Friday, May 17, 2019

Unsociable Security

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, social security, financial advisor, spousal benefits

Hang on, everyone, this is going to be a chaotic ride today! See, we're actually too exhausted and frustrated to do a proper post about Alabama's abortion laws, possible impending war with Iran, the unbridled idiocy of adding an "adversity score" to SAT results, or the Democrats doing a marathon session to read the entire Mueller Report out loud (for reasons we can't even begin to fathom, although it is fun watching them try to sound out the polysyllabic words).

The cause of our distraction and dysfunction relates to a visit that the Jarlsberg family paid to the local Social Security office today. By way of backstory, Stilton isn't taking Social Security yet (though he's old enough and has paid tens of thousands of dollars into the freaking system) but theoretically, according to our new paid financial advisor, Mrs. J could claim a social security spousal benefit anyway (she doesn't qualify based on her own work record, because it was for a government agency with a separate retirement plan).

So we conveniently filed her claim online, and it was only a week or so later that we received a letter saying that Mrs. J had to call someone at the Social Security office. It took her three attempts before anyone bothered to call back, at which point she was told that she had to report to a crowded field office because she'd been flagged as a possible fraud. Swell.

So today was the big day, and the Jarlsbergs showed up at the packed United Nations-style waiting room (side note: apparently America's melting pot has been supplanted by cold cash) where a nice police officer frequently had to tell everyone to shut the heck up so that the old, infirm, and foreigners could hear the service numbers which were occasionally called through what sounded like a big electric kazoo. It was like being in the hold of a slaving ship, only with passengers playing with their smartphones.

Fortunately we had an actual appointment, meaning we only had to wait with the great unwashed for two and a half hours before being called in. And from there, everything was easy! It only took the charming and personable clerk five minutes to explain that our claim was rejected and that Mrs. J can't get any social security payments until her workaholic husband also signs on as a ward of the state. She did not tell us to "piss up a rope," "screw ourselves," or "take a flying f*ck at a rolling donut," though we're pretty sure these notions were implied.

Since Social Security knew from the initial application that they were going to deny the claim, why didn't they just put THAT in the letter, rather than ordering us to come in and waste hours of our time? Oh yeah, because they had to complete their investigation of the whole "fraud" thing - the accusation of which, it turns out, is randomly assigned by a computer to provide maximum annoyance. To put Mrs. J right in the eyes of God and country, we were told to bring birth certificates, marriage licenses, name change documents, multiple forms of identification, fingerprints, DNA cheek swabs, and about 10 pounds of other documentation.

Our clerk started the interrogation by asking for Mrs. J's driver's license, which she tap-tap-tapped into a database. "Okay," she smiled, "you're all done." We asked about all the other things our Sherpa had struggled to carry in, and she said, "Oh no, we don't need any of that."

So we were free to go, claim denied, but with the renewed confidence of knowing that seamless proof of citizenship and identity can apparently be established by a minor functionary's quick glance at a driver's license.

While the entire experience was only a bit over 3 hours, the soul-sapping nature of the visit (and the unsatisfying outcome) has left us drained and discouraged.

We have seen the future, and it doesn't work worth a damn.

PS: The only thing we enjoyed about the visit to this gulag was seeing framed photos of Donald Trump and Mike Pence on the wall, and guessing how many people who were there to claim our tax dollars were annoyed by pictures of our President and Vice President.


mamafrog said...

I've spent up to an hour on the phone waiting for someone to talk to me from Social Security. A side effect of clearing up my husbands paperwork (from his death) and my filing for it. Then, after I got everything straightened out and the deposit going to the bank, I had to close my account and open a new one because I was now the primary and his name couldn't be on the account at all. We won't talk about what happens because I'm trying to get the part Of his social security I'm entitled to as a supplement to mine. It took almost a year to get everything sorted out. This doesn't cover what comes out monthly for what they call an over payment from three years ago, and now medicare is getting hacked out of it too. I have to have the insurance or I would just tell them to screw off. It wears you out after awhile, not to mention I still have to sort out our taxes, yuk. Oh, and the one time I did go to the office I came down with a case of bronchitis that sent me to the ER, before the insurance took effect, of course.

Jason Anyone said...

Ya know, Stilts...Between the IRS & Social Security, I can't help but wonder if maybe you're getting some sort of "True the Vote" treatment (like maybe someone who's a fan of Blowbama, and who knows you're the "guy who did the HopeNChange Cartoons", thus, not a fan of yours). Yeah, I know that sounds conspiratorial, but sheesh, they sure do give you a hard time.

Here's hoping for a brighter future (and seeing the deep-state given a dumping in the dumpster).

Happy Friday!

Mike aka Proof said...

The Social Security office is like the DMV, only with an older clientele!

james daily said...

I, too am familiar with the bureaucracy of SS and a pox on all their houses. My nephew who is 100% disable has been hassling with them well over a year and keep getting denied his benefits. He is in the process of suing the bastards for all the good it will do.
I am sure it will result in nothing but wasted time and money but not my call. I wished him luck. He has lost everything because of these cretins, he lives with his sister and that is his only choice. I am sure hell would be a picnic compared to dealing with these scum. I am really sorry for your wife's experience of being treated like a leper.

Fish Out of Water said...

When the government has an absolute monopoly and is completely in charge.....

Wonder what good old Bern, AOC , Fauxahonas, "Spartacus " et, al might have to say about your experience?

Anonymous said...

