Skip to comments.What I Saw At The Social Security Office
Posted on 03/16/2012 8:32:28 AM PDT by relictele
A state DMV office is the stock-standard exemplar of government bureaucracy, sloth and outright hostility but I recently had occasion to visit a Social Security office. At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, the Feds make the states look like amateurs.
But government in all its forms particularly their indefatigable Fagin-like clawing at small coins was on proud display even before I entered the hallowed halls of Social Security. I used on-street parking and fed the meter a few quarters. At one point it jammed, which caused the yellow violation flag to appear. After a bit of man-against-meter Greco-Roman wrestling it complied and I received 75 cents worth of parking for the $1.50 in quarters I supplied.
It just so happened that a meter maid was walking by. I nearly asked her about my situation but knew there would be a strong possibility of a refund only being granted after posting a third-class letter to somewhere in the US Minor Outlying Islands and awaiting the results of a six-week forensic investigation by the Department of Coin Rolling. Besides, she was too busy slipping a parking ticket under the wiper of a car with a blue handicapped placard prominently displayed on the dashboard.
On to the Social Security office, located somewhat poetically in the basement. Upon entry you are confronted with a computer sign-in kiosk and a gung-ho security guard seated behind a desk. There are five choices on the screen, he announced. Pick one and take your number from the printer. Alas, no option for Scrap this bankrupt, convoluted train wreck of a Ponzi scheme. Instead of waiting for the choice to be made, he soldiered on with his speech. No guns, knives, sharp objects? Put your cellphone on vibrate! My two-inch penknife was still attached to my keyring, but I elected to stage perhaps the smallest act of rebellion in history by opting not to disclose this fact.
Of three service windows, only one thats 1/3 of available resources for those scoring at home was in use. The others literally had window blinds drawn closed. Already a metaphor-rich environment, then. About half a dozen souls were scattered across the waiting area and it looked like a casting call for a film adaptation of a Stephen King novel. Taking pride of place was AC/DC Man short hair, mustache and glasses, wearing a black t-shirt bearing the bands logo. To be fair, hed hung on to his black-and-turquoise, zebra-print, high-top basketball shoes long enough (two decades plus) for them to be vintage rather than merely out of date. He seemed perplexed by the guards speech and was positively at sea where the take-a-number system was concerned. He eventually found a chair and within 30 seconds began snoring loudly despite being seated upright. Awakened by his own racket, he looked around and remarked to a woman two seats away: I went to bed at 2:30 and got up at 3:30. That aint a good combination! But if its your birthday what else are ya supposed to do? The b-word hung in the air. We are all conditioned to say Happy Birthday but the sad spectacle of a 55 year old man fishing for a birthday greeting was too pathetic for words and so the silence remained except for the heavy breathing through his nose which persisted even now that he was awake. And then his phone rang loudly with one of those frantic Keystone Kops tones. The guard frowned.
The Social Security office had the institutional beige walls and tile floor with three photos of the Great Men President Obama and two others (presumably Social Security figures) affixed to the wall albeit in a wholly unnecessary stair-step arrangement, lest we forget who the top dog is. Placards and posters featuring Star Treks George Takei wearing a faux-Starfleet uniform (braided sleeves but no logos of course Uncle Sam doesnt do royalties) were everywhere on the walls, on a table. Smiling George encouraged us to Boldly Go (geddit?) to the Social Security web site rather than bother them in person. It was the kind of advertising campaign that could only have come from the mind of government because what could be more persuasive than a gay Japanese-American actor from a television series that premiered nearly half a century before? George was joined, inexplicably, by Patty Duke on some of the placards. Patty never appeared on Star Trek (considering she was starring twice over in her own Patty Duke Show at the time) but she wore her velour top with the gold braid just the same.
