Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, December 8, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 14



 Mountain Views News Saturday, December 8, 2012 



Dear Savvy Senior:

I have some outstanding debts and would like to find out if my Social Security checks can be garnished. 
What can you tell me? Old and Indebt

Dear Old:

Whether your Social Security benefits are garnishable 
or not depends on who you owe. Banks and 
other financial creditors, for example, can’t touch 
your Social Security checks. But if Uncle Sam is 
collecting on a debt, some of your benefits are fair 
game. Here’s what you should know.

Creditor Protections

If you have credit card debts, medical bills, unpaid 
personal loans or pay day loans, you’ll be happy to know that your Social Security benefits are safe 
from your creditors (those you owe). 

But, be aware that your creditors can still take legal action against you to recover what you owe them, 
and depending on your state’s law, they may be able to garnish your wages and tap into other allowable 
assets, if you have any. But they can’t take the money you receive from Social Security. Nor can 
they touch Supplemental Security Income (SSI), veterans benefits, federal employee and civil service 
retirement benefits, and benefits administered by the Railroad Retirement Board Administration. 

To ensure your Social Security or other government benefits are protected from creditors, you need 
to have them direct deposited into your bank account, or to a Direct Express Debit MasterCard account 
(see Benefits deposited by check into your bank account aren’t protected. Also, be 
sure you don’t transfer your benefits to another account, or else the protection is void. And don’t have 
credit cards or other loans at the bank where your benefits are deposited. Money owed to a bank, if it 
also holds the deposit account, can be frozen. 

Government Garnishment

If, however, you owe money to Uncle Sam, it’s a very different story. The federal government can 
garnish a portion of your benefits for repayment of several types of debts, including federal income 
taxes, federal student loans, child support and alimony, nontax debt owed to other federal agencies, 
defaulted federal home loans and certain civil penalties. (If you receive SSI, those benefits cannot be 
garnished under any circumstance.)

How much can actually be garnished depends on what you owe for. If you owe back taxes to the IRS, 
15 percent of your Social Security benefits can be taken each month until the debt is paid in full. The 
government uses the Federal Payment Levy Program to garnish your payments. 

If you owe money on a student loan – it doesn’t matter how long ago you were in school – the first 
$750 of your monthly benefits is off-limits to garnishment. After that, the government can shave off 
up to 15 percent. 

And if you owe past or current child or spousal support you could lose as much as 50 to 65 percent of 
your benefits. Delinquent child support and alimony cases are processed through the national Court 
Ordered Garnishment System. In these situations, the maximum reduction to your benefits depends 
on the state where you live. The garnishment is limited to either the maximum allowed under state 
law or the maximum under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, or CCPA, whichever is less. 

You also need to know that before your Social Security benefits are garnished, you’ll receive several 
letters of notice from the IRS, and be given ample opportunity to make a pay arrangement. If you 
don’t, the agency will start docking your monthly checks.

Get Help

If you believe your accounts are being frozen or garnished improperly, you’ll need to seek legal help. 
The American Bar Association provides links to free and low-cost legal help in your area at findlegalhelp.
org. Or, call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 for referrals. 

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.
org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book. 

 By Pat Birdsall

FYI: About the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP)

 Every day, specialized California Phones from the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) 
enable over half a million Californians to stay connected. There’s a phone for every need. Big 
Buttons- It’s easier to see these buttons so it’s much easier to dial your call. Amplified- Enhanced 
volume control makes it easy to hear almost every word. Flashing Light- This phone features a red 
light that flashes for incoming calls. Captioned- Allows you to read incoming conversation in text, 
plus have a moderately amplified handset to help conversations flow smoothly. Picture Dial- It’s not 
always easy to remember a number—but you never forget a face. Speed dialing is a snap with this 
phone. Speech Assist- CTAP offers a range of phones specially designed to address stuttering and 
other speech related issues.

CTAP is a program of the California Public Utilities Commission Deaf and Disabled 
Telecommunications program. It is funded by a small surcharge that appears on all telephone bills 
in California. (CA Relay Service & Communications Devices Fund.) The phones are available to 
all California residents. Individuals can receive free phone equipment with the certification of a 
medical doctor, a licensed audiologist, a qualified state agency, or a hearing aid dispenser.

Download an application and fill it out using their web site or call: 

…There are many spaces left for new plaques at the Veteran’s Memorial Wall. If you or 
a friend, family member or neighbor served in any of the United States military branches 
the criteria for inclusion is simple: You must have lived in Sierra Madre for at least one 
year sometime in your life and have a picture of yourself in uniform. Please call Dave 
Loera, Commander of VFW Post 3208, to be included and for more information: 
(626) 355-3382. We’d be proud to have you!