Oh Lord can I sympathize. My husband passed late November. His SS deposit for October which he received in November was taken back with no explanation. As a Town retiree, meaning a government retiree, I only get a portion of my SS amounting to $22 a month. Hadn't gotten it for 5 months with no explanation except that my account had been suspended but the woman on the phone could find no reason, other than the letter which I had received telling me I owed Medicare $300+ made absolutely no sense. I then received a letter telling me the bank had returned his check for October and the $255 funeral benefit because the account number was wrong. Some genius at SS had changed the bank account number that has been in existence for 20 years! This required me to fill out a form to change my account number back to the old number in person and would take 1-2 months. I then learned I am entitled to survivor benefits but they needed additional info. Still waiting for the letter I was to receive 3 weeks ago! Welcome to hell.

Anonymous said...

My condolences to your exposure to the Social Security System - ain't Life Grand ? My autistic son receives benefits and the amount of red tape and proof of how and what it is spent on takes quite a bit of time. I wonder if able bodied people have to keep records of how they spend their money on ?

Now that he has a part time job, I am required to send the SS office every pay stub so they can adjust the amount of benefit payed to him. All of these efforts on our part is in no way compensated - its a labor of love. We are giddy with delight !

Anonymous said...

I've been right there ! Only I sat in the United Nations sized waiting room for 3 hours sitting next to a woman who was sharing my space as she was too large to fit into the chairs provided us. Note: She had a scar across her face that looked like, at one time, perhaps the entire face had been laid open. Naturally, I didn't want to say anything about her invading my space. How have we fallen so far that doing things with the government is sheer torture. A fan, Sharon

Fish Out of Water said...

Remember the words of Ronald Reagan and the government being there to "help".

Alan said...

Apparently your new paid financial advisor is dumb as a sack of rocks or he/she doesn't like you. Might even be a government spy trying to entrap you.

Fred Ciampi said...

The worse (for us) part of being a gubbermint employee is that you cannot get fired. And they know that. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Snark said...

CongressCritters should have to "enjoy" ALL of the benefits that ordinary, citizens have to endure which includes SS and Medicare. I'm hoping and praying that PDJT, 10 minutes after his next inauguration, will reverse JFK's executive order permitting government employees to unionize. Liberal heads would explode like 4th of July fireworks going off. Popcorn worthy entertainment for weeks!

Unknown said...

My stepson is handicapped [by the Social Security’s definition] because of his low IQ. However, even after documenting his status TWICE, he was rejected and we had to go before a judge [i.e. someone who could read AND make a decision] before he was approved. When he got his first back-payment, they’d withheld 25% for his ‘lawyer’, even though I had been the one to go along and represent him. When we tried to get the withholding refunded, over the course of 3 consecutive months at four different offices, each time having to re-explain the entire story, we were finally told that it was handled at our local SS office. THEY, in turn, told us that I would have to file for payment [since I had represented him?!?!] and I could give the money back to my son. I too went to that waiting room from hell, and asked for some documentation from the lady I’d last spoken to. THAT dumb bitch had mailed the documents to me, even though I told her I was on my way. Fortunately, after explaining once again, the lady at the counter said, ‘That’s not a problem... you need to file a correction form”. She printed out the form, had me sign it, handed it to HER supervisor directly, and I was told we’d have the money soon! A week later, a check for the balance was paid to my son. I contacted our local congressman, explained [with names, numbers, and dates/locations] and he in turn started an ‘investigation’, which resulted in the humming-hawing answer basically saying “Ooops!”
I guess the people who aren’t qualified enough to work at the DMV have to get hired somewhere!
Our tax dollars... at WORK???

Anonymous said...

“We need to take all these 401k’s, that are invested in the stock market, and put it in something safe, like treasury bonds or social security, so we can protect their retirements.” In the same breath she said people who have wealth or earning income over $200k a year, shouldn’t be entitled to social security benefits, so we can help all the other people.” (in spite of what they paid in all their lives)
Nancy Pelosi

Geoff King said...

I actually had a painless experience with S.S.
Having come of "age" at the beginning of this month, I made my way to the field office last month armed with my birth certificate (which they never asked for), S.S. card (which they never asked for), and driver's license (which is all they asked for). As I had stood out in the freezing rain one half hour before they opened, I was first in line and the whole process took only about 20 minutes.
I recieve my first payment the middle of next month.

Pat Cummings said...

Robert A. Heinlein made a point about the two kinds of quartermaster he'd encountered in the service. The first kind found great delight in citing the rules and regs that permitted him to deny you what you wanted. The second would search until he found a way to get you what you needed.

My guess is, the second type is rare on the ground in ANY bureaucratic office!

John said...

That spousal benefit has been eliminated - our financial managers told us about that and we applied, my wife is getting a few bucks a month I think from my Social Security. I have never understood that benefit but we'll take the money. Congress (IRS?) shut that down maybe a year ago.

Michael Donohue said...

I cannot wait until these cretins get to determine one's need for medical care. The Medicare-for-all coverage will be "free." The unanswered question will still be, "What type of care comes with he free coverage?"

Alfonso Bedoya said...

My wife and I recently moved to Arizona so as to escape the looney bin that Commiefornia has become. I envisioned having to purchase a new wheelbarrow from Lowe's in order to drag along the documents required for a new driver's license.

Lowe and behold: the AZ motor vehicle department is far more organized than the DMV in Mexifornia, where the waiting room is constantly filled with 100 people (or more) who can't/won't speak English. In Prescott, only one person was ahead of me, and I breezed through with the required papers, sans wheelbarrow.

TrickyRicky said...

“I said in the speech this has been an agenda from Reagan’s administration right on through to Trump’s — to take money from working people and give it to the 1 percent. So when I say there’s plenty of money in this country, it’s just in the wrong hands, it means to say we need policies that give back to working people — like guaranteeing health care for all."

Bill "Even the View Hates Me" De Blasio

Stilton, I'm afraid your horrible experience with the bureaucrats from hell is but a taste of what our betters have planned for all of us deplorables.

