Friday, July 31, 2009

I'm Not Patty Duke

I spent the morning at the Social Security Office with young Walker. It seems that my trying to conserve your tax dollars by not letting the State of Tennessee pay for Medicare Part B on Walker’s behalf because we had perfectly good insurance coverage for him already through the airline may mean that he will enter a period of not having any insurance coverage at all when I turn 65 in October.

It’s complicated, but it seems that even though the airline insurance benefits for him extended until I turned sixty five, he should have gotten part B within eight months of his dad’s last “employment.” He is eligible to apply between January and March of next year for coverage, at a penalized rate, (10% for each of 6 years) to begin in July of 2010.

Our state, like many states, is cutting funds for services to those with disabilities, called TennCare, and a review of Walker’s earnings showed that his income (minimum wage, plus a dollar or so) is too high to qualify under the new guidelines. The person who called to inform me of this on behalf of an agency I didn't get the name of advised me to "just get him Part B." I wish it had been that easy.

What I thought would only require a phone call to Social Security led to my having to come in and prove guardianship/conservatorship although I had been listed as his conservator since he turned eighteen and became eligible for SSI on his own behalf. I provide him with a full time, although apparently inept, full time social worker on site.

Walker has a job because most adults have a job and pay taxes and part or all of their living expenses, and we thought he should too. He has worked at the same job, happily for the most part, for over eleven years. He receives minimal services from the State or Federal Government, only a fraction of what he qualifies for.

Anyway, we ended up at the Social Securty office along with all the other needy and unwashed and ineligible for phone or internet sign up. While we waited, an endless loop of promotions was playing on a television. With no other options for entertainment, I soon found myself watching Patty Duke reprising her role of "identical cousins" encouraging those awaiting services to consider using the internet to sign up for Social Security and Medicare.

In my humble opinion, by the way, Patty and her identical cousin look WAY older than I or any of my friends. Maybe she qualified several years back…like maybe ten or so. When I got home, I actually did take her advice and got myself enrolled with three months to spare. Here’s hoping I wasn’t unknowingly supposed to have done that six years ago when my husband retired from the airline, because if I was, I didn’t. You for sure don’t want to see what happens to me minus medical coverage.

I hope my panic today is totally unwarranted. I hope that people like Walker won’t have to rely on dummies like me to make sure their needs are met. I hope my next effort to save taxpayer dollars doesn't turn out quite so badly.



Sharon Fargo said...

Oh, this is awful. Has it worked out since you wrote this entry?

Janie Morris said...

Fortunately, my stupidity may not end up causing the ripples I thought it might. I was finally put in touch with a very nice lady at DHS who provided me with a packet to apply for Medicaid, which he should be eligible for, and I'm waiting to hear back from them. It all had with some lawsuit that was recently settled about SSI and they are making everyone reapply even if they no longer get SSI. Oops, you got me started!