You can help: This week the Veteran’s group is: Paralyzed Veterans of America. For more than 65 
years, PVA has been on a mission to change lives and build brighter futures for our seriously injured 
heroes—to empower these brave men and women with what they need to achieve the things they 
fought for: freedom and independence. Please visit their website: to see how you can 


HELPFUL HINT: To easily wipe away soap scum, etc. from your chrome fixtures, simply 
pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto a cleaning cloth or a paper towel and wipe it away, you 
don’t have to apply any pressure. Alcohol kills germs and is streak free. Pretty amazing! 



When Dan found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he 
needed a woman to enjoy it with. One evening he went to a singles bar where he spotted the most 
beautiful woman he had ever seen. She took his breath away. “I may look like an ordinary man,” he 
said as he walked up to her, but in just a week or two, my father will die, and I will inherit 20 million 
dollars.” Impressed, the woman went home with him that evening and three days later, she became 
his stepmother.




Pat Karamitros, Joan Hufnagel, Marie Pedersen, Mary Alice Cervera, Carole Horejsi, Shirley Anhalt, 
Mignon Grijalva, Helen Reese, Levon Yapoujian, Toni Buckner, Bonnie Garner, Lottie Bugl, Pat 
McGuire, Sheila Woehler, Arlie Hahn, Nan Murphy, Eleanor Hensel, Sylvia Curl, Elizabeth Levie 
and Gayle Licher. *To add your name to this distinguished list, please call the paper at 626.355.2737. 
YEAR of birth not required.


Quote of the Week: Retirement means no pressure, no stress, no heartache…unless you play 
golf. ~Gene Perret~


ACTIVITIES: Unless listed differently, all activities are at the Hart Park House (Senior 
Center) 222 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre

 YMCA San Gabriel Valley Intervale Senior Café:

 Monday-Friday at 12:00 Noon

 (Participants are urged to arrive no later than 11:45 A.M.) 

 All seniors 60 and up can take part in the lunch program. There is a suggested donation 
of $2.00 for those 60 and over and $3.75 for non- senior guests. Daily reservations are 
necessary as space is limited. Please call 24 hours in advance...626.355.0256


Free Blood Pressure Testing: On the 2nd Tuesday of the month from 11:00 am-12:00 pm: A nurse from 
Methodist Hospital, Arcadia volunteers to do the readings. No appointment necessary.


Bingo: Every Tuesday afternoon from 1:00 pm- 3:00 pm Cards are only .25c each! 

Free Chair Yoga: Every Wednesday morning from 11:00 am-11:45 am. Volunteer Teryl Willis offers 
this class that focuses on senior yoga techniques. It is geared toward gentle movements, breathing 
techniques and balance improvement. No reservations are necessary.

Free Legal Consultation: Pasadena attorney Geoffrey Chin volunteers on the 2nd Wednesday of the 
month. He focuses on estate planning, trusts, wills, probate, conservatorships and business law. 
*Appointments are a must! Please call: 626.355.7394 to make yours. * Conflicting court schedules 
can occasionally cause cancellations.

Birthday Celebrations: The 2nd Thursday of the month the Senior Center celebrates the birthdays of 
our patrons at 12:30 pm. Please join us for free cake and ice cream and “celebration.” (The cakes are 
provided due to a generous donation from the Sierra Madre Civic Club.)

Game Day: Every Thursday at 1:00pm. Poker is usually the game of choice, or should I say chance? 
Board games and other card games are also available. Outside, on the patio, a beautiful, one-of-a-kind 
chess table is anxious for players.


Free Strength Training Class: Every Friday from 1:00 pm -1:45 pm Conducted by long-time volunteer 
Lisa Brandley. The class utilizes light weights for low-impact resistance training. Weights are provided 
by the Sierra Madre Senior Center. It’s a great way to stay in shape and to socialize with your peers. 
(Gossip included)

Senior Citizens Club: Every Saturday-at the Hart Park House (Senior Center) Brown bag lunch at 
11:30am; Club meeting at Noon; Bingo 12:30- 3:30 pm Only .25c per card… For more information 
call Pat at 626.355.7290


EXCURSION: California Science Center- Cleopatra Exhibit And IMAX Movie 

 (Los Angeles, Ca.)

