February 15th, 2008

20111112, Marilee

Bureaucracy!

I got a letter with a set of forms from the Social Security Administration office in Greenbelt (about 2 hours from here) a couple of weeks ago and they wanted them filled out and returned in 15 days. Well, I spent part of every weekday during those couple of weeks (except the days Giorgio was at the vet hospital) trying to call the number on the papers. It was either fast busy or it gave me two sets of the initial recording and then rang forever (14 minutes is the longest I let it ring, just to see).

The problem with just filling out the forms was that I was supposed to account for work I'd done and they had one year of the self-employment and 11 years of the private disability insurance all as work income. And the form only let me mark Yes or No to whether I'd worked.

So yesterday, I looked up the 800 number and got an agent and explained to her. She said she could get me an appointment and I asked if I could get it at the Manassas office (about half-a-mile as the crow flies, a bit longer to go under the railroad on a road). She said yes and their first was March 12th. Well, that was a lot longer than 15 days! So she suggested I take my chances at the local office today to get instruction in what to do.

I went over to the office today, where the guard was rude to me ("So you thought you'd just come over?" after I explained that the appointment was too far away, and then I told her "That's what the agent said to do" and she said "Hmph"), and checked the Other Business box on the touch screen and got a slip of paper labelled D400. I went to sit in the front row where there were open seats (the seats were pointed perpendicularly to the counters, which they hadn't been before -- more privacy this way) and started reading an old WashPost. I paid attention to the numbers called and realized that the D numbers rotated and as they called 499, I got ready to stand up.

When the agent called 400, I waved at her and said "just a sec" because it was obvious to me that I couldn't just stand up. The chairs didn't have arms and while I have a method of getting up from unarmed chairs, I was afraid I couldn't do it because I'd been sitting up straight for an hour. So while I was trying different methods of getting a stable boost, a nice man behind me came and helped me up and then over to the counter, since I couldn't walk very well after sitting up straight that long, either.

The woman at the counter asked if I had proof that the income listed was private disability insurance and I showed it to her and explained that I had the private ins. before I got the SSA award, so SSA decreased their award when they gave it to me. Then the private ins. decreased their award because I had the SSA (sneaky insurance people!). That should all be in my record. She didn't know what I should do about the form, and went off to ask her supervisor while I leaned heavily on the counter. The supervisor says to make a big mark at that point and attach a letter that explains it all. Now, I had considered that, but I thought someone might have a fit, which was why I'd been trying to call the Greenbelt office for so long. I put my stuff back in the totebag and started to turn and started to fall. I grabbed the counter and didn't fall, and the nice man walked me out to the van. I managed to get in and stopped partway home to sit in the sunshine and let the warmth and a good chair make my back better, and then came home.

When I picked up the mail, I had a new copy of the forms, and a reminder that this was the second set they sent. I will write a polite letter, but I will also explain to them the problem with their phone number.

There was good news today, I got a pair of earrings I ordered from a friend's Etsy site: these but with siam red crystals in the beadcaps. I like the way they hit my neck when I move my head.