Jun 16, 2006

A Letter To The Editor

Try calling the Social Security office in Port Richey and see how frustrated you get.

"Here's a thought. ...''

That's the lead-in to a recorded message that tells you about a Web site you can visit for general information about Social Security or to obtain forms to fill out. No claim or appeal assistance is available from this site.

When you call this number, this message plays four times with on-hold silence between and then it clicks and cuts off your call. No matter which selection you chose, the same thing happens.

Apparently, the next available person to help you is never available because after trying for 14 working days straight, eight to 10 times each day, there has been no way to get anyone to answer the phone. This is the response my friend has received while trying to obtain information regarding a Social Security disability claim appeal. The appeal was mailed return-receipt requested on May 10. There is a time limit of 60 days for filing an appeal of this nature, so time is of the essence.

Not being able to get an answer from the Port Richey office, my friend contacted the 800 phone number for Social Security to see if they could be of assistance. Their response was that nothing had been entered into the main computer files regarding this appeal and that her only recourse was to contact the Port Richey office.

My friend has subsequently learned from the Social Security office that claims are processed in the order in which they are received and that there is only one person assigned to process these claims. This person happens to be on vacation at this time, so not only are these claims being put into a pile, according to when they were received, but that pile is going unprocessed because of a vacation.

It is understood that processing these claims takes time; however, it is not understood why it should take such a long time to get them put back into the system for processing. It has already been one month since the appeal was sent.

Lives are being put on hold. Is this how the government responds to helping a disabled citizen who has no other source of income or any other source of assistance? These citizens certainly did not put the government on hold and then cut them off repeatedly when paying into Social Security for so many years and their contributions did not stop while they were on vacation.

Here's a thought: How is it that such a huge and powerful government can assign only one person to control thousands of claims and do it in a timely fashion?

Here's another thought: Someone with the authority to intercede on behalf of these poor individuals with the Social Security Administration should step up and do so on behalf of these citizens.

Gary Morrow, Hudson

Mr. Morrow does not know it, but this could and, indeed, would have happened almost anywhere in the country.

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