I took the evaluations to heart and spent the summer reorganizing the syllabus and making different selections of material to read that was much more accessible and understandable. I spent another semester teaching one course of Comp II and felt that it went much better than the first—the students didn’t seem to struggle nearly as much as my earlier ones had. I was well on my way to enjoying myself in the classroom again.
Not too surprisingly, I was able to keep my benefits while teaching because the pay was woefully inadequate. They were paying the same amount per class as they had been paying eighteen years before when I first applied to teach there when I moved to Brandon. A few semesters later, the pay was raised, but I could still teach up to three classes a semester and stay under the earnings threshold for continuing my benefits. I pay taxes and Social Security on my earnings—I am not paid in cash or under the table so I am staying within the law working on a part-time basis.
That is an important consideration for people who wish to return to work while on Social Security benefits. Important aspects to remember are the earnings threshold, the fact that you can continue to draw benefits for a three-year trial work period, and the fact that your Medicare benefits can extend even longer even if your Social Security benefits have to stop.
Supplemental Security Income has much different rules, ruling out almost any work while drawing benefits. Check with the local Social Security office to see what those rules are currently, since the earnings threshold changes just about every year.
I’m now teaching two classes a year of Introduction to Creative Writing for a homeschooling co-op in my area as well. Keeping the work low-stress has been the key to my being able to hold down the job. Only working two or three days a week has been a good schedule for me thus far. If I can keep out of the hospital, I may entertain the thought of going full-time with the college in the future. I’ll have to pray long and hard about that—seeing how the benefits and pay would stack up against whatever extra stress I would go through teaching more classes and taking on other administrative tasks that go with full-time professoring. Or I may find some other work altogether. I just know I need to seek God’s counsel and find out what he has in store for me next!