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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Happy New Year?

When the world was greeting one another with Happy New Year, we got one with a big question mark. It was a Notice of Planned Action from the Social Security Administration informing us, a couple entering  their 80s, that the Federal Government contribution to our SSI payments will be reduced to almost nil in the new year. Even if they had not called it a Planned Action, it seemed so obviously  well planned to be delivered to us on or around the New Year Day, mailed on December 29, 2012. It was indeed too severe a shock to start the New Year with, and, of course, far beyond our imagination that the concerned government officer could go that far to be so insensitive to senior citizens, especially when he is serving an office which was formed  only to help the financially insecure senior citizens. The reason to reduce our SSI payments was that the officer counted our combined total income to be $1000.00 in December 2012 where as we had $0.00 income in this month and throughout the period prior to this ever since we became eligible to get SSI benefits in March 2006. At that time the Administration deducted 1/3rd of the payable amount  from our SSI money as part of our apartment rent was paid by our son to help us, which was taken as value of food, clothing, or shelter in figuring our payment. Nothing had changed since then and our son continued to partly pay for our apartment and the Administration continued to deduct 1/3rd from the SSI amount. Now after six years, the concerned officer has suddenly treated this help from our son as our income and deducted the full amount from the payment we are eligible. And this decision despite what the Administration itself clarifies so clearly on its official website:

The Official Website of the U.S. Social Security Administration
Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Spotlight on Living Arrangements -- 2012 Edition
What if someone else helps pay my living expenses?
Any food or shelter you get from someone else that you do not pay for may reduce your SSI benefit.
There is a limit on how much food and shelter we may count. The limit is one–third of the maximum Federal SSI amount payable for a month, plus $20.

We are not sure how many other senior citizens may have been greeted with similar shocking New Year messages from over enthusiastic government officers, going over board doing their bit to reduce budget deficit, but even if we are the only ones, President Obama needs to know so that such an insensitive treatment of senior citizens is immediately stopped.


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