Friday, November 23, 2012

Our Government at Work

I had two encounters today in the span of about 10 minutes with two government entities, and neither one of them was pleasant.  No, I was not pulled over by a police officer for speeding or for any other infraction.  In fact, there were no police involved at all.  Both of the encounters took place in the same transaction, as it were.

First, let me recount an event from earlier in the month.  In a previous post, I had recounted how my autistic son is eligible for SSI benefits.  Since he is living at home, and not paying rent or for his own food, the Social Security Administration determined that he was receiving in kind support from us and reduced his eligible benefit by one third.  In the post, I discussed possibly charging him rent in order for him to get his full benefit.

In October, I wrote a letter to the Social Security Administration asking them to reconsider the reduction in his benefit.  We informed them that he was using the money to purchase his own food, which amounted to about $200 per month.  We also were going to start charging him rent of $300 per month.  Shortly after sending the letter, I received a letter from Social Security saying they wanted to review his file and eligibility.

That appointment was scheduled for November 7th.  I brought all of the documents that were requested and went to the meeting.  The meeting itself went fairly well.  I explained the situation of how we needed our son to begin contributing to the household expenses.  The woman I met with ended the meeting by telling me that our son would begin receiving his full benefit on December 1st.

Grumman LLV photographed in USA.
Grumman LLV photographed in USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A week or so ago, I received one of the regular communications that we get from Social Security regarding my son's benefit.  That letter said that their would be no change in his benefit amount.  I called Social Security and was told that there would be no change for December, but January 1st would be the full amount.  This was no problem as I was originally told it would take three months to make the change.

This brings me to today and my two encounters.  I was leaving the house to go to my pizza delivery gig when I saw the mail truck at our mailboxes.  I opened our mailbox and there was a card saying there was a certified letter for my son that they were unable to deliver because we weren't home.  Fortunately, the truck was still in the parking lot so I approached the mailman.

I asked him what time the post office closed so that I could go pick up the certified letter.  He replied that he had it right there in the truck.  He didn't try to deliver it to our house because our outside light was on, and he assumed we weren't home.  Well, you know the old saying about when you ASSume something.  No wonder the post office is losing money.
Seal of the United States Social Security Admi...
Seal of the United States Social Security Administration. It appears on Social Security cards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I signed for the letter and went inside.  It was a new letter from Social Security.  At the top was written "Second and Final Notice."  It also went on to say that they needed to see me to discuss my son's case and that if they didn't see or hear from me before November 30th, that they might stop paying my son's benefit.  Needless to say, my first thought was, "WTF?"

I can only hope that the letter from Social Security is a clerical error that can be cleared up with a phone call.  The letter was requesting the exact the same information that I had taken with me to the last meeting.  I really can't afford to take another day off to try to clear this up when I already had a meeting with them.

The thing that really steams me is the postman.  Had he not still been in the parking lot of our townhouse complex, I would not have gotten the letter today.  If I hadn't seen the truck, I most likely would not have gone out to get the mail. I am not sure that I would have been able to get to the post office tomorrow to get the letter since I have to work early tomorrow.  I know that I would not have been able to pick it up during the regular week.  His assumption, and really his laziness in not doing his job properly, could have been disastrous for us.

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  1. I'm really glad you managed to avoid this disaster. A little effort goes a long way in this age of poor customer service.

  2. I hope you are actually able to call your local Social Security office. The last two times I tried to call ours, I was greeted by a computerized message that said that most problems could be resolved online and then transferred to a national call center, who had no idea why our local office had done what they did. By the time the matter was resolved, I discovered that I had been receiving letters from our local office and a regional one in Kansas City, with both of them informing me that I needed to send different things to a Philadelphia office. I wonder how much money could be saved each year with just duplication of work being eliminated?

    1. I finally got to speak with somebody today who was able to help, thought I left messages for three days with the person whose name was on the letter and the person I met with. Neither one of which returned my calls



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