get to the place where you only need to make minor med changes every now and then. But it may take some time to get there. SSD and SSI can give you some time to do this.

Emilija said...

Addressing your origional question, about the 401K- if you want to get government benefits like Medicaid or reduced Medicare fees, etc., they will look at your financial assets, including your 401K. But they generally exclude your house and its equity. Which is pretty unfair for renters, but the way that it works. Homeowners can "save" in the form of their house, renters can't save significantly in any way.

Jon said...

I can't speak to a 401K, I can't manage enough money to pay bills most months. But Emilija is right, there is a limit on assets when applying for social security. We want to set up a trust fund for my bipolar son, we're worried when we're gone he won't have anyone to care for him. But that trust fund would prevent him from receiving social security. When you get closer to making that decision, you might consult an attorney experienced in disability. Or instead of a 401K buy gold or silver and bury it in the back yard...

I'm 48, and while I'm not yet ready for SSDI, I may be before retirement age. Funny, because I read "experts" that say medication will stop the progression of bipolar disorder. Bullshit. I'm often more stable day-to-day, but I'm getting worse long term. Most certainly I won't be able to work at my same level for many more years, and I hate the thought of a lower paying, but harder working position. But when I qualify for SSDI I could become active in mental health programs, take peer counseling classes, take a leisurely poke at masters degree classes, and maybe finish one of the 3 books I've started writing. It's one of those thoughts that sustain me when things get difficult. But realistically, when I get to that level am I going to be capable of doing any of this? Don't tell me otherwise and spoil my fantasy.

From reading your blog for a while, I know when you begin disability it will be your last resort course of action. You are the highest-functioning, hardest working, yet hardest hit person I've had the privilege to know through the bipolar blogosphere. I get motivation from you, seeing the way you handle money, maintain and take pride in your house, and work so hard in spite of your significant bipolar disorder.