Social Security Confusion

Social_security_cardMy mother has been getting the run-around about claiming my father’s monthly Social Security check now that he is gone. We understand that the system is plagued with fraud and that she might need to prove her identity (and even show proof of their 50-year marriage). We understand that sometimes systems as large as this one can get backed up. Yet we were baffled as to what exactly was standing in the way of what certainly must be a run-of-the-mill request.

Yesterday, my mother announced that she had finally gotten to the bottom of the problem. It seems that she has been having trouble because she worked and has her own Social Security account. She has to file extra paperwork to claim my father’s benefits instead of her own (which is her right according to the law).

This doesn’t seem so shocking in and of itself, except that neither a funeral director nor a savvy financial planner knew about this rule. And a call to Social Security didn’t reveal this answer, so Mom had to go to the Social Security office herself to investigate in person. And, she still can’t get it resolved until she has a phone appointment with Social Security – in 3 weeks.

I don’t know why I have been surprised and upset by this. I should know better than to expect a system as large as Social Security to run smoothly. Yet, I keep feeling as if my grieving mother should not have to put up with such shenanigans. I feel as if she should be treated with respect, dignity, and maybe even a little sympathy. I feel as if our system should recognize that we have all been through a terribly stressful and traumatic event and should treat us all with a little humanity.

Leave a comment: what financial transitions have surprised you and your transitioning family?

Post written by Kay.



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