social-security-support-cardIn November of 2016, the wonderful social worker at Keith’s dialysis center helped him fill out a form for him to get Medicare. PD patients are eligible for a Renal Failure program that gets them Medicare benefits more quickly. There should have been a little bit of time to get all the paperwork through and a 30 day waiting period. By early January we started making phone calls. And, as of  2/5/2017 he still doesn’t have it and I’m still confused.

For those who don’t know how the system works, you call a national number (sometimes you can call a “regional” number) and they tell you what they see on their computers, which isn’t much. All of the actual information and works happens at your local office, so for us the office is in Johnstown, PA. If they can’t locate the information you need, they tell you that they’re sending your local office a message and someone should contact you in 24-48 hours. There is seemingly no way to contact the local office directly.

If it won’t ring, kill it

Only, in our case, they never called. So I gave them a few days and got caught up in all the things that come with having a PD patient in the house. When I finally have a chance to call back last week and this time was told that they lost his application. I thought there may have been some confusion because an application for Social Security Disability had also been submitted in November and I had misplaced one of the pages and had called to ask them to resend it so he could sign it and send it back. She did not seem all that impressed with what I had to say. I could almost hear the eye roll a few times. Finally, the person on the phone said she would call the Johnstown office and talk to them herself.

We were on hold for a while. She seemed to come back and then we were on hold again. This happened four or five times. Eventually, she came back on the line and said that someone from the Johnstown would be calling us back the next day before the end of business. She explained this very nicely and very clearly…it was a complete change from the way she had been talking to me before the call. She told us exactly who would be calling – to protect the federally employed I’ll call her Miss Scarlet because her name made me think she’d be found in the library with a candlestick.

We didn’t hear from Miss Scarlet on Tuesday. Okay I thought, there was a snowstorm and everything basically closed for the day, so I was willing to make accounts due to snow. The next day they closed at noon, I was unhappy but I was willing to accept a short day as a reason for no call. By Thursday afternoon I was more than a little unhappy.

phone-949084_1920I called the regional number and was told the wait would be at least 45 minutes. Or I could get a call back when I’m at the front of the line. I wasn’t hanging out on the phone that long so I told them to call me back. In the meantime, I was determined to find the number for the Johnstown office. During my last conversation with an actual human I was given a number for the office…that didn’t work. So I was hell bent on getting one now. It took a little bit of a Google deep dive, but I found it! I’m not going to post it here for several reasons. But, if you need it, send me a note through the contact page and I’ll pass it along or give suggestions on how to find your office’s number.

With more than a little irritation I called the number and started explaining yet again what’s been going on. The gentlemen on the phone assured me that the paperwork was indeed lost. And then I about lost it too. He quickly said that he would check with the person the case was assigned to and a few seconds later he came back on the line telling me that Miss Scarlet was out of the office on a case and couldn’t take my call, she would return it as soon as she had the opportunity.

phone-1433174_1920I don’t think it was 10 minutes later that she was calling me back and telling me that there was no paperwork. Then she explained all about Social Security Disability. I thanked her for the information and told her that there was a company hired by the long term disability company to handle all of that and we’d already got the run down multiple times. I asked her about what the Medicare. She said she would look into it and get back to me.

In the next hour to 90 minutes, I heard back from her three times. All along claiming she didn’t have the form that was mailed to them in November. But somehow she had all the information that was on the form and didn’t need his signature on any documents. She mentioned the form the doctor that had to be filled out, and I told her it was sent with the original forms and that if she was going to need a new one I knew that all of the members of his team were in clinic and the form could get filled out immediately and I’d be able to drop off it off by close of business. But, somehow that wasn’t necessary. Miss Scarlet said she would contact them if she didn’t have it. But how could she possibly have it if the forms were lost in the first place?

So now we wait. Again. She did tell us in one of the phone calls that she was glad to have our case because she was learning so much! Well, I’m glad she learned something but I kind of wish it wasn’t because of us.