Experiencing how the government works firsthand offers insight into whether we should allow some of the presidential candidates’ plans to further expand the federal government’s responsibilities. My recent encounter with the Social Security system defines everything we need to know about how our government functions. Let’s just say that my wife by happenstance had an appointment with the DMV the same morning and remarkably hers was a far superior experience.
Under direction of some experts on Social Security (SS) I planned to file for spousal benefits from my wife and then at age seventy take my full benefits. This program expires for anyone born after January 1, 1954 (thanks Mom for sneaking me under the wire). As directed on my 66th birthday, I applied online for SS benefits. The SS website was very easy to work through except it was unclear as regarded the benefits being claimed were spousal benefits. I wrote a very detailed explanation in the comments area. The information regarding the Beautiful Wife (BW) was already part of the questionnaire so they knew everything about her.
A little over a month later I received correspondence about my benefits, but it was clearly about my full benefits and not spousal benefits based on my wife. I called the SS and mercifully they had a call back system. When the gentleman called me back, he directed me to a form I had to fill out and that I must take a check to return the benefits received at this time to the local office in Burbank that was the closest to my home.
I drove over to the attractive free-standing SS building located 20 minutes from my house. Upon arriving a security guard made sure to direct me to a touch screen which asked a series of questions and generated a printed number. I had stated I was making a new application since, in effect, my first one was not for what I wanted which were spousal benefits. I took my number and sat down. I had enough reading to cover me for days so I was relaxed and comfortable.
I saw on the board the numbers as they were called. Though I was sitting in a room nearly full (approximately 50 people) and it seemed like matters were moving along. I noticed there were A numbers, B numbers and E numbers on the display board, but I had a W number. I went over to our friendly (armed) security guard and asked for some guidance. He said they usually announce those separately.
That is when things started to fall apart. My number was called. I go to window 7. When I get there a lady was sitting behind a plexiglass window. Nothing conveys warm and fuzzy like speaking to someone through plexiglass. The lady tells me she doesn’t handle what I want; she only does new applications. She takes my number slip, writes a new number on it (B506) and tells me I have to go back and wait in the bullpen.
I plunked back down in the still available Bialosky seat and start piling through the stack of reading. I notice the board says they are on B492. I keep one eye on the board and one on my reading. 493, 494 …. 499, 500. After a 20-minute wait I hear “B506 go to window 7.” You cannot make this stuff up. I return to the same plexiglass-encased staff person. I said “I thought you didn’t handle this. It seems you could have done this last time I was here.” She was falling in love with me.
I handed her my forms and driver’s license, told her the situation and conveyed what the man at the service center had told me. I took out my checkbook after I stated I had to return the monies received to stop further payments. We review the amount together and I wrote the check which was slipped through the plexiglass slot. This is when she tells that she cannot accept the check; there will be a mailing coming at a further time. I stared at her wondering if we were existing in different universes. She had watched me take out my checkbook and we discussed the amount. I just slipped the check in the side of my bag.
I then stated there was another problem with my claim. Payments for Medicare B benefits (doctors) are deducted from your social security. Since they bifurcated the age for SS and Medicare until you register for SS, you are sent bills quarterly for your Medicare B premiums. I have already paid for October, November and December, but they were deducting November and December premiums from my benefits. I thought they were going to give me new spousal benefits so I did not want the premiums paid twice.
I asked if they could correct that. She tells me they cannot. I am looking at her sitting in front of two computer screens and she had my account open. “No, they will reimburse you for those payments.” I ask her why she cannot just let them know and she tells me NO. I lurched into a mini rant about how this is exactly why so many people dislike government. I can see she is now falling madly, deeply in love with me.
My regular benefits have now been cancelled. I ask her what about the application for my spousal benefits. She then tells me she doesn’t do that. “What do you mean you don’t do that? Who does?” I am feeling it now. I see in her eyes she wants to break through the plexiglass and passionately embrace me. She communicates that a colleague who specializes in that will help me. Back to the bullpen.
I rush back to the bullpen. Thankfully the Bialosky seat is still vacant. Of course, it was vacant because they close at noon and we were past that time. The friendly security guard was getting a little less friendly. He wants me there like he wants me to give him a hickey.
After more reading of Elizabeth Warren’s plans (they are endless) and impeachment analysis I hear my name. A new friend from SS helped me through my spousal application which had to be done jointly with the BW because I could not receive those benefits until she applied. He informed me if I wanted to really get the regular benefits canceled I should bring the form mailed to me in some distance time and check back to the office. If mailed it in, he indicated a century of processing. We did an under-the-plexiglass handshake and I walked toward the door.
The security guard was delighted to see me exiting. He gave me a fist pump with a feeling of joy to see me gone. Little did he know he was going to get to see me sooner than he could ever dream.
And these people want to add our health care insurance to their portfolio. What a great country we live in. Happy Thanksgiving.