By Betty Berry, Nov. 29, 2011

QUESTION: Even though money is tight, my friends and I would like to give to charities in our community that really are helping those in need. Do you have suggestions?

ANSWER: You must be on the same wavelength as the Thousand Oaks Council on Aging.

The council will present speakers from Many Mansions, Lutheran Social Services and Habitat for Humanity, with moderator Rob Orth from Project Understanding, at its monthly meeting Dec. 7. The speakers will discuss the services they provide.

This presentation will provide ways to give and serve in an economy like the present one and offer advice on giving a hand up and not a handout. Discover how giving your time, talent and treasure will have meaningful results for the recipient and you.

The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. at the Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., in the boardroom on the third level.

Also, a “Meet the Speakers” reception is planned from noon to 12:45 p.m. Reservations are requested for the reception. Call 449-2743.

QUESTION: While paying into Social Security, I have had several name changes. How can I determine whether my earnings records are accurate?

ANSWER: I asked the Social Security Administration to explain what it does when it gets an earnings report that does not match the name and Social Security number in the files.

The agency tries to find the correct record to which to credit the earnings. It checks for common errors such as use of nicknames, misspellings, or transposition of letters or numbers. If these methods fail, it tries to contact the worker or employer to resolve the discrepancy. If earnings remain unassignable, they are placed in a “suspense” file, but investigation continues.

You can help ensure accurate records. When a name change occurs, contact Social Security so it can update its records. If you change jobs, use the same name with each employer. Avoid using nicknames on your payroll records and review your W-2 form to make sure your employer has your correct name and Social Security number.

Review personal earnings statement that Social Security provides each year. Contact Social Security if you find an error.

QUESTION: At the end of your column, you provide information on how to contact you and ask that the questioner include a telephone number. Why?

ANSWER: Most questions can’t be answered with a general response. With a number, I can call to ask more questions. This eliminates the need to email back and forth and allows a faster response.


The annual open enrollment period for Medicare enrollees to change their health care coverage and prescription drug coverage for 2012 will end Dec. 7. The plans you have Dec. 7 will be yours for 2012.

If you need to change your coverage, counseling will be available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Monday at the Area Agency on Aging, 646 County Square Drive in Ventura. Call 800-434-0222 for more information.

Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call 495-6250 or email (please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.

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