Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Not So Social Security

Social Security...

For some it (Social Security) is Facebook and maybe I have been guilty of going there also to see if what I am up to matters to anyone besides me but my reasons are more about marketing my books and my internet radio station than trolling for reassurance that I am still as handsome as I ever was. That would be a waste of time anyway because I never was that handsome and if someone were to say that I haven't changed much since some time ago then I would have to step back and wonder exactly what they were trying to say. For example; I have an older sister who I will call Patty who has been telling me I am ugly since I was four years old and maybe even longer than that. I don't remember much about her before I was four but I do know that she has never called me "handsome."  

Indeed no one besides an old fat guy who was twice my age has called me that since I was 21. That happened one afternoon when I wandered into a gay bar and he looked at me and asked..."What'll ya have Handsome?"

I didn't let it go to my head because I figured he probably said that to every guy who bellied up to the bar; probably his way of just being social or hoping I would leave him a decent tip. But this post isn't about any of that, it is a follow-up to a story I wrote in a book in the summer of 2014; in fact it was released on my 62nd birthday and for obvious reasons it was called "62". I began writing that one in May and in early June I talked about looking forward to filing for Social Security benefits but expecting a long and complicated process from the Social Security Administration. I mean, after all, it is a tentacle of the United States government and anything that has that stamp on it is bound to be a messy process. 

I had heard horror stories about what others have had to endure when it was their time to ask for a little bit of the money back that the feds had sucked from their paychecks through the years and I expected  a similar experience when I predicted in that book that I would need to have the patience of Job and that I would have to bring my own scissors to cut through miles of red tape when it was my turn to get in line. They didn't let me down; it was worse than I wrote that it might be. It all started in April when I contacted the SSA to inquire about applying for my benefits 90 days before I turned 62. I was told by a gal that I could do that but I would be better off if I waited until 30 days before and that it would be a very simple process that I could do on line and like a dummy I believed her. I know I should have remembered that I was talking to a paid employee of an agency run by the U.S. government but I let my guard down and hung up, looking forward to going to their website on June 26. 

What I found was an application there that looked simple enough but by the second page became something far from being easy to navigate. Before I was half-way through the third page their system logged me off and invited me to try again. I did two more times and after the third attempt to make it to the 4th page I was advised that applicants are only given three tries before being blocked for ninety days. That was explained in a phone call to them that it was set up that way to prevent fraud and that if I still wanted my money I could set up an appointment for someone from the SSA to call me back within 60 to 75 days.

As they say on Facebook...WTF?

So I made the appointment and on September 15th they did call me back. In the book I wrote that I expected to be hammered hard by them because I had read that if I was receiving another retirement that I also paid into than my expected SS benefits would be reduced, regardless of what they owed me, and even though I paid into their system for more than 30 years I would be penalized and probably receive less than half of what I would have received if I took any of the money that was owed to me from the other system I paid into. They kept their word; I was shocked at the amount more than I expected I would be when we finally worked it out.

Sometime within the next 45 days I will receive something from them but I have already lost what I hoped I would get thirty days past my 62nd birthday. Their reason: I waited too long to file to qualify for it. But still I am happy; elated actually, because that step of becoming a senior citizen is done and because pretty soon I will at least get a few dollars more than I was getting every month. 

But this post isn't as much an attempt to bitch about all of that as much as it is a public service announcement of sorts. One for anyone contemplating applying for and receiving what is owed to them by Uncle Sam when the time comes for notifying him that you want it. The law says you can start the process ninety days before your 62nd birthday, something to consider. The other reason I have written this piece is because if you have read my book it left you hanging on this topic. I finished it and released it before this nightmare ended. I just figured someone might want to know how my prediction turned out when I wrote that I expected another bumpy road enroute to old age. I found it!

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