Date: Friday, December 14, 2012

Departure: 9:00am from the Hart Park House

Lunch and Activities: 10:00am- 2:00pm

Return to Hart Park House: 3:30 pm (time approximate)

Cost: $32.00 (does not include lunch)

Come discover more than 150 priceless Egyptian artifacts that had been swallowed by the sand and 
sea after a series of earthquakes and tsunamis nearly 2,000 years ago. The exhibition features colossal 
statues, jewelry and coins from Cleopatra’s lost palace in Alexandria, and reveals the excavation 
process involved in recovering these hidden treasures. A complimentary audio tour, told in her voice, 
provides compelling insights into Cleopatra’s time.

 After the IMAX movie, patrons can either visit the other exhibits or have lunch on your own at the 
California Science Center. For more information visit their web site: 

To make reservations and to get more information call the Park House at (626) 355-7394

 Senior Movie Program: Free Movies are shown on the 2nd and 4thWednesdays of the month. 
The films, one contemporary and one vintage, are chosen by the seniors themselves. This month’s 
selections are:

December 12- White Christmas (1954) An American Holiday musical film starring 
Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney. It’s about a successful song-and-
dance team who become romantically involved with a sister act who team up to save a 
failing Vermont inn. (Songs by Irving Berlin)

December 26- Mamma Mia (2008) a musical/romantic comedy film adapted from 
the 1999 Broadway musical of the same name; based on the songs of pop group 
ABBA. Meryl Streep heads the cast, playing the role of single mother Donna Sheridan. Pierce Brosnan, 
Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard play the three possible fathers to Donna’s daughter, Sophie (Amanda 
Seyfried). Start time: 1:00 PM in Sierra Madre’s City Council Chambers, 232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.


 Regifting --it’s the sinister snake that 
slithers around nearly every Christmas. 
You know it’s tacky, yet you build a 
rationale upon the failing economy and the fact that you’ve 
received a bunch of junk that you have no intention of using.

 Walking through any store between November and 
January, you’ll find a surplus of pointless items screaming 
out, “I’m so utterly generic that you could give me to your 
girlfriend, boss, or nephew!” Typical products include 
chocolate, popcorn, coffee, tea, and lotion. (Okay, lotion’s 
probably more suited for your female recipients, but it still 
sends the message, “I have no idea what you are interested 
in, nor do I care!”). 

 It’s easy to be a commonplace regifter, but to tactfully 
“recycle” your presents, there are a few ground rules. 

1) Don’t regift in the same context. For example, if your 
coworker gives you a collection of mini coffee bags from 
Starbucks, you can’t regift it to your boss or any of your 
other coworkers. Despite the multitude of Starbucks’ 
products out there, you can’t turn around and give it to someone who might be seen by the person 
who originally gave it to you. 

2) Don’t regift handmade items. Most of us don’t do handwork or “create” any tangible objects using 
our God-given abilities. Examples of such gifts are knitted things, paintings, drawings, sculpture, and 
other works of art that take considerable time and skill to create. Anyone who doesn’t do handwork 
cannot appreciate the sweat, time, and concentration that goes into a knitted sweater, crocheted 
blanket, or sewn quilt. (Okay, you don’t have to actually DO these things, but you at least need to 
know the amount of labor that goes into them.)

 Those are the essential rules of polite regifting. But what do you do when you don’t know if 
someone is going to give you a gift? This question becomes particularly critical when you really 
don’t want the other person to feel obligated to give you anything. Therefore, you can’t give them 
something first (because then they’ll feel that they have to return the favor). But you must still be 
ready to present them with a gift if they do give one to you. This presents a quandary. The best 
solution, I’ve found, is to have a small stock of items that are appropriate for my friends/relatives/
coworkers (see aforementioned list), that are also things I would enjoy using if I never need to actually 
give them away!

 For example, if you like caramel corn or chocolate, have a couple packages ready to give to that 
unexpected friend if they surprise you by giving you something. That way, you’re covering your gift-
giving butt without wasting money on things that you’ll throw out.

 Well, that’s all the advice I have for you regarding Christmas shopping. There’s only a few weeks 
until Christmas, so keep calm and carry on. Remember, you can’t take care of others if you neglect 
taking care of yourself. So, buy a few chocolate towers and call it a night.


Since November, the Pasadena Social Security office is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. 
to 3:00 p.m. – a reduction of 30 minutes each weekday. In addition, beginning January 2, 2013, the office will close 
to the public at noon every Wednesday. 

 Most services do not require a visit. Applying for retirement, disability or Medicare benefits, signing up for 
direct deposit, replacing a Medicare card, obtaining a proof of income letter or a change of address or telephone 
number can be done online at or by calling 1-800-772-1213.Hearing impaired may call 
our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.