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Antisocial Insecurity

13 July, 2017

I know people claiming social security are sometimes seen as jobless spongers who are just too lazy to get a job, but based on my recent experience, getting the Social Security Administration to actually give you money is more work than an actual job. Allow me to explain.

For reasons we don’t need to get into, my three kids became eligible for social security payments (in lieu of Child Support) in January this year. Although they automatically became eligible, I still had to apply (on their behalf) for said social security payments, which necessitated filling in a shit-ton of forms (per child) and then going down to the temporal black hole that is the local Social Security Office to hand it all it, along with another shit-ton of supporting paperwork (birth/marriage/divorce/death certificates, etc., etc.). Which I did in March.

SocialSecurityBecause the payments have to come to me (as their legal guardian), via direct deposit, I also had to provide my bank account details. But separately for each child, so I could receive a separate payment for each child, because bundling them up into a single payment would be too easy and efficient. The nice lady at the Social Security Office (Agent #1) told me I could expect to receive a back-payment for January to March in April, and then I would receive monthly payments “on or around” the 4th Wednesday in the month, every month after that. She even gave me her direct line to call if there were any problems.

By the end of April I hadn’t received (or heard) anything so I called Agent #1 back. I got her voicemail and left a message. When I hadn’t heard back after a week I called again and left another message. And again a week after that. Still no reply. So in May, I called the main office on the 1-800 number and actually got to speak to someone. I explained everything to Agent #2, who said that the payments had all gone out in April, but all three had been returned with an “invalid payee bank account number”. The SSA never bothered to call me or write to let me know – I guess they just figured that if I really needed the money I’d call them. So I asked the agent to check the bank account details they had on file; for “security reasons” they couldn’t tell me what numbers they had, but if I gave them my bank details again, they could confirm whether they matched what they had on file. So I did. “Ooh no, that doesn’t match any of the three different numbers we have for your children…”. Um what? Three different numbers? How the hell did that happen? They are all supposed to be paid into the same bank account, and I gave exactly the same bank account number for each child, yet somehow they were all entered incorrectly – and all differently – for each child?? “Well, I don’t know how it happened, but you’ll have to come into the office to correct them.”

So I went back down to the office the next day (another morning off work, another several hours trying not to make eye contact with the jobless spongers), and I gave my (one set of) bank account details again (this time, handing over a check so they can read the numbers straight off that). Agent #3 seemed very helpful, and also gave me her direct line to call if there were any problems.

A couple of weeks later I received the back-payment for child #3, but nothing for the other two. I call Agent #3 and leave a voicemail. No callback. I call again a week later. Same thing. So again, I call the central line, explain everything all over again, and ask them to check the bank account numbers for children #2 and #3. “Well, they’re not the same as the number you have given me…”. What!? WHAT!? So after they were entered incorrectly the first time and I went in to your office to correct them, the correction was entered incorrectly?? Agent #4 clearly felt sorry for me. “Well, seeing as they are only one digit out – one has an extra digit at the end, and the other has the last digit wrong – I can just correct them over the phone.” So both corrections were again entered incorrectly and again both different from each other? *sigh* I give her the account numbers again (third time, now!) she reads them back to me, and we’re all good! Or not.

A couple of weeks later (now mid-June), I do indeed receive the back-payment (now 4 month’s worth) for Child #2, but still nothing for Child #1. I give it another couple of weeks, until the 4th Wednesday in the month, just in case it’s tied up in the payment run cycles, and miracle of miracles, I receive the first regular monthly payment (for May) for Child #3. But no monthly payment for Child #2 (for whom I’d actually received the back-payment two weeks previously, so I know those bank details were correct), and nothing – no back-payment, no monthly payment – for Child #1. Fuck!!