Geoff King said...

@ Alphonso: The Arizona MVD (not DMV like everywhere else) has improved their efficiency dramatically over the last couple of years. They now have kiosks that spit out registration and tags without having to wait to speak to a flustered clerk. That, coupled with the fact that driver's licenses do not have to be renewed until you reach age 65, make it now almost an enjoyable experience (key word: almost).

Alfonso Bedoya said...

@Geoff; Lessee....I'm almost 82, so maybe my due date for renewal is 95? These days I do what I am told....just like it was when I was a teenager in the military light years ago. I'm learning things that will make me "fit in," such as calling our newly-adopted city, "Press-kit" instead of "Press-cott." Must have been a holdover from the days when the place was populated by miners, lumberjacks, cowboys and other codger-types. Hopefully, pronouncing "MVD" will be only a minor hurdle to conquer.

So far, we love Arizona and marvel at the amount of restored old cars that populate the area. Our restored '67 Chev stepside truck draws stares wherever we go, and it feels right at home on the country roads near us.

Geoff King said...

@ Alfonso: As I stated, Az. driver's licenses need no renewal from age 16 to age 65. They do, however, request that you update your photo every 10 years or so and notify them of any address changes and such. At age 65 on you must renew your license every 5 years.

Liberty Card said...

I too worked for a government agency but was forced to contribute to SS in spite of having a separate retirement program. Unfortunately, it was the USN and the DoD didn't have the stones it took to keep the goofernment from reducing my pitiful salary by forcing us to bail out their mismanaged "retirement" plan.

John the Econ said...

Alabama: I'm finding it hard to care anymore.

Iran: They want the better deal they had with Obama back. Duh, who wouldn't?

Adversity Score: The race to the bottom in the victimology Olympics continues unabated. So the kid who studies their ass off and possesses the aptitude to crack cold fusion will get passed over in favor of a kid who sat on their ass but had the misfortune of having a crappy home life. I can see Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin kicking themselves this morning, thinking that if they had only gotten divorces, done meth, and beat their kids (as they clearly deserve), they'd be a million richer and not looking at prison time.

Reading the Mueller report: Most Democrats these days can barely digest anything more than what is posted in a social media meme, so I really don't understand the point of reading the whole thing unless they're all suffering insomnia and it's to put people to sleep. But since they've got nothing else to run on for 2020 (Beyond "Make America 2009 Again!", why not?

Stilton's Adventure with unSocial inSecurity: On the southern border, there are countless towns with only a couple hundred residents but with thousands of PO boxes where government checks are delivered scrutiny-free with unquestioned regularity. But it's Mrs. J gets flagged for fraud.

I'd demand a refund for your time from that paid adviser, though.

But look at the bright side. You just got a sneak preview of what your annual doctor visit will be like under the Democrat's Medicaid for All scheme.

Doug said...

> a government agency with a separate retirement plan

The government should be involved in ALL programs they create for the rest of us, not their own private policies and plans. If laws and programs are good enough for us, it's good enough for them.

John the Econ said...

@mamafrog & @james daily, one of the supposed selling points of "single payer" health care is that it will eliminate our need to deal with the bureaucracy of existing health providers and insurance companies. What they don't tell you is that it will be replaced with what @Stilton so painfully described. Can't wait for the improvement.

The irony that always gets me is that these programs exist to supposedly protect the most vulnerable of our citizens. And yet, unless you are both well-educated, energetic and determined, you are roadkill.

@TrickyRicky, and the guy who's fighting to take NYC back to the '80s wants to be President so he can turn the whole country into the NYC of the '80s.

I also forgot to mention above that this is collateral damage of the Progressive War on the Middle Class. The rich don't care, and the poor are used to waiting in long lines for free stuff. The rest of us who have better things to do with out time and lives will be forced to suffer as the system beats us down to reinforce the idea of just who is in charge of our lives.

Sortahwitte said...

When the people have had enough, it won't be pretty. I have seen blood and guts in combat and never want to see it again. However, if that is what it takes to remove the representarats, the senatarats, the IRScum, sock secuirats, and the other blood sucking scum, count me in. I don't know if there enough trees and light poles in dc, but there are enough further out to suffice. You know I'm only kidding, but the frustration is great in this one.

Desert Rose said...

The CA DMV, IRS and SS are right at the top of government offices who believe that if they stall long enough we will raise a white flag (no discrimination intended) and give up - moving along so the other sorry fools who are waiting for their surprise at the calling of their number can find out which category their "denied claim" fits into. I am certain they would create another category so as to include all the losers in the shiny new box that defines us according to our government. We are so tired of all this crap, especially that which goes on in CA. We are moving to AZ as soon as we sell our house. This state has gone from "Golden" to mercury on the periodic table of elements. If we don't get out soon, we will join the whirlpool of sad people only to wash down the drain of confusion and join the rest of our friends out there. I know I shouldn't be such a Debbie Downer, but it is getting hard to see the place where common sense starts and complete and utter chaos begins.

Shelly said...

As others have noted here, wait until we get Medicare For All which will make health care totally free and wonderful. This makes my blood boil. After paying into Medicare all my working years, 44 in total, and years of co-pays and premiums, it is anything but free. So it's a damned lie. What we would probably get is all of the above plus enormous tax increases. Liberals won't be satisfied until we are Cuba with them in charge.

Rod said...

