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Exciting Times At The Social Security Office!

October 18, 2015

One of the joys of getting old is the opportunity to deal with Social Security.  Not only does one have the privilege of starting to collect some of the money the government was kind enough to hold for you all these years, but you now get free medical care to boot.  Wait, Medicare Part A is free, but it doesn’t really cover very much.  Oh, you want to be able to see a doctor now and then, so you need Part B. Part B will cost you but the government is nice so they will take it directly out of your SS check for you. Oh, you want to get prescriptions too, then you need Part D, which will again cost you but again we can just take it out of your check. So now the check which was not enough to support you in the first place is even less. Oh, and by the way, if this is all you have for medical coverage you are still liable for what Medicare Plans A, B, and D do not cover. So you get supplemental insurance which you pay for but we will bill you for that so don’t go spending all of your SS check on food.

Wow, so after all of that I am ready to go into old age.  Wait, we looked at your tax return from two years ago and now you have to pay more for Plans B and D.  What? But I was working full time then and now am not.  Oh, then you need to fill out a Life Changing Event form and bring it in to the nearest Social Security office. Whew, that is a relief. Thinking SS office’s are like the DMV, I figure it would be best to make an appointment. So online I go and unlike the DMV you can’t make an appointment on their web site. So I call the 800 number.

“Please state the reason you are calling,” the recorded voice says.

“Appointment,” I say.

“Please say your Social Security number,” the voice says.

I do.

“Please hold for the next available service provider”.

Wait, wait, wait.

“We’re sorry for the delay, SS has over 50 million enrolled and we take each call in order.”

Wait, wait, wait. I guess all 50 million must be calling at the same time. Finally, after exactly 52 minutes on hold an operator comes on the line. I explain my need for an appointment and one is set for the following week, late afternoon.

While I was on hold, I Googled my local office and found an 800# for them.  Now I had tried to call them in the beginning on the local # on their site but had been infirmed it was disconnected. Anyway, thinking I might get in sooner I call the 800# and within two minutes am talking to a rep at the local office. I explain my reason for an appointment (remember the Life Changing Event form) and she says they don’t take appointments for that and to just come in. Our government at work!

So the next morning, bright and early, I head down to the Social Security office.  When you go in you simply go to a kiosk, input your SS# and out pops a number, which when called means it is your turn.  So I sit.  In one corner of the room is a desk with an armed security guard. When this guy stands up I realize he is about six feet five inches and at least 240 pounds. As I sit there, I notice if anyone raises their voice while talking to a clerk, he immediately stands up and starts to move in that direction. Makes you wonder just how violent old people can get.

Now for most transactions, you simply go to a window when you are called, but if you need an “interview”, there is a  side door that takes you back to another clerk’s office. As I am sitting there, a man comes out of that door and walks over to the restroom door. There is only one restroom in the lobby – unisex. He tries to open it, and since someone is inside, it is locked. He then knocks. This brings the security guard up off his chair.  He goes over and asks the man what he is doing. The man says he thinks he may have left his wallet in the restroom. The security guard tries the handle,  it is locked, and then knocks on the door – hard.

The occupant inside says “Yes?”, and the man yells through the door, “Is there a wallet in there?”

“No,” is the response from inside the restroom. So the man tells the security guard that he will go check his car. The guard goes back to his desk.

A man comes in and is walking to the windows where other people are being helped. This brings the guard up off his chair and as he intercepts the man, he asks if he can help.  The man says he is here to serve a subpoena to someone who works there. I’m not sure what the subpoena is for, but made it me wonder just who works in this place. The guard says just a minute and goes through the door to the back offices. The subpoena man leans against the wall next to the restroom door.  After a minute or so, the person in the restroom comes out.

He is an older man walking with a cane. He sees the guy just outside the door and says, “There was no wallet in there”.

Subpoena man, who has a permanent scowl, says,”I don’t work here, I don’t know what you are talking about.”  The old man shrugs and goes out the front door.

The guard comes out from the back and says to subpoena man, “You will have to take a number and then someone will talk to you.” Subpoena man mumbles something, looks around the room at all of us with lower numbers, starts punching numbers into his phone and stomps out. The guard goes back through the door to the offices and comes out with a sign that says Restroom Closed, proceeds to lock the restroom and hangs the sign on the door. I’m not sure why.

Finally, my number is called and I go to the window. Easy, peasy. The clerk looks over the form I have already filled out, sees that I have provided a copy of last year’s tax return and says I should get a letter in a week or so with my lower payment amounts.

“One question,” I say. “That is last years tax return, and this year I may make even less, so how do I deal with that?” The lady says, “After you get the letter verifying this change, just come back in.”

Oh boy, so I get to do this all over again. Can’t wait to see what exciting things will be happening at the Social Security office then.

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