I give it a week because of the “on or around” clause, and then call the 1-800 number again. I don’t even bother to explain things again. I just ask Agent #5 to check the bank details for Child #1, which they duly do. “Oh no, that’s not even close to what we have on file.” What!?? Are you’re fucking kidding me!? So last time I called up they changed it over the phone because at that time it was only one digit out, but when they made the correction they actually changed more than one digit, and made it even more incorrect than it already was?? “Sir, I understand your frustration…” No, I really don’t think you do… “Well you’ll have to come into the office anyway, as the file for Child #1 has now been closed because he turned 18 in April, and all outgoing payments have been blocked.” But I turned in the paperwork to get it extended until he finished High School in June, before his 18th birthday, as requested by your office. “I have no record of that.” So you lost it? “Well, I don’t see any evidence that it was lost…” Eh? But you don’t see it on file? “Well no, but just because it isn’t on file doesn’t mean that we lost it… but anyway, that doesn’t make a difference at this point because his bank account details are wrong anyway!”. Yes, because you dipshits keyed it in wrongly three fucking times!!

I move on to asking about the monthly payment for Child #2. What happened to that? I know the bank details are correct because I received the back-payment. “Well, the last payment was blocked because we didn’t have a valid mailing address on file.” But you’re not mailing a check, this is by direct deposit. “Yes, but we still need a mailing address…”. Ok…but wait, what…? You had the correct address in mid-June, but this changed by the end of June? Let me check that. I give them my mailing address again. “Yes, that’s what we have on file!” he says, pleased that they have something correct. Oh for fuck’s sake! Now they’re just messing with me! So I ask Agent #5 to unblock Child #2′s file and re-initiate the payments. Which they agree to, but I’m not putting it past them to screw up the bank account number in the process… (Incidentally, when I check the mail just after making this call, I see that I have a letter telling me that they can’t make the back-payment for Child #2 (i.e. the payment I actually received) because they do not have a correct mailing address. This letter was sent to…my correct mailing address! Dun dun duuuuun! Really. You just can’t make this shit up!

So this week I went down to The Land That Time Forgot again, to give them my same exact bank details again. Because they can’t just cut and paste them from either of the other two children’s files, what with all three supposed to being the same account. Agent #6 doesn’t give me her direct line, but instead takes my number, and promises to call me back the next day to confirm that everything was fixed. Obviously she didn’t. Probably because it hasn’t been fixed. But being the paragon of patience that I am, I’m going to give it until the “4th Wednesday” just in case miracles do happen, before I go postal on their asses!

At this point, I’m now ‘owed’ over $1,000, which is just ridiculous. I wouldn’t necessarily say I am “financially secure”, but thankfully I can scrape by without these payments. But if that wasn’t the case – and honestly it’s probably not for most people who are on welfare, my kids would have starved to death by now. The bureaucracy is infuriating, the computer systems outdated (can they really not link all three kids to the same payee?), the inability to type a number into a field incredible,  and the utter lack of ownership and personal accountability (I’ve now been through six Agents!) is just shocking. If Trump really wants to ” fix government” he should start by firing this bunch of inept fuckwits, make them all register for social security for a couple of months, and then re-apply for their old jobs once they appreciate the problems they are perpetuating. Me, I hope I die before I have to start collecting social security payments for real. I don’t think my blood pressure could take going through all of this again.

Update #1: 26 June 2017
So, this is the 4th Wednesday in the month. I received the (now) regular monthly payments for Child #2 and Child #3, but still nothing for Child #1. I call again, and explain this to Agent #7. She is very sympathetic, and checks my details. And would you know it, the bank account number for Child #1 is incorrect. Again. For the fourth time. I could have screamed. Luckily the Agent sensed my frustration and promised to just change it over the phone. Which she did, and read it back to me, and apparently all is now good. However I am now 3 payments behind (the ‘back-payment’ for January thru April, May, and now June), and their system will only let them re-initiate one missing payment a day. So she has triggered this month’s payment, and made a note to trigger the other payments as soon as possible. I wait with bated breath.

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