Back to the action at the window where a couple (?) were pleading their case. Hers was an ensemble featuring a tanktop that gave us a playful glimpse of amateur tattoos on the shoulder blades, visible bra straps and acid wash denim. His was a gray t-shirt, olive drab clamdiggers, and mid-calf black socks combination with provocative flashes of fish belly white legs. Hers was a random birds nest of hair in a shade of blonde not found in nature. His was a ponytail that reached his waist. I dubbed him Bipolar Bill.
I can only do justice to their farcical conversation with the window clerk by quoting it verbatim:
He: Yes maam. I have a mental health problem known as bipolar disorder. I have been getting SSI but it was being sent to a responsible party and I need to change the person receiving it.
(Inaudible response from window clerk)
Her phone began ringing. More Keystone Kops soundtrack. The guard frowned some more.
He: I need to change it to her (gesturing to his companion). Is the next check going out on the first of the month? The person it has been going to is in some trouble with the law so I dont want it going there anymore.
The clerk withdrew and after a slight delay, the door opened. This was a case for the SSI sleuths! They are experts at changing mailing addresses, but not so good at detecting bogus claims of mental illness. Ah, well, it got the line moving again.
Eventually my number was called but not before AC/DC Man strode to the window. Confused by my challenge to his place, he animatedly told the clerk She had A209, I have A210! My own ticket was C389, but I was next in terms of arrival time and that was the ticket she called. This nonsensical system is also used at the state DMV, and its another frightening look inside the bureaucratic mind. They attempt to mask the true length of the queue, apparently, by splitting it. Sequential numbers infinite and understood by everyone since grade school, even AC/DC Man and Bipolar Bill, are replaced by a pointless letters-and-numbers scheme of A112, B483, C235, D549 etc.
At last I could submit my simple (?) request for a replacement Social Security card. Here again was the flower of bureaucracy. I had completed my application electronically (using their PDF file) but the clerk took this hard copy of an electronically completed form and began typing my information into her computer. Hello? What about the web site advertised on every vertical surface of the waiting room? What about Boldly Going? What about George and Patty and their gold braids? Wouldnt giving the citizen the ability to enter his information directly be a much more efficient use of the site, even if identification documents needed to be presented in person later? After taking 10 minutes to type in nothing more than a name, an address, a birth date, a passport number and the names of two parents, the clerk disappeared and returned with a printout. Whew, that was close. I thought someone might get the idea to place a laser printer (small, quiet and fast these days) on her desk where it might be easily reached.
After the guards friendly greeting, it was time for more trust, dignity and respect from our government. Read and confirm all that under penalty of perjury. If you attempt to falsify information or defraud Social Security you can be prosecuted in federal court. It just makes you swell with red, white and blue patriotic pride, doesnt it?
They say Americans dont do irony but any sane person interacting with the US Government will develop the ability rather quickly. The irony of most of us being forced into a system at or near birth without having a say in the decision. The irony of being threatened while attempting to voluntarily comply with the system. The irony of converting electronic data to paper only to watch it converted back to electronic data. The irony of someone 'disabled' enough to require a responsible party but magically able to shed the disability on command in order to change the mailing address of the check when the responsible party turns irresponsible. The irony of a system that functions by confiscating a productive individuals income before it ever reaches that individual only to have it lavished upon the likes of Bipolar Bill and AC/DC Man: able-bodied but made feeble-minded by drunkenness, sloth, ignorance, low expectation, and a government quite eager to perpetuate this dysfunctional symbiosis in order to amass votes and power.
The final irony: I already have a perfectly good Social Security card. Ive held onto the same one since I first received it and it features the fourth-grade cursive version of my signature. To protect it (i.e. to comply) I once had it laminated. But the state DMV refuses to accept a laminated card, no doubt because it might require them to scan or photocopy it more than once in order to obtain an image. And so I had to comply in order to comply.
Of course they would.
Doesn't it say right there, "Not to be used for identification purposes"?
Very well written. And spot on.
Such a shame, the state of our country.
This is a brilliant rant. And very parallel to the experience I had in a Social Security office years ago trying to get my young daughter her SSN, which had not been provided when she was born.
