A Couple Reasons Not To Die
Waldo Smedley, longtime resident of the Bay and also one of the nicest geezers that trod the paths here, lost his his wife of 65 years, his beloved Wilbeana Bob, this past June. Unfortunately, Wilbeana Bob had contracted a nasty lung cancer some years ago giving her a one way ticket to the next level. The couple fought tooth and nail to hold off the encroaching cancer, diagnosed a year earlier, with months of radiation and chemo therapy, but all for nothing as the cancer was far too advanced for these treatments to have any curative or remissive effects. (It turns out that Wilbeana’s lifelong passion for smoked venison was identified by the coroner as the causative carcinogenic of her lung cancer.) Wilbeana had a great sendoff at the local Baptist church leaving Waldo alone to move ahead strengthened by sweet memories covering many years of a good marriage. Until…….
Before Wilbeana passed, the Smedleys both on disability, had few financial worries as their social Security disability payments, though very modest, were enough for them to get by on, living in a comfortable and reasonable rent home on a quiet street here in the Bay. The heavy medical costs for people in the age bracket of the Smedleys was covered by Medicaid, the paradise of all medical coverage. The government in its benovelence picked up all the tabs for their medical expenses – doctors, drugs, hospitals, rides – including Waldo’s ongoing diabetic medicines to say nothing of the costs of Wilbeana’s lung cancer treatments. There was no way in all of God’s green acres that the Smedleys’ income could have covered a fraction of their medical expenses and especially so if the insurance premiums and the deductibles were added in.
Wilbeana’s disability, a dislocated knee, came as a result of tripping over a third grader while on the job as a crossing guard in Damascus. Waldo’s crippling misfortune came when he was working a weedeater as a part of a roadside mower crew when he got nailed by a rock spun out of a large rotary mower working across the road. These injuries occurred when the both the Smedleys were in their fifties, keeping them on the sidelines right up to Wilbeana’s departure.
After a few lonely weeks, Waldo, with Wilbeana’s death certificate in hand, made his way to the Social Security office in Searcy to start the paperwork so as to receive the “Survivors Benefits” due him from Wilbeana’s Social Security Earnings Record and Account. Waldo was thrilled to learn that these benefits would amount to $1045 per month, far more than Wilbeana’s monthly disability payment of $480. The comely Social Security lady clerk told Waldo that he would receive in a day or so, a letter outlining all the details and that the new amounts would start in one month. Oh Happy Day!, sang Smedley.
Ten days later, the letter came. Oh Not so Happy Day!, cried Waldo. The letter informed him that because of the new and larger Social Security payments Smedley was to receive, that he was no longer entitled to be covered by Medicaid, as his income was now too high to qualify for this program! In addition, the Medicare Part B monthly premium of $104.90, would no longer be paid by Medicaid and that Smedley had to now pay this. Likewise, the Part D, Prescription Coverage of Medicare also called for an insurance policy which would cost one arm and one leg – all coming out of Smedley’s pocket! And the final blow was to learn that the 20% of medical charges not covered by Part B, would require Smedley to buy expensive Supplemental Insurance as offered by such tender-hearted companies as Humana, AARP, and Blue Cross. Ouch!
When last seen, Smedley was at the Van Buren County Courthouse holding a legal document seeking to exhume Wilbeana and to hopefully find that she was still alive and things could be as they were and that the government would please forget about the Survivors Benefits!