Jun 12, 2016

The Hell Of Applying For Government Benefits

     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.


Anonymous said...

Well. So many places where things went wrong, and on everyone's part. The hospital worker who directed them to apply for SSI had to know something about the income and resource requirements and could have done a better job in just what it was she was referring her for. Since there isn't a program that goes by that name (low birth weight), it's just a category of disability, it'd likely be no one has heard of it.

Mistyped name or address; that's just sloppy.

She admits to being in a daze, I get that. But it honestly isn't hat complicated if only someone had walked her through it. So she'd have understood why the questions about the baby's earnings etc were being asked. And that was the opportunity to explain deeming.

I hope she isn't emailing sensitive medical and other records to other places; fax has a place regarding relative security of information. Email isn't secure.

I've had the appointment thing happen as well. Somehow it's always set for their schedule; you do have to adjust to it or wait. That isn't user friendly or customer-centric. But likely unavoidable.

I guess in a piece about bureaucracy as a maze the SSA and DDS situation is text book. I get why it's included, it highlights something that on the surface makes no sense. But it exists for a reason and isn't going away for a reason, but to include any of that would take away from the point she is trying to make. So it stands as something idiotic that somehow exists just because.

But again, a good interviewer would have made sure she knew about the DDS and its role before letting her go. Or maybe they did and it all went over her head, like adult speech in a Peanuts cartoon....

As an ex-employee and the rep payee for an adult disabled person, I have been her and the CR and I have sympathy for her, but also the workers who face ladies like this by the hour, every day. It's a damn shame the GOP has slowly strangled the agency to the point where this kind of thing becomes the new normal (which was their intent, after all). Much easier to denounce government that doesn't work than government that does. So first, set it up to fail, then point the finger.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing to me that it took this long for someone to tell this lady that she would not be eligible for SSI benefits because of the couple's income. A 2 minute explanation of the program could have saved a lot of time (both for the claimant, and for the administration).

Anonymous said...

She is a type of journalist so I doubt she is as naive as she pretends. Often though while a newborn is in the hospital,his parents' income does not count against him for eligibility purposes. This is because he is not living in their home. This nurse or social worker will often give a one page document to the parent which they can send to the field office who will send it the DDS who will make the decision the same day for the disability part of ten case. Not the one year she implies. If a newborn is in the hospital and the parent does not assist in some way in getting the record it is sometimes almost impossible to get the records from medical records while the child is in the hospital. In this mother'ss case I do not believe she stood in line from 8:30 to 11:30 the M Street DO because they do not open until 9:00

Anonymous said...

8:58 Can't speak for M Street, but at the Columbia MD office, I've been in a 40 plus person line before the office opened. Seriously. They ask you not block the access for the other business's. So if you show up early and have no appointment, this sounds extremely plausible.

As for the time spent in the hospital (making the fact the child wouldn't be living in the parent's household) that does make sense there would be coverage for the period which would bring Medicaid into the mix (re the unpaid hospital expenses) but again, that should have been something easily explained but as I'm not sure if they lived in DC or VA if the nuances of the state involvement with Medicaid comes into play.

Anonymous said...

SSA has information that predicts which days will have the heaviest traffic. Would you use that information to plan your visit if it was made available to you?