Saturday, 20 February 2016

The CPP and a nickel will get me lunch







My life -- or should I say my career -- flashed before my eyes yesterday as I got down to apply for my Canada Pension.

I want to take it when I turn 60 in July instead of waiting for the full amount in five years. I've seen too many people get to pension age, then croak a year later. I'm not taking any chances.

As expected, my contribution form is a hot mess. From 1974, when I first started working part-time to now, I only maxed out my contributions 12 times. Usually, I was too poor to qualify, and so the other 32 years were marked "S" for sad and self-employed and "B" for below average.

I felt like I was back in public school and I was failing.

So my CPP will be a drop in the bucket, and the only person who will benefit will be Scott, at which point I will be dead. He'll have just enough money to incinerate my old ass, while he's enjoying his CBC pension (paltry because he's splitting it with his ex-wife), his Old Age and his maximum CPP.

I feel like such a fucking loser.

I did find a glimmer of hope in the section called Child Rearing Provision which is the government's way of throwing a bone to mothers or really, really unfortunate fathers. That provision says that I will get credit for having dropped out, or down, for a few years when my kids were under seven. Yay!

Nope, this won't help me because those were the years I made the most income. It was during those years when I was still married, and I had a nanny, and I was raking it in between writing speeches for Cabinet ministers and writing the Kodak Canada strategy to save the company from the big bad digital wolf. (They should have listened to me, and that's why you never hear the name Kodak, anymore.)

Looking over these forms, it's pretty clear that the government doesn't have the first clue about the lives of single moms who are struggling to raise children on their own while their ex-husbands are building other families.

For a few years after my husband left me with the kids, I was a broken human being who lived off my savings so nope, I didn't qualify for CPP in those years.

Then I squeaked by taking part-time work because I had three needy children. Those were the happy years when I lived in a crappy house where my kids slept in rooms with snowdrifts coming in the window. We actually lost that house because the bank wouldn't renew my mortgage even though I was making all my payments on time. I think my ex was Vice-President of Alcan in those years.

Then came the happy teenage years when Marissa was running the roads, Nick was on the street and Stef spent most of his school years chasing the worm at the bottom of the tequila bottle. Didn't get much work done in those years, either.

When the kids finally left, I was fortunate to meet Scott who pretty much paid for everything while I toiled in the not-for-profit ghetto, working for rich doctors. From 2004 to 2006, I made pretty good money, enough to max my CPP AND put some money back into savings. Then I got laid off and I haven't found full time work since. If I'm not wrong, I could refer to that period in my life as the Harper Valley Years.

Now, I'm turning 60 and it's not looking good on the CPP front. I'm still working in the not-for-profit ghetto, still squeaking by, hoping that Scott doesn't drop dead on me. If he does I'm screwed and tattooed again. I'll get half his CPP roughly $350 a month, and enough money to bury his ass. But wait: did I mention that I don't qualify to get a survivor's benefit from his CBC pension - less his ex-wife's share -- even though we've been together 14 years?

Sucks to be me.

I feel like eating chocolate-dipped cotton balls and chasing them down with drain cleaner. Thank goodness, the government is pushing through doctor-assisted suicide! Now that's a cause I can get behind.

Seriously, I'm hoping that Justin Trudeau will take pity on me and bring in a guaranteed $18,000 a year minimum for every Canadian so people like me, who have nothing to show for all the work they've done, all the child-rearing they've performed, don't step in front a train somewhere.

Alas, I think there's about as much chance of the Liberal introducing a guaranteed income as there is them balancing the budget in my life time.

Pass the tequila, Sheila.


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