I am going to be on a soap box today kiddies. I am about to have my own personal war with the Social Security office. Social Security — now that’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one.
My mother passed away in June of last year. She died at the end of the month so her July Social Security payment was automatically deposited into my account, as her representative payee. This money has been sitting in my checking account for the last 7 months.
This has been an extremely frustrating and quite unbelievable last few months – so take a trip with me down “going postal” lane.
First, my bank put a “treasury department” hold on my checking account for the $1445.00 that was deposited after my mother’s death. I called the Social Security office to find out how to get this money back to them – and their oh so logical response was – just write us a check. As I patiently tried to explain that I couldn’t write a check for the money, because Social Security (aka Treasury Department) has a hold on it… to which I was informed that they did not, in fact, have a hold on the money.
Next, I contacted the bank to see what could be done. Amazingly, they “don’t have” a person they can contact about transferring the money back. Clearly, they only process the electronic transactions and don’t have a contact person at the treasury department. Humm! Whatever.
So, I make a blind stab at contacting someone at the treasury department – and surprise, surprise, I was told that they do not place holds on people’s checking accounts… Right. When I tried to ask a few more questions of this most helpful employee, he hung up on me. I did call him back to ask him who his supervisor was and was informed that he didn’t have a supervisor. So with all the grace I could muster at this time of stress – I said, “so you’re the king of the treasury department” and he said yes and hung up.
So apparently NO ONE is responsible. Not surprising.
After repeated attempts to contact my local Social Security office – I finally wrote a letter to them to get some help – since contact by phone was not actually possible. I did get a phone call from a blocked number (which of course I never answer) and guess who it was? So I frantically call the number back – and, I know you know this before I even write it, it went straight to voice mail.
With a few more attempts and voice mails under my belt, I wait patiently for another 3 or 4 days to get another phone call. This is how we communicated for several weeks. I would call and leave a message – then she would call and leave me a message (because I’m not answering blocked calls).
In the meantime, I am starting to receive threatening letters from the mob stating that Social Security would garnish my wages, retain my income tax refunds, take my first born child – you get the picture. So I decide that it is in my best interest to set up a payment plan so it at least looks like I am trying to get their money back to them. Keep in mind, they have a hold on my checking account for $1445.00 already – so this money is over and above the Monopoly money in my account.
Once I was approved for a payment plan, I foolishly thought that I could show my bank this agreement and magically, the Treasury Department hold would be taken off my money. How completely ignorant I am. Now, I’m paying in my money – the hold is still on the money in my account – and IF the Treasury Department ever reverses the money, I’ve been told by the bank that it will be for the full $1445.00. So how do I ever get back the money I am paying with the payment plan.
The bank informed me that if I could secure a letter from the Social Security office stating that they no longer wanted the hold to be on my account, that she could miraculously take this information to the Supreme Court – oh, I mean their Board, and MAYBE have the hold taken off the money. So, here we go again with the 3 month ordeal of speaking with someone at the Social Security Office.
Finally, I’m able to talk to the person at the Social Security office that assisted me with the payment plan. After another 2 weeks, I received a piece of paper in the mail that was addressed to me stating that I had a payment plan – nothing to the bank – looked like when a kid writes his own “my dog ate my homework” excuse – no letterhead, no mom’s signature, or anything official looking in sight.
I call back – leave multiple messages and get hold of my Social Security contact after another week. I asked her about addressing the letter to the bank. She told me it had to be approved. A couple of days later, she calls and says her supervisor, Cruella DeVille, told her they could not send a letter to the bank. Stupidly, I ask to speak to the supervisor.
Cruella gets on the phone and informs me that I have to pay this money back in one lump sum. I asked her why they set up a payment plan (seemed logical to me) if I couldn’t have a payment plan. She said they should have never set up a payment plan and that I needed to have my bank send the money back.
Oh for cryin’ out loud. Is this really America? Land of the free, home of the brave? What have I been asking for? Take the money, PLEASE.
So now, I contact my bank again – tell them that Social Security says to send the money back. I give them the authorization (like I have any authority) to take the money and send it back – don’t pass go, don’t collect $200 dollars… send the root of all evil back.
Moving along down the postal road, the bank now informs me that “their records show they have not received a copy of my mother’s death certificate.” I politely inform them that my records show that no one has asked me for one.
Last night, I returned home after attending a pleasant evening of Christian music with my lovely daughter – feeling spiritually uplifted, etc. when I look at the day’s mail. There, sitting in the pile, is a notice from Social Security saying that they have sent this same notification to my employer – to begin garnishing my wages. Seriously? Are you kidding me? The money is sitting in the bank – just take it! Why do you want to publicly embarrass me at work for something that is NOT my fault – and is obviously COMPLETELY beyond my control. Welcome to the Twilight Zone. Also enclosed was my monthly invoice for my monthly payment that Cruella told me I could not have. (Our fine government hard at work.)
I believe that they purposely mail this type of notification so that it is received on a Friday night, after “normal business hours” – as if you could actually reach someone by phone anyway – to reduce the possibility of people going down “Postal Lane” while they are in the peak of frustration.
I don’t by any means condone the recent incident where a man flew his plane into the IRS office in Austin due to his frustration in dealing with them – and I have a whole separate blog I could write about frustration with the IRS – but thank God I am a sane person (okay, that could be a matter of opinion) – it’s scary, but sometimes you can see how people end up on the trip down “Going Postal” Lane. I’ve been so frustrated over this that I have smoke coming out my ears and have started breathing fire – or maybe just riding a broom – or maybe I’ve just become that word that rhymes with the person that rides the broom…did I mention I have a bunch of puppies?