As mentioned here in the past: while working for "Western" companies I travel to & worked in in Moscow, several locations in Siberia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan & Caspian Sea in the 90's beginning not long after the fall of the Soviet Union. It was a mess at first, IMO due to new found freedoms, collapsed systems, the starting or new surge of capitalism, etc. Goods were in short supply, services disrupted, very difficult to do business, street market, black market and under the table means were prevalent. There was a lot of inefficiency, crime and chaos as the old authoritarian regime was being replaced by "something" new. Old timers and many younger others openly regretted the fall of USSR complaining that Yes we were oppressed but we learned to live with it and EVERYTHING WORKED; NOW NOTHING WORKS. IT got better eventually and I wont comment on where they are now nor which direction they are facing. I will say that I like most everyday Russians and as people we have a lot in common.

Now, over 20 years later and with what's been happening here. I've come to the realization that USA is heading toward their old way while They and other nations are heading are heading old way

And to bring it back to personal level, much of my current effort, frustration, sometimes rage with the US "SYSTEM" in dealing with care for my very elderly parents in topics like healthcare providers, private providers now operating under the strict and money grubbing rules and even my own private pay care (or whichc one might think "My money<> My rules; but that is not entirely the case) are under the thumbs of for-profit hospitals, Medicare, Social Security, V A, US Post office, ETC and I tink the situation in large part has become this:

The key words in 1990's Russia were "We learned to deal with USSR". Over the years common sense with good minded people produced a lot of work-arounds for the oppression. But WE in USA now are under relatively new thumbs; but many of us do not have the awareness of what's going on, nor the care, courage or opportunity to develop work-arounds for all the government bullshit. Too many of us are also part of that as their frigging jobs. I'm talking details like HIPPA rules and Medicare "2 & 3 Midnights in Hospital, and Medicare> Hospice NO clinical care only comfort" rules. There are so many other too like rural post carriers are not supposed to enter a private lane even if it's a short drive through back to their route and a safer stopping location for THEM; and they are not supposed to make left turns form main roads. There are thousands of examples of cook-booked idiocy. Employees are focusing 30-50% of their efforts on not breaking any rules and entering new data into the system are which are not communicated to others or used as one progresses through the system. Dr are like federal judges; go find the one who will wight the social workers paper. I just had a situation where ER Dr#1 (correctly) diagnosed one condition, the ward rounds Dr #2 found and treated another; and the then when asocial work (AKA money grubber gt involved Dr #3 fully disagreed with the first and was primarily responsible for discharging my father from hospital prematurely due to medicare rules and keeping the hospital out of trouble. They even admitted that. it was not not about optimum care at all; it all about federal rules, liability & money grubbing.

Although I'm willing and ready to participate... I really hope a hot revolution will not be required... but do have my doubts about that. I see myself as an informed activist trying to sound an alarm when talking about this stuff and most happily ignorant people just think I'm a complainer. They may get their turn with all this bullshit later.

Mr. Goose said...

Do this - find a Social Security office in a small town, and go to that office. MUCH better service. We recently relocated from the Big City to a city of 13,000 pop. Every time the Social Security visit was quick, friendly, and easy.

MAJ Arkay said...

I applied for SS benefits the month I was eligible. We didn't need the money, but as our financial adviser said, we paid in, best to get back what we can before it all goes to hell in a hand basket.

I have yet to set foot in a SS office. I applied for Medicare online, and it was approved and processed within a month. I applied for SS online, and it was approved and processed within a month. I did receive a SSA letter saying they might ask for additional information, but they never did.

Spousal Unit followed the same process for Medicare, and next month will do the same for SS benefits. That money is going into an investment account and a savings account, to be used for sudden, huge expenses -- or maybe that vacation of a lifetime to Australia.

I suggest you seriously consider applying for it now, Stilton, and salt it away before it's gone forever.

Colby Muenster said...

I feel your pain. Mrs. Muenster and I glided into SS much like Geoff King. E-Z beezee and nary a problem for a couple years. Then, Mrs. Muenster got a letter early this year saying her benefits had been cut to something like 35 bucks because of an accounting error or some such caca del toro. We both freaked the hell out, as this would mean either I work until I'm 97, or she goes back to work, or maybe both.

After much gnashing of teeth, she got an appointment at the local office. Turns out, the letter was in error. It was supposed to be a letter informing her of her cost of living raise, but it was worded by someone with what was obviously a 3rd grade education. So all is well, but talk about having a damn heart attack! Scary that this extremely poorly worded letter was likely drafted by a college grad and probably went out to thousands of people, not just my wife.

Oh yes... I can't WAIT until this same bunch of cats is running my health care.

If only! I'd give my left nut (hell, BOTH nuts) to witness AOC, Bernie and the rest of the "free shit for everybody" crowd enduring a trip to the SS office.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@mamafrog- Well all of that sucks. It's just exhausting trying to fight the system (by which I mean getting the system to actually work). And my sincere condolences in the loss of your husband.

@Jason Anyone- I don't think I'm important enough to be the target of a conspiracy. Rather, I think I'm getting the same crappy treatment that everyone else gets.

@Mike aka Proof- A very similar experience, although in this case there were people of all ages there.

@james daily- In fairness, Mrs. J wasn't treated like a leper. Once we finally got to see someone, she was pleasant and articulate. Mind you, the information she was imparting was frustrating, but she was perfectly professional. And gosh, I'm sorry about the experience your nephew is having. I wish him luck with his lawsuit.

@Fish Out of Water- The folks that you name would be outraged that I'm even THINKING about social security payments since I funded my own private retirement account. If one of those bastards gets elected, you can bet that "means testing" will eliminate any social security payments my family is currently entitled to.

@Anonymous- I'm so sorry about the loss of your husband. The last thing in the world you need after that is this kind of idiocy. Sorry you're going through it - but at least you have lots of company!

@Anonymous Two- Yikes. Autism is tough on the whole family, but it sounds like you have the internal strength to handle it. And I'm glad your son got a part time job! I have a high-functioning autistic friend who always has to worry about not earning "too much money" from his job bussing tables at a restaurant because it could cause him to lose a lot of benefits. He's not gaming the system, he's trying to survive...and the bureaucrats don't make it easy.

