A-rears or Ass-inine?

Yesterday, I went to the Social Security Office unannounced. It was a big risk. You could be there 20 minutes or three hours. You never know. There was only one couple in the waiting room and one lady at the window talking to a representative. Jackpot!

My number was called in less than five minutes. Clearly, the gods were on my side.

I was in the Social Security Office to check on the missing checks that were to be sent to the children of my brother-in-law. See, there ‘s a rule in Social Security. If a bank receives a check after a recipient has died, the bank must return that check to Social Security.

Now this might make sense to you. However, what you need to know is that Social Security pays in arrears.

What that means is that if  you die in October, and you receive a check in October, you are being paid for September. So that’s still your check, alive or dead. You lived all of September. You get paid for September. Admittedly, if you don’t tell Social Security that you died ( well, okay if someone else doesn’t tell them that you died), and those checks continue to go into your bank account they should be returned to Social Security.

But here’s the rub. Almost every funeral home alerts Social Security that  you’ve died and the whopping $255 death benefit will be sent to the beneficiary. It’s a nice favor that funeral homes do.

And yet, 99 times out of 100 that monthly check that the bank returned to Social Security does indeed belong to the deceased. And it would naturally flow to the estate of the deceased and dealt with accordingly. The bank can’t help it. The bank is required by law to send that check back as soon as they are notified that someone has died.

But because of this stupid rule, I had to go to the Social Security Office, get the proper form and submit the names, addresses and Social Security numbers of the children of the deceased.

And I did that….on March 27, 2016.

By August 27, 2016. five months later, the beneficiaries contacted me to tell me they had not received their checks. Which I was grateful for, since I have no way of knowing if Social Security did their job or not.

So I went to the Social Security Office after Labor Day and asked the representative if she thought it was weird that we hadn’t heard anything, hadn’t received the checks and seemed to have fallen into the black hole of lost paperwork. Of course, I had a copy of everything I submitted. She admitted that was weird.

So she looked up the case from my paperwork and said: “Oh, that case was cleared August 29th.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

She just shook her head and shrugged her shoulders and said, “well, I would just wait another week to see if those checks are delivered. And don’t lose these copies.”

Yeah. I made those copies for just such an occasion, not because Social Security told me that would be a stellar idea.


Five months to correct a thing that never should be happening. Why is this even a thing? Who made up this stupid rule, costing deceased families time and money, costing banks time and money, and especially since Social Security knows they pay in arrears.

Imagine waiting five months in your office for someone to read a paper and take action. The checks came, my beneficiaries were happy and we all just shook our heads and shrugged our shoulders.

Think of these blogs as instructional, so you don’t lose your mind and please……

“You Just have to Laugh…..”

©2016 Cathy Sikorski


0 thoughts on “A-rears or Ass-inine?

  1. Great read, Cathy. I have worked for county and state government for 27 years. Believe me, almost nothing the government does makes sense. Rules are usually written and implemented because one, two or a small group of individuals found a way to take advantage of the system, which ultimately leads to more work and frustration for employees and citizens. Rule upon rule, year after year, and you basically build a huge machine that sucks the life out of everyone. I used to think I was in a worthwhile and rewarding profession — helping people. Now I can’t wait to retire.

    1. Oh Laurie, between what you’ve gone through as a caregiver and your job, you are my hero! But let me say, never underestimate how much you help people, because you’re right. It’s not the people behind the desk (usually) who frustrate me, it’s the stupid rules!

  2. This sort of thing is maddening! I feel your pain. I’m glad it was resolved, but boy, these days it feels like we have to go to the mat and fight for every single thing we’re owed. Frustrating!

  3. Social security is the same in Australia too – and the wait time to see someone can be horrendous (even on the telephone it blows out to forever and a day).

    1. You know, Leeanne everyone thinks the grass is always greener on the other side. Not that it makes me happy that you too, experience the same frustration. And yes, the phone is often worse than in person, which is hard to believe!

  4. been away for awhile, up in Canada. but now i’m back. missed out on a few of your Blogs. this one hit home. when my mom past away. my dad who was still living at the time. we (as my brother and sisters) had to help out with this for him. something to do with spouse social security benefit. with all the certifications, paper work that is needed. after flying 3000 miles, plus the waiting to talk to someone, you know you are so right. you just have to laugh!!! love your Blogs Cathy (smiles!!!!)