I had to go through two security checkpoints. Then, they killed me. Really....I’m dead now. I went back to try and claim “death” as a disability, but they said they couldn’t do that as dead people can work for the social security administration. I should’ve worn a diaper.
If Barack Obama walked into that Social Security office and asked for a duplicate of his SS card would their response correctly be “which one”?
I retired in February. I am receiving pensions from three Fortune 100 companies for whom I have worked over the 43 years I have been employed. I notified SS first and then the three employers. I got my first monthly payment(direct deposited to my checking account as I requested) from all three companies in March. My first SS payment is supposed to be deposited in April but, they may need to mail me a check if they can’t work out the enormous difficulties of direct deposit by then.
res ipsa loquitor
Had similar expieriences in CA only there war no caucasians anywhere in sight and the only words in english I heard came from the armed gaurd in there room. Of the other 6 or 7 languages being spoken, I did recognize spanish but the eastern european and asian languages were only vaguely familiar.
Very nice writing about a sad, scary situation.
I receive SS as of last year. No problem getting direct deposit, however when it is coming is anyone’s guess. From the 3-23 of the month.
You would think that these checks are just spit out by computer and wired on the same day each month.
In line for hours viewing sluts in PJ bottoms and tube tops with babies, no baby daddy, looking for SSI, fat-asses in too-short T's and bermuda pants in a rented wheelchairs looking for SSDI.
Tons and tons of old parent foreigners accompanied presumably by their newly immigrated anchor-children looking to sign them up for SS (apparently there are reciprocal agreements wherein payment of 1 rial,rupee, or squashbug per week translates to a bonafide SS payment and full credit).
My number finally called. Met at the door by some woman who identified herself as Mr. TokenSSAJob's 'Facilitator'.... I was escorted behind the circus tent and introduced to Mr. TokenSSAJob himself. blind as a bat sitting at a keyboard and computer screen. Ms. Facilitator READ each line of the application to him as he magically typed everything and then a USA ADA representative danced out of a corner, shook some chicken bones and threw them on the table and blessed the accomplishment.
I never got the card...had to repeat the whole thing again. After much convincing of the incredulous lady I got to plead to, finally got another one a month later.
When I applied for my SS this time, thankfully I did it online and actually got hold of some dear lady somewhere in the country who actually knew what she was doing.
I suspect there's a huge variation in quality of service between various SS offices and their typical clientele.
The ones you see in person are mostly idiots and token hires. The smart ones who know about computers and actually know there job handle the online stuff.
Hate to say it, but, where I live, the Tax Office and DMV are models of efficiency.
I’m not using a bit of sarcasm here. They really are.
For instance, if they keep you waiting more than 15 minutes in the DMV, your license fee is waived. Really.
Forsyth County, Georgia DMV: fast, efficient, polite. Its like going to a Chick-fil-A!
My last couple of visits to the NJDMV were surprisingly quick and relatively painless. I was treated with courtesy by folks acting in a professional manner, and with no hint of hostility.
Of course, I had read all the requirements and come prepared with the pertinent items ready for processing. That might make a difference!
I purchased a vehicle out of state for which I received the title, sales receipt, safety inspection report, and insurance card. Since I had to work during the hours the DMV was open I sent a family member to drop off the forms I had mailed to me (You can't get the vehicle registration form on line even though you can get the application for a temporary dealer's license and the permit to operate a parking facility) And pick up the temporary plates so I can get the truck and drive it 60 miles to have the official state sniffer shoved up the tailpipe and go through the process all over again.
After three trips to the DMV in one day including one to get a copy of my license and an article of mail They said I had to appear in person and could not have a representative get the plates. I have to simply appear and then, and only then, will they hand over the plates. I also need to have the thing towed over the state line because I need to go through a state that does not recognize temporary plates.
I'm starting to think there is somebody behind a desk somewhere that just thinks up the most ridiculous hoops to make people jump through to comply with arcane and silly regulations.