@Sharon- I'm a plus-sized guy myself, so didn't appreciate the skinny little chairs in the waiting area - or the fact that the legs were all lashed together so there was no breathing room at all between you and the next person. And good for you for not telling the woman she was invading your space - she didn't have a choice, and I'll bet she was having a crappy day too.

@Fish Out of Water- Truer words were never spoken.

Old Cannonballs said...

Where I live the county seat (and biggest "city," hands down, within more than 100 miles in any direction) has a population of under 30,000 and SS and DMV waiting rooms that could be in LA.

Maybe we should all take mooing lessons. Gentle intermittent moos would add a bit of sorely needed bucolic charm to the slowly moving lines in the DMV, at any rate,

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Alan- Nah, I still think my advisor is pretty good, and he's still digging into details. The strategy that he'd recommended was quite likely changed/invalidated only recently, when the Trump tax changes took effect.

@Fred Ciampi- Oh, it shows.

@Snark- I absolutely believe that CongressCritters should be treated exactly the same as we peons, including health insurance, social security, and all the rest of it. And kill those huge lifetime retirement benefits!

@Unknown- Wow, what a story! I've got zero problems in comparison (but hey, I had a blog post to fill!). I'm glad you finally found the competent needle in the haystack who could help you. And good for you for getting your congressman involved!

@Anonymous- Nancy F. Pelosi (burning rage). Yeah, rather than have people see appreciation on their retirement funds, the government should put it in their imaginary lockbox...from which every penny has long since disappeared to be replaced by worthless IOU's. And yes, Nancy would like to use means testing to keep me from getting a cent from social security, because I scrimped and saved for decades just to be sure I could provide for my family, and now have some accrued wealth. Screw her.

@Geoff King- Wow, you DID have a good experience! In my neck of Texas, if you go to the DMV you're lucky if you spend fewer than three hours standing in line outside before beginning the endless wait inside. In this case, we at least got in the door easily enough at the Soc Sec office, but it was still an unpleasant holding cell which, in the end, was a waste of time.

@Pat Cummings- Oh, I love me some Robert Heinlein. And he was right - too many bureaucrats find power in their tiny fiefdoms from denying services because of meaningless technicalities. On a nearly unrelated note, I recently started using a small device that runs an electrical current through the brain to possibly help with mood and mental clarity. It made me think of the "wireheading" in Heinlein's books...though my device doesn't jack into a pleasure center; it just sizzles on the skin above my eyebrows.

@John- Yeah, that seems to have been what happened here and, sadly, our financial guy wasn't on top of it. Which is admittedly troubling since we've just started working with him.

@Michael Donohue- I think we all know the answer to that. Care will turn to crap, and services will be apportioned to those who are still of value to The State. Seniors will be allowed to go down the drain to help reduce Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid costs.

mamafrog said...

I can understand being worried about making too much money working. I am having to find work to pad out what's getting chopped off my SS, I have three dogs that need dogfood and I would like a better class of meal than that. Bless my children they make sure I have a roof over my head and a car that is safe (I live with my oldest son), but I want to pay my way as much as possible. I am doing work for a relative who took on too much to solve her own money problems so I'm not sure that's helping her but at least I'm not on my feet all day and I can set my hours. And you're damn straight this is undocumented pay, they have enough out of me. I finally got my driver's license as I haven't driven in about 20 years. I hated it and just quit as my hubby preferred to drive. That was a nerve wracking 6 months piece of crap. One testing station refused me three times because of paperwork errors. Did anyone else laminate their social security card back in the day, better get a new one now. I finally went to a small college town near our bigger city and took the test, passed easily. Love being discriminated against because I'm over 65 as the bigger testing station did.

John the Econ said...

@Rod said "Yes we were oppressed but we learned to live with it and EVERYTHING WORKED; NOW NOTHING WORKS."

That's the problem with the inevitable swing between economic paradigms; It's a pretty smooth slide from a free market to socialism. But there is no easy slide back. It's a cliff, often including a lot of suffering and violence. Watch Venezuela for an object lesson in this.

Unknown said...

"Wonder what good old Bern, AOC , Fauxahonas, "Spartacus " et, al might have to say about your experience?"

They don't give a shit. It will never apply to them personally.

ringgo1 said...

I waited until I was old enough to draw 100% social security. The visit to the SS office wasn't too bad, since I called ahead and made an appointment. Everything was going OK until I retired and began drawing Texas Teachers' Retirement. At that point, SS cut my SS payments by 45%. Yea SS! Good job...NOT. You have my sympathy.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Alfonso Bedoya- Congratulations to you and Arizona! Though your story reminds me of my last visit to the DMV; I was standing at a counter with a machine you look into to take the written driver's test. At the station next to me were a man and woman, Hispanic, there to get a license for her. The man explained "she doesn't read English" and the clerk said "that's okay, we'll skip the test." If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'.

@Geoff King- Wow, no renewal needed for 49 years?! Now that's civilized.

@Liberty Card- See, it's that whole "mismanaged retirement plan" thing I've tried to avoid by salting away my own cash. Or "wealth hoarding" as the young communists call it.

@John the Econ-

Alabama: Yep, it's hard to believe that any legislation is going to change much at this point.
Adversity Score: Anything "merit based" is an affront to the Left. Which won't work out well when we have graduates from medical school with no qualifications other than having lived in a shit heap with a drug addicted mother.
Reading Mueller aloud: They can't understand what they read and they don't have the attention spans to listen. A completely pointless exercise.
unSocial inSecurity: In 2015, it was estimated that Social Security gave away $7.64 billion in improper payments. Meanwhile, they're boning my family and selecting possible frauds to investigate based on random chance so as not to offend any certain demographic groups. And yes, medicine is heading in this direction - which is to say "downhill fast."

