The Atlantic has a piece written by Laura Kwerel on The Hell of Applying for Government Benefits. Here's an excerpt:
It’s 11:30 a.m., and after three hours of waiting, I have finally gotten to the front of the line at the Social Security Administration on M Street in Washington, D.C. I have come to see if they received a fax—the agency rarely uses email to communicate with the public.
The harried worker in front of me click-click-clicks something into her computer terminal, then looks up at me disapprovingly. “You have an appointment,” she says. Um ... what? This was the first I had heard of an appointment. After weeks of calling their 800 number without success, I decided to just show up in person. “It’s at 3 o’clock,” she went on. “Didn’t you receive the notice?”
I would later find out that their office had indeed sent me a letter, but because a “2” was incorrectly entered as a “4,” it had gone to the wrong address. The fact that I appeared on the day of my “appointment” was a fluke. And they had not received the fax.