Ok, let's try for the SSDI rant...
Blind people are typically eligible for SSI when they turn 18 because they are blind. If they then work enough quarters, they become eligible for SSDI. I fall into this category. So this means that I have been eligible for SSDI for a while, but no one has picked up on it until recently. So I've had paperwork in my hands. To make a long long story very short, a number of things happened and I didn't get it in on time. One of those things was the fact that the lady who called to inform me that the paperwork had been sent to me was vague in informing me about when I needed to return it. She said, "We need it back as soon as possible," instead of telling me exactly what the letter said, which was that it needed to be returned in 15 days. I remember this because these calls intimidate me and I just wanted her off my phone, so I said ok and hung up. First lesson learned: I should have asked for a clarification because she should have been reading the notice to me. The Social Security Administration is not in the habit of providing notices in accessible format or making it possible for blind people to fill out applications independently, and so the worker is supposed to read the notice verbatim. However, at this point in time it's my word against hers; so I have no ability to file any complaint.
When she called again to threaten me with stopping my SSI checks because I hadn't returned the forms in due time, she was very hostile and raised her voice. When I politely asked her to stop yelling at me, she raised her voice and said she wasn't yelling at me. So much for requesting respectful treatment!
"So when is the deadline now?" I asked. This conversation really needs to go somewhere positive.
"It was yesterday," she snapped. Eventually she crooned to me like I was a three-year-old that if the forms were not postmarked by Friday, they would have to stop my checks.
I made an appointment with my local office, dug the form out, and asked Mom to look over it with me so I wouldn't get blindsided with questions. My plan was to insist that someone from the local office help me fill it out.
Mom and I were up very late filling it out ourselves. The amount of detail they want on these forms is outrageous! They had things on there that I didn't even remember... I had forgotten that I was hired by a neurology office in 1997 to do medical transcription and then the office discovered that their dictation system was not accessible. There were a number of accommodations that could have been made, and the management staff was very open-minded. The doctor was not, and I ended up leaving. No harm done. I made $195. It shows on the forms because it's income I made. They want to know my title and supervisor. I honestly don't remember. ... I was paid in 1998 to do some temporary work for an agency here in town... Same thing. What was my title and supervisor? I really don't remember. I was there for a day; I made a whopping $41.20! ... Were there ever any months that I made more than xxx amount? If so, which months, and how much did I make each month? Good heavens!
Mom decided to go to the appointment with me. This turned out to be a good thing. There is no front desk at the local Social Security office. There is a sign at the entrance instructing people to "ask the guard" if they need this or that accommodation--and nothing about blindness accommodations. There is no braille signage--and this is a new building. There is a computer at the entrance with a sign on it. You type your name and it spits out a number. You then take a seat, and someone calls you eventually. The guard is posted over by the workers, and he only interacts to bug people to not use their cell phones. If I had gone in by myself, I would have stood there like a goon wondering what I was supposed to do!
The local representative was nice and helpful. There were things incorrect on the SSA's portion of the form. They didn't check that I was receiving any benefits, and they had me checked as "not blind." This seems to be a problem going way back--I was on the record as "not blind" for a number of years as an SSI recipient, and I don't know that it was ever corrected. I need to check on it. I discovered that problem in 1998 along with several others. It makes me wonder what other errors are in my file. I'm not upset with any particular person working for the agency; but this kind of thing makes me realize that I have to stay on top of what's going on.
I was later informed that I do have to apply for all benefits that I am eligible for. This would have been a nicer way to explain the situation to me than what the rude lady chose to use. I wish that some of the workers there had better communication skills--and I wish life was better for the kind people who work there.