@Doug- Amen, brother!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@John the Econ- Great points!

@Sortahwitte- Nice save with the "you know I'm only kidding." (grin) But I'm afraid things really could get, um, kinetic if we keep seeing the kind of abuse we're getting from Washington.

@Desert Rose- Run! Run from California! I'm convinced that it's actual policy for a lot of government agencies to just turn down claims without even examining them, under the assumption that few people will have the tenacity to appeal, appeal again, and then do it several more times.

@Shelly- Currently, my wife and I are paying $12,000 a year for Medicare coverage. A lot of people who think "Medicare for all" equates to free treatment will be in for a rough surprise.

@Rod- Fantastic comments abounding with good (albeit depressing) points. Thanks for taking the time to write all this!

@Mr. Goose- I'm not sure I have that option, but will look into it for sure!

@MAJ Arkay- We applied for the benefits online too, but ran afoul of the "let's pull random names on which to conduct fraud investigations" policy which required us to wait three hours to hand someone a freaking driver's license. And yeah, I might just file soon under the assumption that a bird in the hand now is better than being given the bird by the government a couple of years from now.

@Colby Muenster- Glad that it turned out to be a false alarm, even though you suffered real alarm.

@Old Cannonballs- Damn, wish I'd thought of the mooing thing yesterday...

@mamafrog- See, you annoy the Big State types when you say things like "I want to pay my own way as much as possible." That sounds suspiciously like independence, and they certainly don't want that catching on. As far as your reference to "undocumented pay," I say "right on!" This is the kind of workaround Rod mentioned here in the comments that helped people survive living in the USSR.

@John the Econ- Yep. Not that enough people seem to be watching Venezuela at all.

@Unknown- Exactly. There's a reason they think of us as "peons," and it's because we're on the lower floor of their two-story outhouse.

@ringgo1- We HAD an appointment, though that didn't seem to mean anything. And like you, Mrs. J will eventually have her social security benefits slashed because of her modest pension from the City of Dallas. This whole fustercluck was about whether she could get $400 a month. Not exactly an avalanche of riches.

Navyvet said...

This will be the epitome of Government Run Health care. ie Ever been to VA??

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Navyvet- I've never been to the VA because I wasn't in the military. That being said, few things make me as furious as the poor or nonexistent treatment received by way too many of our vets. That's not just a national disgrace, it's an effing sin and needs to be rectified NOW.

NVRick said...

Regarding the dems reading the Mueller report: I have believed that any bill proposed in the legislature should be read from the floor by the rep or senator who wrote it. When finished reading, questions could be asked about any consequences or penalties which could result if it was passed. If this happened, most bills would be less than five pages long and written so anyone could understand it.

John the Econ said...

The Adversity Score: I'm thinking of the things I did as a teenager that supposedly enhanced my college admissions appeal; Involvement in the community, leadership roles in high school and church, was a Boy Scout, volunteering, wide range of intellectual interests and skills. If I was a teenager today, it seems as though most of that would be a waste of time.

In fact, I suspect that today pointing out that your were involved in a church and were a member of the Boy Scouts would probably kill your score. They'd much rather see that I'd knocked over a convenience store or something, or was suffering some form of what used to be considered mental illness.

unSocial inSecurity: This is not popular to point out, but it's important to understand that Social Security was never intended to be a retirement plan. In fact, it was conceived as an insurance scheme. As with any legitimate insurance paradigm, to be viable it's supposed to be designed so that most people do not get to collect from it. Needless to say, over the last half-century like with "health insurance", the idea of this scheme being insurance has virtually disappeared.

The problem was that on average women live several years longer than men on average, and as health care become more common, institutional, complex and expensive, as men's health started failing in older age, married couples would end up blowing most of their retirement savings on the failing health of the husband. When these men eventually, they were leaving leaving women destitute. Social Security was intended to save widows from ending up on the street.

When implemented in the middle of the last century, most people did not live beyond 65 years of age. So relatively few people would be expected to live long enough to collect. Because of this, originally the "premium" deducted from people's pay for Social Security was very, small. But as time went on, national health improved and life became physically easier, people started living longer. Much longer. So now the average life expectancy in the US has gone up over 20 years and is now somewhere around 85. Unfortunately, and for obvious political reasons, the age to collect was not regularly adjusted as would have been for any viable insurance scheme. Social Security was never intended a large number of people to be able to collect for two decades or more after retiring. In the meantime as the taxes deducted went from 1.5% to the 12.4% that it is today. As the tax extracted to pay for this rose, so did people's expectation that they should be entitled to "collect" the money they paid in. And that is where we find ourselves today; a system that makes no actuarial sense that is woefully underfunded for people who expect to be able to live off of it for 20 years or more.

American Cowboy said...

A few years ago I had to go to a local social security office to take care of some business for my father who was having some understandable difficulties acting as executor of my mothers estate.

Of course when I tried to go through the metal detector and it "alarmed" I had to remove everything from my pockets, remove my belt and buckle, take of my snapped shirt, and try again. It "alarmed" and as there was nothing else to remove they used the wand to check me.

A few decades prior I had a three level neck fusion after being hung up on a pretty rank bronc and they asked why the wand kept going off at neck level. I told them what it must be. They refused to take my word and said I had to REMOVE EVERY PIECE OF METAL on my person. The end result was that they refused admittance to the building, and I asked them if they REALLY wanted me to open up my neck so they could see the metal plate.

Now I have been told t hat surgical metal does not register on those "security" devices, but my experience says otherwise.

Perhaps THAT is the reason the social security administration needed to obtain those reported 174,000 hollow-point bullets.

