Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dealing With The Government Online

Last year I considered applying for Social Security Disability benefits. I looked it up on the official government website and was dismayed by the mountain of paperwork needed to make the application and put it off until later.  It's later.

I'm already receiving SS regular benefits and the signup at the local field office took about fifteen minutes. I figured I could gather the paperwork together and do the same thing with disability. It took several days of digging through my records to find every doctor, their address, their phone number, every hospital visit, every diagnosed illness, every medicine, last day I held a job, tax records, insurance records, et cetera. Once I had what I felt was just about everything I drove down to the field office and took a number. And waited. And waited.

Once my number was called I went to the window. Two minutes later I was back in my car headed home. To apply in their office I need an appointment...which takes two weeks. Once I get an appointment I bring my information back in...the clerk guaranteed that I wouldn't have everything...I find out what else I need and make another appointment which would take another two weeks. He strongly urged me to apply online instead.

Fine. I'll try it online. The website seemed fairly easy to navigate and I was encouraged. This should be a piece of cake.

Q1: Full name.
A: Well that's easy. I typed in my name.

Q2: Social Security Number.
A: Another easy one.

Q3: Birth date.
A: I hope everything is this easy.

Q4: Gender.
A: Male, of course.

Q5: Are you blind?
A: Nope. Simple as pie.

Q6: Are you unable to work?
A: Yeah, I sure am.

Q7: When did you become unable to work?

Okay, it's starting to get a little harder. My first thought was...two and a half years ago when my employer fired me for not being able to help unload delivery trucks. I looked up the date and plugged it in.

Q8: Have you previously been denied Social Security benefits?
A: Nope.

Q9: Have you been diagnosed with a condition that is expected to lead to death?

Hmm. Well this cancer is eventually going to kill me if my ticker doesn't fail or I get hit by a bus first. But that isn't going to happen for a while...I hope. Let's say no.


We're sorry...we cannot process your request. 
We are sorry for the inconvenience, but we cannot process your benefit application online because some information we have on file is different than the information you provided.


I looked back over the questions.
Name. Couldn't be that.
SSN. Same deal.
Birthday. Mom and dad wouldn't have lied to me.
Gender. Let me check. Yeah...definitely male.
Blind. I'm reading the screen with my own two eyes.
Unable to work. Yeah, I'm sure, I have a dozen reasons on that one.
When did you become unable to work? Okay, that's gotta be it. 

I thought about that one for a moment and remembered I had received unemployment benefits for a while after I was fired. To get unemployment you have to state you are able to work and some of the funding is federal...they probably have a record of that. Bump the date up to January first of this year, long after the unemployment ran out.

Denied benefits? I'm sure about that one also.
Condition leading to I don't think so. Not immediately anyway.

Go back to the form and plug in the change.

We're sorry...

Same message.  Okay, go back and say "Yes, I'm gonna die."

We're sorry...

Looks like I'm gonna have to call for an appointment.

UPDATE: Made an appointment the next morning. Two weeks? Nope...FIVE.

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