Friday, June 10, 2011

Adventures with Social Security and Billing

I got a bill the other day from Samaritan Health Services for $1217. At the time, I was on a phone with a nurse from my insurance company who was checking in to make sure I was well after surgery. I told her about the bill, so she got someone from one of the departments who helps patients with bills like this. From what he could tell, it seemed that Samaritan hadn't given me the full adjustment amount (as stipulated in the contract between Samaritan and Providence) they were supposed to. So, he said he would call Samaritan's billing department and talk to them. He called me back about 10-15 minutes later and reported that I shouldn't have to pay the bill and to call Samaritan and make sure that I owed a zero balance.

When looking into what my social security benefit might be, I found a statement from two years ago. Then, on my blog, Caroline told me that they stopped sending paper statements and said that I could go to SSA's website to get an estimate of my benefit amount. So, I tried that, but after giving them the identifying information (social security number, name, place of birth, birthdate, mother's maiden name), the site couldn't complete my request. I tried a couple of times and then I called the SSA office's 1-800 number. A few minutes later, a real person called me back, she asked for my identifying information and then informed me that there was a discrepancy between what she had and what I answered. The fix? To go to the local office and bring my birth certificate and ask them to straighten it out.

Well, I had to turn in paperwork there anyway, so I brought my birth certificate. The woman who helped me said that there was no discrepancy - that when she pulled up my SSN, what she had in my computer matched what was on my birth certificate. She had no idea what the discrepancy might be.

This is why you start this process as soon as you can.

One can also make a choice about how to approach situations like this. I could get angry and all stressed. Or, just calmly figure out what hoop to jump through and jump through it. And, then laugh at the absurdity of it all!

I will say that other than this silly discrepany, things have happened fairly promptly with the local SSA office. I applied online on Wednesday, filled out the Medical History form online yesterday, which was the same day I received forms that I needed to fill out, which I brought in this morning. Zip zap. Let's hope the rest of this application process goes as smoothly as it has!

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