Paging Mr. Orwell...
Sad but well done. I expected the whole affair would have been much worse.
Social Security, in their shining new offices here, is another gubment place I avoid like the plague. I did have a client in the same office building where the local IRS facilities are located. Between the smoking refugees out in the parking garage and the spectacle of lunch and quitting time, which seems to begin just about any time after lunch, you get a good view of the fine civil servants who are getting to look into the most private areas of your life and the keys to the security of your financial present and future. Chilling does not begin to come close to the fear it strikes in me to witness this spectacle, parade of miscreants and equal opportunity employment poster people.
I took my 18-year-old son in to the Minnesota DMV to get him a state ID card. Not a license, just a state ID so he could get a job. After an interminable wait, I was finally summoned to a window where a surly clerk GUARDED BY AN ARMED OFFICER demanded two forms of ID. I soon found out that the guard served another purpose: he acted as an interpreter. The clerk could not speak a word of English.
So there I stood, forced to prove the citizenship of my native-born son before a woman who was likely in the country illegally. Oh, and the "guard" was a Somali.
To top it off, my papers were not in order and my son was not able to get the ID card.
I once worked in an office building that also housed the IRS. If you think government health initiatives aimed at the general population are overbearing, the ones directed at its own employees are worse.
Still, the IRS staffers gladly accepted the advice to walk laps around the parking lot during the lunch hour in order to promote fitness. The only trouble was that most of them continued to amble around well past the one hour mark and many never returned inside the building. They also tended to take long stationary breaks from the walk and many enjoyed more than one cigarette - I’m guessing that wasn’t part of the directive.
Oh, and don’t dream of being in front of the doors at 3:30 quitting time. This was well before 9/11 but they all flew out of the building like someone had phoned in a bomb threat.
If you like the bureaucracy of the DMV and social security, you'll love Obamacare.
Most of the Social Security office waiting areas I have seen are filled with middle aged minorities with kids in tow sitting around diddling on their $200.00 smart phones.
“Oh, and dont dream of being in front of the doors at 3:30 quitting time.”
So, considering their 1 hour lunch break to trip the light fantastic around the parking lot, they started work at 0630 to get in an honest 8 hours work plus the hour for lunch?
Of course they did!!!
When they work the increasingly frequent 9/80 schedule where they get ever-other-Friday off and only work 1/2 day on the Friday they are supposed to be at the office... they somehow manage not to show up at all for the Friday they are supposed to work.
In case you have never heard of the 9/80 way of life it is supposed to be eight 9 hour days + one 8 hour day plus one day off each two weeks that somehow turns into what looks more like eight 8 hour days per two weeks for most people.
I think this whole 9/80 thing foolish since 8 hours a day came about as a result of that being when most people begin to lose efficiency and need some rest. Anybody that tells you they regularly work 12 hours a day (save for rotation workers) day after day after day is superhuman or taking economies with the truth.
We work 12 hour shifts on the rigs and come home every 21 / 28 days and need to. We work 12 hour days in the office when we rotate 28 days on and 28 days off when commuting overseas. You’re well ready to get on the plane and come home to rest after that shift. Stateside the days in the office for operations people tend towards 10 hours a day or more and that is enough.
Thanks for the laughs, it takes the sting out just a bit to see what the amber is doing to the fruitfly it encases and embalms.
My minor experiences include the time I discovered that the building location designated for tax forms had no parking area, leaving me to park on the sidewalk, rush inside, find the forms kiosk bereft of the the majority of forms, go to the desk, be ignored while being subjected to the following conversation:
Govt drudge #1: You got a new tattoo? Let’s see it.
Obese govt drudge #2: Take a look! (Lifts pajama like garment to display a hairy, enormous white belly with a raw, raspberry-colored cloud of skin ink that may have been a swan or a three-armed midget in orange pants)
Govt drudge #1: Cool! I just had my third piercing done, check it out!(turns jaw to show off what used to be an ear, but which now looks like the a pair of champagne corks and a swizzle stick wrapped in bacon)
Me(brightly): Say! Can I get Form I-4600?!
