When The Man (TM) handed me the envelope and said, "Social Security sends their love," I had the sinking feeling that they had rejected my claim. I didn't want to open it. But I didn't want anyone else to open it, either. So I waited until after dinner (like my appetite wasn't already ruined), popped it open, and scanned down through the bureaucratese to the good stuff. Yep, they rejected me, all right.
Now, I wasn't really surprised and I wasn't really being negative about the situation. TM had thought I was, but then he talked to a bunch of people at school and around town about it, and they all agreed that everyone gets rejected the first time; some even said it takes an average of three tries before you get accepted-- unless you hire a lawyer for your appeal. Then it's almost automatic.
I think it's important to note that in general my esteem for various government agencies is a lot higher on average than most people's simply because I've worked for and with them. (This will come up again later.) But boy, my respect for the SS people just sank.
I remember part of my rant (and believe me, it was going to be a rant-- and probably still is) involved my first reaction to their pronouncement-- specifically, the words "Are you stupid, or just evil?"
Well, my first reaction, after I stopped laughing enough to breathe. Because although they did accept my statement that I can no longer do the job I worked at most recently (i.e., magazine editor), I should easily be able to return to my previous career as an intelligence analyst! Oh, of course! Without the ability to sit or stand very long and with my mind constantly clouded by the pain medicine... sure, involve me in our country's security, have me writing reports that our president will use to determine whether to choose peace or war... sure.
OK, some of you out there are cynically nodding to yourselves and going, yeah, I always knew that was what went on there... except it doesn't. If I even applied to get my old job back, even provided that I had a chance of moving back to the suburban D.C. area, they'd take one look at my test scores and laugh me out of town. Seriously. I'm still laughing, and it's not even funny. (But that link is. Click it and weep.)
OK, so here's the deal. They tell me I have 60 days from receipt of this letter (and they know when I got it, of course) to ask in writing for a hearing in court. Then I have to sign form xyz-590/3 etcetera, etcetera. Then I have to complete an appeal form telling more about my medical condition since I filed my claim. THEN, a judge will inform me (by the ever-trusty US Postal Service) when my appeal hearing will be. It is bound to be impossible to make. They feel the need to tell me, however, in BIG BOLD PRINT that it is important to go to the hearing. 'Cause I'm stupid or something.
Only, apparently, I'm not. This was their reasoning behind denying my claim. And I quote:
"Although these conditions may cause you concern, a recent exam showed that you are able to think, reason, communicate, remember and follow instructions, and act in your own best interest."Because any condition short of Terri Schiavo's is not the same as, or anywhere near as bad as, being disabled. I begin to sense a plan here. A plan to save Social Security. The means are simple: Never pay out any claims again! Mwahahahahaha!
No, seriously. I'm starting to get the feeling that the answer to my earlier question is the second option. But then TM picks up the letter from where I've dropped it in my gales and convulsions of laughter. He starts reading about the hearing stuff. "You have the right to an attorney... if you cannot afford an attorney... groups who can help... Wait. If you hire an attorney, we will withhold 25 percent of your benefits." Uh huh. And this is because what? Oh yes, because if you hire a lawyer, you're almost certain to win the appeal, and therefore....
I think we have our answer to the earlier question: evil.