Sep 2, 2011

M-O-O-N ! That Spells Nebraska! - Tom Cullen

Tom Cullen from The Stand

I'm not a Stephen King fan but one of my favorite books happens to be The Stand which is King's 1978 post-apocalyptic novel made into a tv mini-series featuring the above actor as Tom Cullen. In the novel, Tom Cullen is a developmentally disabled man who has significant spelling inadequacies to put it nicely.

Everything is spelled, M-O-O-N to be specific.

"M-O-O-N! That spells parade!"

Today I believe I met his cousin. He's employed by the Social Security office.

Since The Teenager is now 18 I have been going through the process of applying for Social Security disability. When a special needs child is adopted in our state they receive Medicaid until they are 18 other wise no one would adopt from our foster system because no one could afford the outrageous medical bills of anyone with multiple medical complexities. Ok, maybe Rosie O'Donnel could afford the bills but I can't think of anyone else right now.

Because The Teenager has significant medical and cognitive disabilities she should have no problem qualifying for SSI so that she can maintain her insurance which will end any day now.

I didn't collect SSI for the first 18 years so this is a new process and we're starting from scratch.

Beginning 2 weeks ago, I spent 3 hours on line filling out what I thought was a Social Security Disability application. I waited this long because two people told me I could not apply for her until she was 18.

They were wrong. You can apply when the disabled child is 17 1/2.

I wasted 6 months. Help me, Jesus.

No matter how many times I entered her multiple specialists names, addresses, phone numbers, first appointment, last appointment and next appointment the web site told me I was entering a "new specialist name"and that they did not recognize it. This went on at least 3 times. Page after page.

I kept entering and entering and entering...the same names and phone numbers and addresses and first appointment and last appointment and next appointment...over and over and over and over...

Three hours later I was done.

And then this popped up:

"We have received The Teenager's disability report on August 10, 2011 at 6:30 PM Eastern Time. The disability report you just completed is NOT a formal application for benefits, but is part of the claims process...If you have not already done so, contact us immediately."


So I called and made an appointment.

One week after making the appointment I received a verification in the mail addressed to The Teenager's BIRTH NAME. You know the name that hasn't been used since 1996 when the adoption was finalized?

Four days after the first packet arrived I received a second identical packet also addressed to the birth name.

I was NOT happy.
Today at the appointment we arrived early and were greeted by a security guard. I couldn't see a receptionist anywhere so I informed him we had an appointment.

"You have an appointment?" He sounded shocked.

This didn't sound promising. I assured him we did.

"Go to the kiosk and press one on the computer," he instructed gruffly.

I obeyed, pressed one, got a receipt and had a seat.

We weren't waiting long when a voice over the intercom told us to report to window 23.

And then the voice on the intercom screeeeeees, "WOULD DUYEN NGUYEN....D-U-Y-E-N N-G-U-Y-E-N please go to window 7? LAST CALL for Duyen Nguyen!"

So much for confidentiality...

Two and a half hours later we were done with the "application." One of the highlights of our appointment was me asking the clerk exactly why he needed to know if I had a life insurance policy when The Teenagers SSI application had nothing to do with my income.

"Well, it won't when she's 18," he says.

"She's 18 now," I reminded him.

No response.

"What is the value of your life insurance policy? " He's ignoring me.

"Dead or alive?" I ask.


The Teenager looks up. "This is sooooooo boring." She proceeds to bang her doll on the counter.

Normally I would stop the autistic-like behavior.

But not today. I am thinking these people DESERVE to be driven crazy just like they are driving me crazy.

bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang

bangity bangity bang

The banging stops after 30 minutes."What's this for?" she inquires pointing to the plexiglass barrier separating us from the clerk.

How do you tell your developmentally disabled child the plexiglass is there so clients can't jump through the window and kill the Social Security clerk?

Just then the security guard walks past.

"He has a gun!" she shrieks.

Yes sweetie and I'm pretty sure he uses it at least once a day.

The clerk scans the medical records i brought and hands me a nice neat packet that is all about ME and not the Teenager. I can't help but notice that I am so poor that I may "qualify for Medicaid" myself. I have fantasies of dropping my Blue Cross Blue Shield and sucking the system dry until I notice the 1/2 inch packet, once again, has the WRONG name on it.

The Birth Name.

"This is the wrong name. This is not even legal. I need paperwork reflecting the legal name not the name that no longer exists." I can't believe I am actually calm while I'm telling him this.

He informs me he's not going to reprint it.

"Really? This is not HER NAME."

He tells me he has corrected it in the computer.

"Then why is it still printing out her BIRTH NAME?" I ask.

He takes the paper from me...and yes....this story is 100% true and I have the copy in my possession to prove it...he scratches out the middle name and pens in a name.

He leaves the rest of the incorrect name as is.

"What is this? This isn't legal. Anyone could have written this. What is your name?" I ask calmly.

"My name is Johnny," he replies.

"Johnny. How does anyone know that you, a Social Security office clerk, wrote this name in and not me?" I asked politely.

And then I notice the middle name he has penned in over the wrong middle name...


"Johnny. The Teenagers correct middle name is Grace." I inform him.

"That is Grace,'" he replies.

"But you wrote R-O-S-E."

And then I thought about Tom Cullen from The Stand.

R-O-S-E that spells Grace!

Johnny realized pretty quickly I wasn't going to leave even if the security guard shot me and eventually reprinted the cover sheet with the corrected, legal name.

And now we wait 120 days for our "answer."

Wanna bet the answer is addressed to the wrong name?

Wanna bet The Teenager is denied?

I say Y-E-S.

Because that spells N-O.


Island Rider said...

Am even know watching a news story about people who stole Social Security numbers and were making money by filing tax returns in those names and that the IRS is hindering the police investigation because they dont want to release the information. 49 people were arrested. I wonder if the teenager's birth mother is one.

Elizabeth said...

Do you hear that banging sound? It's my head banging on the desk for you and The Teenager.

This reminds me only a little, because your story is far more outrageous, of the time I was asked by the insurance agency clerical over the phone how to spell "epilepsy."


IR: I made him check when the birth name kept popping up and told him if she was collecting SS for The Teenager all these years I was leaving the SS office and going directly to the police station. He checked and said no...she had not been receiving the checks.

Elizabeth: I-M-B-E-C-I-L-E-S that spells Insurance Companies.

Anonymous said...



Lilith: E-X-A-C-T-L-Y! That spells WTF.

Kathleen Scott said...

How did Johnny pass the civil service test? And learn to use the computer system? Does he have a driver's license? I know I don't want to be on the same road with him.

Mama Melissa said...

OMG. that would be hysterically funny if it wasn't so damn sad. wow wow wow.

YES means NO here. yep yep yep.