Both turned to look at me with contempt, Drudge #2: Someone will be along to help you.(Vaguely pointing at a closed door) If they don’t you can always come back later.
They then picked themselves up and walked off, leaving me in front of a completely empty counter.
Speaking of Februarys...my mother died on the 27th of a February, and the next month, SSA had the bank yank back the entire February stipend.
Walking into a California DMV youy can see the employees wearing SEIU shirts all over the place....taking a number and waiting is unbelieveable and not just that they have shortened days and hours they are open...the State is bankrupt and they keep giving away freebies instead of providing necessary services. It will all come to a head soon, with taxpayers leaving California due to increased taxes, who will pay the freight? Idiot Jerry Brown in charge, still trying to squeeze blood from turnips.
I needed a renewal of my DL last year...6 minutes from walking in to walking out with the new one.
Just got new tags for my truck yesterday...less than 5 minutes.
I'll readily admit to living is a sparsely populated area so that's a factor.
I've only visited the SS office once in my life...15 minute wait because there were a few people ahead of me, but once I was seated at the clerk's desk, she was knowledgeable, efficient and helpful...(so much so, I sent her flowers afterward because she pointed out things I didn't know which were an advantage to me).
Over the years, I've lived in different states and know of which you speak, but that's not the experience here.
Just wait until the same crew of morons are deciding your medical treatment “options” as in, no option.
Hahaha. My wife works at an SSA office. The stories of customers and the gov’t regs makes an interesting mix.
I can’t wait to watch her read this tonight!!!
Thanks for posting!
Not every SS experience is bad. I applied on line, as advised, three months before I was eligible to receive payments. First direct deposit arrived right on time.
Passport renewal, which we had to do in person of course, left me stunned. At the federal building in Honolulu, after some confusion finding the office, we were greeted by smiling staff who helpfully completed the process in a few minutes. We chatted about our plans, they wished us well on our adventure and we were back in the car with half an hour remaining on the meter.
We have to renew our drivers licenses next year though. d:^(
I’m still laughing. The comments are hilarious.
My only experience worth noting when I signed up for Medicare was that I experienced an incredulous clerk who axed me why I waited a whole year after turning 65 to sign up for the program,(procrastination) reminding me that I was going to “get less” now because I signed up late...
to which I responded that with all that Obama has done for the country and our federal entitlement programs, it’s a wonder that any of them are still functional.
The word “Obama” made her eyes get big and for a full 30 seconds(though it seemed much longer), she stopped snapping her gum and stared at me, doing a great Buckwheat impression.
She then recovered from her reverie(probably recalling the columns and the fainting of her friends and family) and finished the paperwork in what seemed to be record time.
Ahhh...Plan A. Check.
I'm more concerned they will determine the approved treatment for constipation to be a 6 foot electrified spike.
I hope I never have to step foot in another Social Security office as long as I live. I don't know which was worse: the clientele, the employees, or the prominent picture of Comrade Zero displayed on the wall.
Man, did FDR leave a steaming pile of crap for us.
Since I’m only 6’1” that’s a serious concern for me as well. :)
I believe some private businesses don’t accept a laminated SSN card either, especially if you try to use it to apply for a mortgage/loan. How about after 9/11, identity theft/terrorism issues have been so sensitive? I heard about that in old days, you could just walk into an SSA office without any ID and get a SSN card declaring whoever you were. And probably it would take less time and trouble to do it. It’s getting much more intense, it’s for sure.
You’re killin’ me!
It’s posts like these and replies like FReeper Gaffer that keep me comin’ back to FR.
Thank you. For a REALLY well written account, but more, for making me laugh in spite of the sad state of affairs in our beloved nation. They say the sense of humor is the last thing to go... Lord, I hope so.
May God bless you and yours FRiend.
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