All-in-all I would rather have a prostate exam performed by Captain Hook than deal with the SSA.

mamafrog said...

Honestly Stilton, you would almost have been better off taking the money out of your check each payday and hiding it in jars in the yard in the dead of night.

JustaJeepGuy said...

Another problem (and maybe the biggest) with SS is that there once was actual money there, but LBJ and the Demo_Rats decided they could use it to buy Demo_Rat votes if they expanded eligibility to people who were disabled or other people who had never paid in a cent. Well, that worked out for the Demo_Rats all right, but apparently those who have a sense of personal responsibility just have to bend over and keep paying for the scammers and thieves. I really loathe the Demo_Rats.

james daily said...

I learned something today from the above. The Drivers License. States want to give illegals DLs not for driving but for scamming SS. I think all the above that had to only show a DL at the SS office is proof positive the SS rules have changed and we were not told about this. One of you should write a congressperson and ask about it. If that is the case, which I am sure it is, I'll also bet President Trump knows nothing about it.

Boligat said...

@Stilty: At the DMV "The man explained "she doesn't read English" and the clerk said "that's okay, we'll skip the test." If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'."

When my wife, a non citizen, went in to renew her driver's license the clerk asked if she wanted to register to vote (motor voter). I told the clerk no because my wife wasn't a citizen and couldn't vote anyway. The clerk shook her head and said that if she changed her mind she could just come in and take care of it. I had to tell her twice before she got it through her head that my wife was not a citizen and couldn't vote.

Rod said...

@American Cowboy
Yep, those security cops at SS offices take their job real seriously. I was at a SS office not long ago when a fellow came in and went through the quiz and inspection. He passed at first but then the security guy saw a pair of scissor handles in his hip pocket and nearly went nuts. It turned out they were plastic-handled round-nosed safety scissors from a kindergarden they guy had forgotten forgotten about; and the entire room was laughing so hard; it was hilarious. The security guy let him off with a lecture; but he was uneasy about it.

Linda Fox said...

Personally, my experiences at SS offices has been largely positive; the staff is knowledgeable, and they have been quite pleasant.

My only beef is that, as a retired teacher, I lose about 45% of my check to WEP - Windfall Elimination Profit Act. If I pick up more qualifying years, I will 'claw back' some of the money. So, I work part-time for now.

My husband and I are both lucky (happened to work in different states with different rules), and smart (early on, decided to put money into retirement savings). We lived frugally, paid off bills, and have sufficient income from different sources that I THINK we should be OK. I have many friends who did not prepare for their old age, who are living in assisted housing/public housing, unable to manage without EBT and other government programs, and dependent on those checks. If the system cannot pay all their obligations, those friends are screwed.

One of the best things about staying married is that you can maximize your efforts to get, and stay, solvent. A lot of people I know lost money due to divorce, aside from the extra expense of maintaining 2 houses.

Joe Jetson said...

"I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@NVRick- That's the best idea I've heard in a long time!

@John the Econ- In view of "The Adversity Score" mentality, I'm sure the character-building activities in your past would be included in your "Privilege Score" - a number which is subtracted from your SAT. And wow, your summary of what Social Security really is (versus what it was intended to be) is absolutely correct. And I'll add from a personal perspective (that I bet a LOT of people currently share) I not only want to "collect" from Soc Sec because I paid IN so much, but because I see the government paying OUT so much to illegals and other undeserving sorts. Is that a selfless attitude that's good for the country? Absolutely not - but that's how pissed off I am.

@American Cowboy- Holy crap! If I had to go through that kind of TSA nonsense I would have flipped out. And yeah, why DOES Social Security need so much ammunition?

@mamafrog- You're right to a certain extent. Except instead of hiding my savings in jars, I put some of it in a retirement account and used it to invest in Apple and Netflix. That money appreciated and, bonus, doesn't smell of pickles. (grin)

@JustaJeepGuy- Like I said somewhere above, the SSA annually gives out around $8 billion to people who don't deserve it. I'm willing to kick in my fair share to help people who genuinely need help, but that doesn't really seem to be how the system works anymore.

@james daily- Good point!

@Boligat- I'm just sitting here shaking my head...

@Rod- Hey, that was nothing to laugh at! The guy may have been planning to cut in line...

@Linda Fox- Glad that you've had a better experience with the SS (those initials are striking me as less and less ironic) and I applaud the smart decisions you and your husband have made over the years. That's what my wife and I have done too, while we have plenty of contemporaries who have lived more lavishly but now are looking at next to nothing in savings. However, I resent it when the AOC types want to punish us for having lived responsibly.

@Joe Jetson- Great! Here, stand on this trapdoor...

Fish Out of Water said...

I cannot speak for those living elsewhere, but for government offices like Social Security, et
al., entry level federal service seems to be the employer of last resort. Given that, the ordeals many have described in this edition of Stiltons Place are not surprising.

Rod said...

@Stilton: LOL! Again I'm straight man to a Pro. It's easy for you isn't it? [grin]

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Fish Out of Water- It didn't really seem like any of the employees we encountered were valedictorians. Oh wait, schools are eliminating that title so no feelings get hurt.

@Rod- It's easy for me, but pretty tough on those around me. (grin)

Joseph ET said...

Mrs. ET and I applied on line for our Social Security. I'm the only one that had to report to the office with my photo ID and ORIGINAL Birth Certificate. The visit wasn't too bad because we live in a small town with a small SS office and I made an appointment. They do have a armed, uniformed security person in the waiting area.
My irritation is that I didn't need my Birth Certificate to register to vote and I don't need photo ID to vote. But they claim that there are people that can't get IDs and should be able to vote without them. My question is "How do these same people apply for their Social Security?"
I'll wait . . . .

