Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - At the Social Security Administration Office

Last week, I had an appointment at the local Social Security Administration office. I was representing my mother to apply for the one time spousal death benefit she was entitled to.

I wasn't sure what I would encounter as the appointment was made before the government shutdown. While monthly Social Security payments were not effected, I wasn't sure if other types of benefits would be put on hold. I also heard several scare stories of people who had appointments but were never called or had to wait hours past their appointed time.

A couple of days before the appointment, I received a robo-call appointment reminder. I took that as a good sign. On the day of the appointment, I arrived early and had my choice of parking spots. Another good sign. Inside the door, I passed through security and the guard directed me to an automated kiosk where I was given a number. When my number was called a clerk verified I had an appointment, and I had another wait until my name was called shortly after my appointed time. So far, so good.

A  Public Contact Representative escorted me to the inner office and her desk. I was armed with documents: A letter from the nursing home and a statement from the nursing home physician stating my mother was not able to make decisions and I was her representative, letters from the Probate Court appointing me Ma's permanent guardian and conservator, my father's death certificate (the funeral director had given me half a dozen with the Commonwealth seal affixed to it). Back at the end of August, I had ordered a copy of my parents' marriage certificate from the Office of Vital Records. Because I thought I would need the document right away, I had it sent next day delivery so the cost to me was $75.00. Note to self, next time find out when the appointment will be to save yourself some dough) Because I had spent so much for the document, I didn't want to hand over the original so I made a copy and brought that. The copy turned out to be my only mistake. The representative wanted to be able to feel the seal and the documents returned to me.

I thought I would have to go back another day, but she handed me an envelope with her desk routing number. She assured me once she had the official copy with the seal, she would finish the paperwork so the death benefit payment would go through. She assured me, she would return the certificate.

All in all the process wasn't bad. I was in and out of the office in an hour.


  1. $75! GASP!
    As far as dealing with bureaucratic red tape....I think it helps to expect the worst. That way you're either prepared or happily surprised!

  2. Sounds like some departments are still 100 years behind the times if they need to feel an official seal instead of just cross referencing on a computer!