Dear Heloise: When I pass away, what happens to my Social Security number? Does it get reassigned to someone else? Just wondering. — Elsa W. in Illinois

Elsa, that’s absolutely a great question. The Social Security Administration ( does not reappoint a Social Security number to someone else after the original owner’s death.

The SSA estimates that there are enough new number combinations to last well into the next several generations.

By the way, since its inception, there have been over 450 million Social Security numbers issued! — Heloise

Medical records

Dear Readers: After you’re discharged from an emergency hospital stay, you can ask for a copy of your medical records. Call the hospital administrator; there may be a charge for them.

Your regular doctor will want to look it over to see what you’ve had done. — Heloise

Gift card balance

Dear Heloise: When I receive a gift card, I know how much is on it. Since the cards are usually not reloadable, each time I use one, I write the remaining balance on the front.

This way, I always know how much is on it. Then I just throw it away when empty. — Susan W. in Ohio

Readers, some cards are reloadable; check to see if you can add money to the card! — Heloise

Dressed and ready

Dear Heloise: When we have company coming for a three- or four-day stay, I get my outfits all laid out and ready for each day.

This way, I can be dressed and ready and in the kitchen to make coffee, breakfast, etc. — Corrinne B., Universal City, Texas

Such a lovely hostess, Corrinne! Great plan for the holiday season ahead! — Heloise

The ‘hole’ truth

Dear Heloise: Regarding a recent hint about putting holes in plastic bags that hold vegetables: There are large vegetable bags with freshness vents (holes already in the bag). I ordered some online. This way, I don’t have to spend time poking holes in my bags. — Lori in Minnesota

Lori, you can also wrap a head of lettuce, broccoli or cauliflower, for example, in paper toweling when first home from the market to reduce moisture and keep it fresh longer. — Heloise

Two tips

Dear Heloise: I use paper coffee filters to cover foods that need to be warmed up in the microwave.

Also, I use cat litter in old trunks for the smell — three cups spread out in the trunk, and close for four to five days. — Dee H., St. Charles, Minnesota

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to

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