Medicare, Obama Care — or No Care... Everyone needs to be planning for a long life to make sure it's a happy and productive one

As a long time retiree I can just about remember my family's physician with his black bag making a house call. In those days it was not strange to have a grandparent living with you. Today it’s not strange to have a son or daughter with a large college loan still living with you.

Retired teacher Lou Pyster was the lone public participation witness at the December 12, 2012 meeting of the trustees of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF). Substance photo by George N Schmidt.For most of my life I’ve been blessed with relatively good health. As I got older along with my friends there were times I was in need of professional medical services. The days of the house call doctor are long gone. He has been replaced with the emergency room, storefront physician and the medical office visit. Oh yes! None of this is free.

When I was first assigned as a Chicago teacher in 1952 at a salary of $2,900 a year before taxes with no benefits I was ready for a union. One of my primary goals (as a future pension trustee) was to help provide medical supplements to the teacher retirees. As the years went by and more teachers retired, medical costs escalated — and the supplement kept decreasing.

The need for some form of medical insurance for the average employed or retired family is imperative. Whatever you wish to call this medical insurance is not as important as the need to have it. In the last few years I have had both knees replaced, my right hip replaced, cataracts removed and a carpal tunnel procedure on my left hand.

My wife has also had both knees replaced. Along with these are the various procedures such as colonoscopies, blood tests etc. I’m thankful that after all of these procedures I can still ride my motorcycle and my family is not broke. I feel that if we can bail out the auto industry and the banks we can keep the people that work in these areas solvent.

If we can bail out the auto industry and the banks we can keep the people that work in these areas solvent.

When you retire you may think life gets less expensive. From personal experience I can definitely say you are wrong. You still may have with less total income dental, medical; auto, mortgage, and children that have returned home to be taken care of until they find a position. Have you noticed that many graduates are asking first, “Does this position include benefits?”

Four of the elected teacher trustees of the CTPF flank attorney Joe Burns at the December 12, 2012 meeting of the trustees. Left to right: Ray Wohl, Lois Ashford (vice president), Jay Rehak (president), Joseph Burns, and Tina Padilla. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.As I write this article on Election Day 2012 I am still convinced that whomever is elected I will still have to solve many of my problems by myself.

Much of a good retirement involves prior planning. There is still even with good prior planning the unexpected will occur. I planned well but when my son-in-law came down with Parkinson I suddenly had a daughter and three children to help.

There is no way to prior plan for these and other emergencies than to handle them.

As a former pension trustee I was asked many times, “When should I start planning my retirement?” I always replied, “The minute you get your first job.” The job of protecting your pension is an ongoing procedure that the CTU, RTAC and the pension trustees have done great work with. I always felt that politicians felt that their first duty was to first protect their pensions and secondary get reelected — and if they have more time to take care of me.

It’s difficult to talk to young teachers regarding retirement when many are living paycheck to paycheck and are still in debt. I have some friends my age that have never gotten themselves out of debt.

I have been writing for Substance for a quarter century or so. I had to take some time off from that while dealing with my medical challenges.

I’m beginning to write again as health and conditions improve. I have enjoyed my experiences as a school delegate, House of Delegates, Elementary Functional V.P., Vice-President Teachers Pension Fund and writing for Substance.

With all the above I still have to say. “God bless this country” and Happy Holidays to everyone.


December 13, 2012 at 8:42 AM

By: Jean Schwab

How True!

Al is telling it like it is. We still have a battle ahead to protect what is left.

December 14, 2012 at 4:29 AM

By: Jim Vail

Nice Touch!

AL - Great article. Very clear on how important pensions are and how life is when retired. We need people like you to help educate our teaching force on how important pensions are. Thanks to you and Substance for reporting this and helping to educate everyone!

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