DEAR AMY: When I moved to my new home a few years ago, my neighbor told me that she'd had multiple back surgeries. She is in her mid-50s and does not work. She does, however, shovel three feet of snow from her roof, uses a rototiller in her yard, lugs mounds of leaves, etc. From conversations and from what I've witnessed, it is my understanding that she is on disability. It is disturbing to be contributing financially for her welfare via my tax dollars, when it is obvious that she's very able-bodied. Additionally, she is an ever-present annoyance who is unable to respect boundaries, even after we've repeatedly asked her to respect our space. One of her dogs bit my husband in our yard. She can be spiteful and has temper tantrums. The bottom line is that it's highly likely that I contribute to her well-being (through disability), just so she can make our lives uncomfortable. I'd like your take on this. I've taken a few photos showing her physical abilities — just in case. Should I bring it to the attention of the Department of Social Security? I suspect this is a common issue facing many people.
DEAR NEIGHBOR: Your neighbor's back surgeries have evidently been successful — hence her impressive physical abilities. You suspect (but don't know) that she is on disability, but, if so, understand that her disability payments might be unrelated to her back surgeries, but related to a different illness or disability.
This is from the HHS.gov website: "You can report disability fraud to the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of Inspector General Hotline at:1-800-269-0271 or the website: oig.ssa.gov (do a keyword search for "fraud, waste, and abuse").
You could also send a report by mail to: Social Security Fraud Hotline/PO Box 17785/ Baltimore, MD 21235.
The Office of Inspector General encourages people to report suspected fraud, waste, and abuse of tax dollars. I assume this office relies heavily on suspicious, spiteful, or fed-up neighbors, family members, or former colleagues to do so. I don't see this as a particularly challenging ethical dilemma, but I suggest you do your best to get your facts straight before filing your report.
DEAR AMY: An opportunity has presented itself, and I'm not sure if I am wrong to want to pursue it — or how to handle it. My husband and I might have the opportunity to pick up a new job a few hours away from where we currently live. This would require a move to where we would be closer to friends and family. We've both talked about this before, but we haven't committed to relocating yet. The issue is that, although I am nervous about the whole thing, I can't pin down whether my husband really wants to go or is just placating me with a yes and then hoping I forget about it. We've discussed the pros and cons of this move, and his major worry is starting over at a new job after six years at our current jobs. While I'm not keen to start a new job, this move is something I've been wanting for the past couple years now, and this time around, it just seems right to me. I'm not sure if I should keep bringing it up to him and don't know how to approach it.
DEAR ADULTING: Partners often placate one another. There are worse ways to behave.
Relocating is challenging, even when it is something you overall want to do.
One way to "adult" your way through this would be to set out on a journey together over a weekend to the proposed new location. Use the car ride to go over your pros and cons list, spend time exploring the options as you perceive them, and give your husband plenty of room to express himself freely without you pushing or prompting. His adult job is to be honest regarding his own reactions and concerns.
Ideally, when faced with huge life choices, couples will hold hands and make the leap together. But sometimes, one partner is squeezing a little harder.
DEAR AMY: Thank you for your thoughtful response concerning "A from Minnesota," who is grieving her father's death. I would like to suggest that another source of support would be grief/bereavement groups offered my most hospice organizations (whether the deceased was cared for by hospice or not) and many churches.
A Hospice Social Worker
DEAR SOCIAL WORKER: Thank you. Grief groups are an essential route toward healing for many people.