Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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DR.JOB: Think Before Taking SSI

By Sandra Pesmen

(Q.1.)I WAS WIDOWED LAST YEAR and because I was only 59 and still working, I didn't look into Social Security benefits. But now I'm dating a man who has asked me to marry him and I'm hesitating because I don't want to lose those benefits. All our other money is in trusts with wills designating our children. Will either of us lose our SS benefits if we marry?

(ANS)  BECAUSE YOU ARE SO YOUNG THERE are a few reasons for not touching SS yet, but marriage isn't one of them. In her recent article on, Certified Financial Planner Jane Young explained you have the choice of your SS or your spouse's, taking whichever is larger. You can begin taking it at age 60 but it's wise to wait as long as possible if you continue to work and cover your bills because it increases with time. She adds that generally, you cannot get survivor's benefits if you remarry before age 60. After age 60 remarriage does not impact your survivor's benefits. At age 62 you are entitled to benefits based on a new spouse's work record, if those would be higher. If other family members are entitled to survivor's benefits, be aware that there is a limit to the total amount that can be paid to a family. Consider all these factors and call SS for verification and more information.

(Q.2) IT'S SO FRUSTRATING to work as a nurse day after day, overworked and understaffed. I'd like to move into management and have taken advanced courses, but I feel there's something I'm missing about getting promoted here or in any medical center.

(ANS) AS IN ANY PROFESSION, there are rules for getting ahead, and often they are "silent rules" that no one tells you. Finally someone has: In their new book Claiming the Corner Office, RNs Connie Curran and Therese Fitzpatrick, give some tips for getting ahead in their profession. All the nurse leaders they spoke to found their greatest success came though being open to new opportunities and options that invariably present themselves. It's possible you've been missing those. It will involve some risk-taking, they add, but if you're broad in your interests and the way you invest your time and talent, you can take risks because if it doesn't work out, something else in your life will.  In addition to their advice, remember power is never given, it always is taken, so watch for any opportunity to make your supervisors notice you and make them aware of any important, excellent work you do. Also, continue to take courses toward an advanced degree in administration. That is one of the fastest tracks upstairs in most professions.

(Q.3) I OFTEN GO OUT FOR DINNER with co-workers after work and when they are in couples, and I'm single, I have trouble paying my share. They sometimes tell me to forget it, other times they tell me the amount of my meal and if I don't have exact bills, I'm embarrassed. How do I make this easier? 

(ANS) SINCE MOST OF US GET those $20 bills from the ATM machines, go inside and ask the teller to give you smaller bills. Do the same whenever you shop to make sure you always DO have smaller bills to pay any check share easily. Another option is to hand YOUR credit card to the waiter and ask the others to pay you. Similarly, if you feel others have paid for you too often and won't let you reciprocate, go to the restroom and on the way give your card to the waiter and tell him or her to use that with the check. There won't be arguments after that done deal.

(Q.4). MY FORMER COLLEAGUES ARE PLANNING A REUNION luncheon next month, ten years after our former company closed. I want to invite some of the people who provided a variety of services to us there and became good friends. But I have the feeling my former colleagues want to keep this event private. I wonder if I have to book another restaurant on another day to meet with those others. 

(ANS) SINCE IT'S A LUNCHEON, invite your friends to join you at that venue that day at the time the event is set to end. You can sit at the bar and visit, they can order food if they want to, and it's a strong possibility that a lot of those co-workers will stay to join you when they see how much fun you're having.


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