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Hurry Up And Wait

10/05/2007
by

October 1st I started through the “maze” that is called the Social Security Administration and I think I’m not going to like the journey.

It started off o k, in fact I was lulled into the belief that it wasn’t going to be difficult or even stressful. Ah, “silly me”.

In September I stopped by the SSA office, just to find out what the process entailed in filing for SS benefits since I’ll turn 62 in January. I thought this would be a prime time for me to get a jump on the “bureaucracy”.

The clerk, on my September visit, was very helpful and genuinely full of information on how I was to proceed.

“Perfect time for you to start” said she, “Good” said I.

She gave me info on what I would collect and even set me up with an appointment to come back in October, “You can file 90 days before your birthday” she informed with a smile and off I went with a quiet peace and confidence.

A week later I got another confidence booster when I received my written confirmation of the appointment in the mail and it included the instructions on what to bring to the meeting, “birth certificate, DD form 214, social security card” and so on.

I took my confirmation and with, again, quiet confidence put my letter on the refrigerator as a reminder.

The final “hook” of confidence in the system came on the Friday before my Monday appointment, a phone call from the SSA to re-confirm my appointment and added instructions.

“Wow”, I was impressed. Thought of the expense and time that the SSA spent on making sure that this appointment went well so there was no need to worry.

Monday came and off I went with forms, certificates and sundries in hand to my meeting.

I walked in, approached the computer for sign in, entered my “social” and then the problems started with the computer “spitting” out a note, giving me a number to have a seat, “Need more information” before they could process my appointment. Oh, Oh, did I here a thud somewhere?

Hearing my number called in a matter of minutes, I went to the instructed window. “What’s your social” I was asked.

Perplexed, I gave it. Now you may ask why perplexed? Because I gave it the day I made the appointment, it was on my confirmation letter and I entered it in the computer as I checked in.

A couple of other mundane questions and I was back in my seat waiting for the original scheduled appointment.

“Mr Hand, window 9, Mr. Hand window 9” came booming across the loud speaker. “It won’t be long now” thought I.

Here’s where everything unravels.

“Well Mr. Hand, we really can’t do anything for you at this moment”. “Huh?” I sat with a glazed stare, like a deer caught in headlights.

“With it being the end of the fiscal year…”, I’m sure he meant calendar year since it’s really the beginning of the fiscal year…”and figures aren’t in for the next year and we’re closing out this and that”…I’m just nodding at this point…”you’ll have to come back closer to your January birthday.”

“Oh, o k” when do I come back?” ask I trying to gather my composure.

“Well you can file 90 days before your birthday” was his answer…BUT…I just did that and you’re telling me you can’t take my application, oh well, meekly I ask, since I’m at his mercies, “When can I do that?”

“In November” was his reply. I wanted to point out that was really 60 days from my birthday (January 8th) but anyone who didn’t know the difference between “fiscal” and “calendar” year might not get the addition of days in November and December.

I acquiesced to his re-scheduling in November and said, “Lets set that up now.”

“No, can’t do that” was his answer. Now I must have resembled a whole herd of deer in the headlights, but wait a minute, they set me up with an appointment a month in advance from September to October.

“Why?” said I dreading the response. “Because we are at the end (wait for it) fiscal year and things are run much tighter with the computers but call in November and we’ll set you up then, nothing I can do for you today.”

As I left, now dreading November’s meeting, I had a rush of the past and the “old G.I.” adage came to mind…”hurry up and wait…”maybe till I’m 70.

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