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Oh, my...

First, you didn't exactly "work hard all your life"--you were on publicly funded (maybe also employer funded?) disability by age 59, and possibly younger. And yes, you can thank previous Democratic Congresses for your SSDI. Watch out for Republican Congresses--they want to take it away or at least reduce your income. You can also thank a Democratic Congress and President if your wife will get half of your Social Security benefit (if she didn't earn more than that on her own work record--as I did).

How nice that you like to make your own decisions, with luck, that will continue. But with COPD/emphysema, you get less oxygen than your brain requires for optimal function. So I suspect the decisions you make are getting worse over time. COPD also makes it very hard to exercise, so you may be overweight and have cardiovascular problems. I can understand your paranoia about someone taking away your health care. But it's the GOP, not President Obama, who'd like to replace Medicare with a voucher system--good luck covering even the premiums with a voucher designed for people without serious health problems.

My FIL died of COPD/emphysema, my uncle has it now, and it's no picnic so you have my sympathy, even if you did bring on yourself by smoking. Uncle was fit, slender and athletic and just a light to moderate smoker, but COPD/emphysema finally caught up with him in his 70s. He's in his 80s now, has had quadruple bypass surgery and two stents, and very lucky he is to have a healthy, hard-working much younger wife to take care of him and run her own business partially from home to bring in enough money to cover his needs. He became a Fox News watcher since becoming pretty much house-bound, so he thinks like you. I blame the oxygen deprivation as well Roger Ailes & friends.

We also own our house free & clear, but I attribute that to luck as much as hard work--after all, I took about 10 years off as a SAHM, then worked part-time for about another 10 years, and also retired 10 years early at age 55, so a lotta zeroes in my Social Security calculation! Even so, I earned about 3/4 as much SS as my husband, and he worked from his freshman year in college to age 63--over 40 years. We worked in the software industry during much of its heyday--we worked hard, but being in this industry was lucky, too.

My husband had to retire due to disability last December. He started Social Security in April and was approved for SSDI last month. We thank the Democratic party every month when our checking account receives his SS and SSDI (and more besides when I start my SS this fall).

But we are fighting with our health insurance company (he's too young for Medicare) to cover the tests that pinpointed and now monitor his condition (logopenic primary progressive aphasia, a rare form of dementia). Funny, they paid his doctor for his time explaining the results to him, but not for the hours of testing itself. He's supposed to get retested every 3 months at about $1500 a pop in expense uncovered by insurance. The finance clerk sez Medicare pays this, but he's 64, so not yet. Who's got the death panels, again--government or insurance companies?! I think we will postpone his next battery of tests till he starts Medicare next spring, saving $3,000 that I would rather spend making my husband happy in what cognitive time he has left.

PS--I am also ticked off at Obama, but for something he actually proposed, not something imaginary from a campaign smear. Obama has proposed that chained-CPI mechanism for reducing the annual COLA in SS & SSDI income. Booooo!

PPS--What is your biggest expense in retirement? Ours is health care.
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