Q: I recently applied for a government program and became confused by the request about wages, earnings, income and assets. Do you have a definition for these categories?

A: The words “wages” and “earnings” are parts of income and differ greatly from assets.

Income is what comes into a household each month. What is left at the end of the month after all bills have been paid is considered an asset.

Wages are defined as the money paid to an employee. They are subject to Social Security taxes. Wage information should be included if a question is asked about income.

Earnings can be defined in two ways. They can be money received from employment and treated the same as wages or can be money returned from an investment — such as interest and dividends — or pension and Social Security benefits and not subject to Social Security taxes. Either definition would make that money part of an answer to a question about income.

Income is the total amount of money that comes into a household each month. It includes wages and earnings. This is the figure most often requested in a means-tested program.

Assets are what are set aside for a rainy day. They include bank accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds and insurance policies. These are known as liquid assets.

You most likely also have nonliquid assets such as a home, other real estate and automobiles. The value of all assets will also be a question on an application for a means-tested program.

Q: I know to call 911 in an emergency, but I don’t know what to expect when the operator answers. Can you go through the steps?

A: A review of the procedure will be good for everyone. You will be more effective when reporting an emergency if you know what you are likely to encounter and what will be expected of you.

The dispatcher is a professionally trained person whose responsibility is to obtain necessary information and send appropriate assistance to the scene of the emergency as quickly as possible.

The most important thing you can do when reporting an emergency is to stay calm. When you are connected with 911, you may hear a recording asking you to wait for a dispatcher. Do not hang up and try to place a second call. This will only delay the response time to the emergency you are reporting.

Calls to 911 are handled in the order received. If you hang up and redial, your call will go to the end of the line and delay the response time.

When the dispatcher comes on the line, explain your situation clearly and briefly. Speak slowly and clearly. Answers to any questions you are asked should be short and direct.

If the dispatcher gives you directions, follow them exactly. If this requires that you leave the phone, do not hang up. When you have completed what you were instructed to do, return to the phone for more instructions.

Never hang up on a 911 call until the dispatcher tells you to do so.

Call 911 any time there is an emergency. The call is free from all phones including pay phones. Nonemergency calls should never be made to 911 but should be made to the local number provided for the agency you are trying to reach.


Aug. 28: “Are You Taking Advantage of Medicare‘s Free Preventative Services?” seminar, 1-3 p.m., Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley. Call 583-6363 for information and reservations.

Sept. 9: Senior Concerns Ultimate Dining Experience at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza supporting Senior Concerns’ Meals on Wheels and adult day care programs. Call 497-0189 or visit https://www.seniorconcerns.org for information or to make reservations.

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