Dan said...

And then there's the superannuated social security beneficiaries.
Check out this article. It's from 2015, but there's no paywall.'

"More than 4,000 people availed of the government's employment-verification system using Social Security numbers belonging to people over the age of 112. Trouble is fewer than 40 people are known to have reached that age. "

Good to know. They probably all vote Democrat, too.

@Fish Out of Water not only last resort, but there seems to be three people to do the work of one.

John the Econ said...

@Stilton said, "...I not only want to "collect" from Soc Sec because I paid IN so much, but because I see the government paying OUT so much to illegals and other undeserving sorts. Is that a selfless attitude that's good for the country? Absolutely not - but that's how pissed off I am."

And you are correct in feeling that way. And of course, that is way socialism always fails. How long can a formerly prosperous nation survive when most of its citizens are focused on collecting "their fair share" instead of on being productive?

Not long.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Joseph ET- That's a fine question! I'm guessing that those folks who (ahem) can't get ID's are helped by social workers to collect benefits.

@Dan- Nice to know that one of the "benefits" of Social Security is extreme longevity.

@John the Econ- Exactly. And I don't feel good about it, but damned if I'm going to stand aside and just watch as everyone else takes their "fair share" out of my wallet and brings the whole system closer to crashing. No, I'll get what I can, when I can, and try to salt it away for my family to help them survive the socialist apocalypse.

John the Econ said...

@Stilton, you know how I feel too. Like I've said here many times here before, I had expectations that by now I'd be preparing to retire in my 50s because "HillaryCare" would be a reality, and the 5-figures we are now spending on health care would be transferred to my income taxes, which, of course, are based upon my income. There was very little I could control regarding my health insurance expense, but I have total control over my labor, and therefore my income. Liberated from the need to pay for health care, I could seriously consider retirement (or at least partial retirement) since any additional labor beyond a certain point would be taxed at a seemingly pointless-to-work rate. I'd be happy to let the millennials who think that socialism is going to be such an awesome deal for them pick up the tab for my health care for the next 30+ years.

But that didn't happen. Trump did, and the economy woke out of a decade-long slumber engendered by the blanket the Democrats had smothered it with. My income went up. So did my taxes, but less than my income. I much prefer it this way. I like working. I like being a productive member of society. I don't want to be a looter, but I also refuse to be a slave. I didn't make these rules, but I'm prepared to play by them.

Old 1811 said...

Too bad you had such a bad experience.
I'm in kinda the same situation as Mrs. S, being a CSRS retiree with enough quarters at a real job to qualify for Social Security. Our financial advisor told us not to go to our local SSA office, which is staffed by---well, he didn't exactly use the term "Alpha Hotels," but that's what he meant---and to go to the one two towns away. So we did. With an appointment. Our case was called on time, and the service we got was great. My wife and I have both spent a lifetime around Government offices, and our experience there was the most pleasant experience we'd ever had in one. We told the SSA representative that, too.
Not all Government offices are hellpits staffed with soulless bureaucrats.

Wahoo said...

Re: those annoyed by the photos of Trump and Pence at the SSA office, it's only fair considering CNN is the only TV "news" network allowed at airports in the US.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@John the Econ- Well expressed, as always. "I don't want to be a looter, but I also refuse to be a slave. I didn't make these rules, but I'm prepared to play by them." Exactly right - if the "rules" are going to cause everything to come crashing down and I can't change them, then I'd be a fool not to grab and stockpile what I can. And I hate that.

@Old 1811- Encouraging to hear that some of the less frequented offices may be better. Next time, we may take our case to the boonies and enjoy a pleasant day trip.

@Wahoo- In fairness, I didn't see anyone visibly upset by the pictures...but I'll bet I was right in my assumption. And speaking of TV screens (like in the airports), it honked me off that there were two large TV monitors with rotating messages in different languages. One of the screens was in cyrillic (basically Russian) making me wonder what in the living Hell was happening to Texas.

Alfonso Bedoya said...

I never knew that Kamala Harris had "dated"(a term that no longer implies sharing dinner and a movie, and maybe stargazing) Willie Brown (he turned 85 in March). As points out:

"In 1995, she began dating Brown, then Assembly speaker and one of the most powerful men in California politics. Brown put Harris on the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the California Medical Assistance Commission, part-time posts that supplemented her prosecutor’s salary with nearly $100,000 in extra annual pay."

John the Econ said...

As I tell my Progressive friends, "Your problem isn't that we disagree. You're problem is going to be when I give up and join you."

When people like me decide to quit being net-producers and transform to net-consumers, the kids who think that socialism is going to be a great deal for them will be the ones taking the real hit in the long run.

capt fast said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
capt fast said...

upon my retirement, I visited the SSA office in Jefferson county co. I had an appointment. I had all my ducks in a row as far as paperwork goes. It took me and the agent I spoke with fifteen minutes to finish. We spoke about the 450 Hispanic non-citizens out in the waiting room applying for anything they could get for free. he told me they were going to get it,too. and when I exited the building, there was a line outside to just get into the building.
thru planning and foresight on my part, I had managed to make one final accomplishment in my working life and that was to retire officially on April Fools Day. I love it.
I now have my income stream set up so that the net result is zero federal and zero state income tax. In a state where the government ignores the state constitution requirement to ask the voters for tax increases instead of just spending other peoples money willy nilly, I figure screw em. me latest plan is to sell everything I own and move to texas and rabble rouse for succession from the union for the feds failure to defend the border.
the youth of today and those coming of age after are doing themselves an injustice thinking that twenty five trillion dollars debt is not enough. nothing is free in this world. pay as you go because the interest rate will be a bitch.

Anonymous said...

Just think, SS is considered to be a crowning success of democracy!