My spouse has slightly plaque hanging on the wall of her artwork studio. She’s a fiber artist who makes quilted landscapes and one thing known as “temari,” that are ornamental Japanese thread balls. She sells her wares in an area artwork gallery. If you wish to see her work, simply go to www.fiberartsbybecky.com. Anyway, that plaque, which she bought once we each retired in 2005, says: “Assist me! My husband retired and he would not have a passion!”
I used to be considering of that plaque once I opened my electronic mail inbox at this time. There have been scores of letters from readers of my column. I in all probability get tons of of emails each week from throughout the nation. And for probably the most half, I am not complaining — and my spouse is rejoicing. Answering these emails has develop into my passion. It retains me out of her hair and out of … effectively, by no means thoughts. However you get my drift. My spouse can work on her little crafts in peace upstairs whereas I work on my “passion” downstairs. (That is a part of the key to a 47-year marriage!)
You will observe I mentioned I am not complaining “for probably the most half.” I like serving to folks perceive Social Security’s guidelines and rules. And I like answering their common questions on this system. However frankly, I am perplexed when folks come to me with questions or points that I merely can not assist them with.
For instance, one of many emails I bought at this time went like this: “I get a small Social Security examine and my husband’s profit is way bigger. How do I discover out if I can get any additional advantages on his report?” Effectively, the plain reply (apparent to me anyway) is to contact the Social Security Administration. Merely name them at their toll-free quantity: 800-772-1213.
One other electronic mail mentioned: “I’m about to show 62 and I wish to file for my Social Security. Are you able to assist me with this?” Effectively, no I can not. As soon as once more, you have to name SSA at 800-772-1213. Or higher but, file on-line at their web site: www.socialsecurity.gov.
Nonetheless different readers ship me LONG emails that, due to the excessive quantity of mail I get, I merely shouldn’t have time to decipher. These lengthy emails normally take two varieties.
One variety comes from readers who’re in search of monetary recommendation. They supply me with their whole work historical past, marital historical past, earnings historical past and a partner’s work and earnings historical past. They steadily inform me about all their belongings and liabilities. They ask me to assist them make retirement plans and inform them when they need to file for Social Security advantages. Whereas I do respect their thoroughness, I actually solely have time to rapidly scan their electronic mail, and I nearly at all times inform them: “I’m not a monetary planner. I am simply an outdated retired Social Security man. As such, all I can do is clarify Social Security guidelines. And I simply cannot try this in a fast electronic mail. So I strongly advocate you spend 10 bucks and get my little Social Security guidebook known as “Social Security — Easy and Good.” One of many chapters in that e book explains when and how you can file for Social Security. I feel it’ll reply all of your questions.”
The opposite type of lengthy electronic mail I get from readers are the type which are ranting and raving about some perceived injustice with the Social Security system. (I bought one this week that went on for 3 pages!) There actually is nothing I can do to assist these folks different than simply give them an opportunity to vent!
Nonetheless different readers ship me emails through which they’re complaining about service they bought, or that they’re attempting to get, from the Social Security Administration. Generally they inform me they cannot get by way of to SSA’s toll-free service line (800-772-1213). Or they talked to somebody at SSA and did not like the reply they bought. Or they’re attempting to resolve some drawback with their advantages, and so they assume the decision is taking too lengthy. They normally ask me to intervene or “do one thing” to resolve their drawback.
However frankly, there may be nothing I can do in these conditions. With respect to getting assist on the 800 quantity, all I can recommend is endurance. You might need to attend on maintain some time, however somebody will ultimately reply the cellphone. With respect to intervening of their case, these of us ought to know that I’ve been retired from the company for 16 years now and I’ve completely no clout with anybody there. I merely cannot decide up the cellphone, name some official at SSA, and say, “Repair this man’s drawback now!” What I normally do is recommend they ask to talk to a supervisor or supervisor at their native Social Security workplace.
And talking of coping with somebody on the native workplace, I at all times advocate you try this. Some folks assume they’re being good by “going to the highest” — by attempting to cope with somebody at considered one of SSA’s regional places of work and even at their headquarters’ advanced in Baltimore, Maryland. That could be a large waste of time. You’re at all times higher off coping with native workers.
As an example what I imply, let me share this with you. I labored for a few years at SSA’s headquarters exterior of Baltimore. There have been about 10,000 folks working there. And every of these of us had some form of administrative job to do. They weren’t there to assist particular person Social Security recipients. (Once more, that is what native Social Security places of work are for.) Nonetheless, daily, folks would stroll into the primary headquarters’ constructing — a few of them having traveled throughout the nation to take action — and demand to talk to “somebody on the high about my drawback.”
These of us had been ushered into slightly workplace the place I assume they thought they had been speaking to a headquarters’ large shot. In reality, this workplace was staffed by representatives from the Randallstown, Maryland, Social Security workplace — the closest area workplace to SSA headquarters. If that Randallstown rep could not deal with the state of affairs, the case was at all times referred again to the native workplace within the city the place the customer lived — the place the particular person ought to have gone to within the first place to deal with the issue. (I understand that issues are totally different in the meanwhile with many places of work partially closed attributable to COVID-19. So, take into account this long-term recommendation when the world will get again to regular.)
Or when you merely cannot get assist from the workers or administration of your native workplace, then I recommend you contact your native congressional consultant. They at all times have somebody on workers who handles Social Security points.
So, to sum up, come to me when you’ve bought common questions on Social Security or when you can briefly current your individual private concern. (As I mentioned, it actually would assist when you learn my e book first.) However when you’ve bought enterprise with SSA, you are going to must name them at 800-772-1213 or log on at www.socialsecurity.gov. And you probably have an issue, ask to talk to a supervisor, or contact your native member of Congress.
In case you have a Social Security query, Tom Margenau has a e book with all of the solutions. It is known as “Social Security — Easy and Good.” You could find the e book at www.creators.com/books. Or search for it on Amazon or different e book retailers. To search out out extra about Tom Margenau and to learn previous columns and see options from different Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, go to the Creators Syndicate web site at www.creators.com.
Picture credit score: Herm at Pixabay