The final passport rule, home state considerations, finding a post-retirement job, and other tidbits to keep you informed.
By Janet Groene, F47166
June 2008 FMC magazine
Sometimes it’s hard to keep an ear to the ground when you live on the go. Legislation in a state far away could affect your plans for next year’s travels. Insurance or tax rate changes in your “home” state could wreck your budget. Today’s weather disasters could wipe out the campground where you’d planned to spend next season. Here are news items you may have missed in the media.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State recently issued the final rule on land and sea travel into the United States. Beginning on June 1, 2009, all travelers must present a passport or other approved secure document denoting citizenry and identity to enter the United States. Previously, citizens of the United States, Canada, and Bermuda had been exempt from these document requirements. However, since January 31, 2008, when the allowance for oral declarations ended, U.S. and Canadian citizens age 19 and older have been required to present proof of identity and citizenship when entering the United States. Children 18 and under currently are asked to present proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. It isn’t too soon to apply for a passport (or approved secure document, as applicable) in preparation for the June 1, 2009, effective date. Processing has been slow due to the flood of applicants, so it’s a good idea to start early so you’re not in a rush. Passports are fairly expensive and the application procedure cumbersome, but we’ve always found our passports to be useful as the ultimate identification, even within the United States. For more information about passport issues, visit www.travel.state.gov/passport.
Home Base Update
For those who want to maximize rights and benefits while minimizing taxes and insurance costs, choosing a home base is one of the most difficult parts of full-timing. Many people don’t realize that Medicare supplement policies are priced according to your “home” city. Identical coverage, even within the same state, can vary by thousands of dollars a year.
Go to www.medicare.gov and enter various zip codes to do comparison shopping. If you’re constantly on the go, beware of signing up for “preferred provider” insurers whose participating doctors and hospitals are found in only one city or region. In many places, especially sparsely populated areas, health care providers and hospitals may not accept the new, highly advertised Medicare Advantage medical-plus-pharmacy plans. To compare costs for Medicare Part D drug coverage, which is priced state by state, go to the insurer’s drug formulary and click on your “home” state.
Homeschoolers, Take Note
On February 28, 2008, the Second Appellate Court of Los Angeles County, California, ruled that a family from Southern California did not have the right to homeschool its children unless one of the parents was a credentialed teacher. The opinion seemed to say that all forms of homeschooling by a person who did not hold a California teaching degree were illegal.
Homeschooling organizations, educational groups, and politicians criticized the legality of the ruling. On March 26, the parents were granted a request for a rehearing, thereby vacating the prior decision. The court expects to hold a hearing on the case again in June, with a written decision issued several months later. For updates from the Home School Association of California, go to www.hsc.org.
Texting For Health
If you’re into text messaging, your cell phone can provide instant information about the restaurant meal you’re about to order. Nutrition on the Go is a free service from www.diet.com. With your cell phone in text mode, type in the name of the restaurant; the menu item; and, if applicable, the size of the portion; and send the message to DIET1 (34381). In return, you will receive a text message detailing the number of calories, plus grams of fat, carbohydrates, and protein in the specified food item.
For example, text “McDonalds Fruit Parfait” to DIET1 and you’ll receive a message that reads: Cal: 160, Fat: 2g, Carb: 31g, Protein: 4g.” The service has listings for more than 36,000 foods from 1,700 restaurants in North America. For an online demonstration, go to www.diet.com/mobile.
In The Cards
If you frequent authentic ethnic restaurants or travel to foreign countries, you understand how difficult it can be to communicate special food-related issues you may have to the wait staff. To help bridge these communication gaps, a company called SelectWisely publishes a group of food and travel translation cards that can be used by folks who have food allergies, must maintain a gluten-free diet, have diabetes or other medical conditions, are lactose intolerant, or are vegetarians. The cards are available in numerous languages, and special-order cards can be produced in languages that are not part of the standard inventory. Cards are also available to explain allergies to penicillin, bee stings, iodine, latex, and more. For information, visit www.selectwisely.com or call (888) 396-9260.
An All-New You?
Baby boomers aren’t retiring as early as their parents did. Many keep working, because they have careers they love. Hundreds more are changing careers by taking up photography or buying a campground, inn, or vineyard. Whether you have to work to make ends meet or you just want to work along the way to keep your senses sharp and your resume up-to-date, the Web site www.retirementjobs.com may be your guide to finding the right job in the right place at the right time.
Based on factors such as employment for older workers, local medical care, affordable living costs, and so on, the site lists numerous opportunities for seniors in search of work. According to AARP, senior-friendly employers include bookseller Borders and electronics retailer Best Buy. For complete lists of suggested cities and employers, see the Retirement Jobs Web site.
Other Web sites that specialize in matching people over age 50 with jobs or service opportunities include www.workforce50.com, www.retiredbrains.com, www.yourencore.com (for retired scientists and engineers), and www.seniorcorps.org. In addition, Bridgetstar (www.bridgestar.org) searches for executives to work for nonprofit organizations.
Recycle With Ease
Today’s electronics break down or become obsolete at head-spinning speed. Now Sony makes it easier to dispose of its products responsibly. To find a free Sony recycling drop-off center near your route, go to www.sony.com/recycle. The company promises 150 sites nationwide in time for the phasing out of old-style TVs early in 2009.
Dozens of organizations, many of them nonprofits, hope you’ll donate other castoffs. Some items are sold to benefit the organization; others are distributed to people who can use them. Go to www.collectivegood.com to see where you can drop off cell phones, pagers, and personal digital assistants.
My personal recycling crusade is to start a Leave One, Take One book box or shelf at every campground that will accept the idea. It’s a good way to keep our own library filled with fresh material while passing along books we have finished. Depending on the campground, there also may be a use for a Help Yourself magazine box, an Honor Bar DVD exchange, or a Community Toy Box. Trash disposal is a major expense at campgrounds today, so it’s in full-timers’ interest to minimize trash and maximize reusable items.