Jan 9, 2013
The other day I had an appointment with the Social Secrity office located in Campbell. My purpose was to receive widow's benefits.
When I first went into the office I was told by a very nice man what type of documentation I needed to present to my said appointment. While I was there I asked if he could divulge approximately what my widow's benefit would be.
He looked up mine and my husband's information and gave me a "ballpark" figure. I was surpirsed at the amount and took the apporintment for Jan. 2013. I felt all was well with my life until the appointment.
I supplied all the pertinent documentation he needed. Since I'm self-employed and under 66 was a "problem". Another problem was my name. First of all my maiden name appeared on my drivers license with my married name. Not with a hyphen, not with it as a continued name, just my maiden name.
Wrong. Social Security didn't recognize it as my name. Then because my last name had a space between the "Mc" and "C" I have to go to DMV and change it. By the way, DMV and Social Security have merged. Great, huh? Now if I don't go to DMV and change it before the letter comes from DMV they will REVOKE my drivers license.
Now tell me, what does my drivers license have to do with my Social Security? My ability to drive should have nothing to do with my Social Security. But it does.
Now the real clincher is, are you ready for this? I'm not going to get widow's benefits. Why? Because I make too much $$ annually. Now what does that mean.
One, I'm not 66, so natually I can't receive widow's benefits, well I can, but if I make under a certain amount of money I might get one or two checks at the end of the year. Plus, once you decide to take that benefit, it stays that way FOREVER. Meaning, when you do turn 66 what dollar amount at the year you took it will always be that amount.
So no matter what route you take you're screwed. So now my choice was to take my Social Security early and leave my widow's benefits alone to accrue to a larger dollar amount at age 66 then switch over. But the same rules apply to the amount of money you make during the year.
I might get 2 or 3 checks at the end of the year, but I better be dam certain I'm making under the amount because I was told if I take a check when I shouldn't be taking it, I'll be in a lot of trouble. In other words, I'm supposed to check in with Social Security every year come January to let them know how much net income I'm making or at least a "ballpark" estimate.
This is a very dangerous word for a person who is self-employed, not to mention being a recent widow. It's hard enough getting through the day worrying about finances, but for someone who holds the very money you worked hard for and paid taxes on, is scaring the hell out of you, I call it bullying.
So at the end of the week off I go to DMV to have them correct a space that was put in my name and drop my maiden name. I hope that makes them happy. I'm not.
Now here's a list of documents you need to bring to Social Security and DMV if need be.
- Original Death Certificate or Certified Death Certificate
- Marriage Certificate Certified
- Birth Certificate Certified or Passport
- Miliarty, Dept of Defense Card
- Baptismal Certificate
Now this sounds like a lot, it is especially at the time of grief. If you were married in another county other than Santa Clara, you need to call and make a request and pay for it at the time of the phone call.
Now when I called the line was perpetually busy. This was in the state of Nevada. So I went around the system and was able to talk to a human and asked if this was normal for the line to be busy. The answer was yes.
So I put the phone on redial and was able to get through within 45 min. Now that's long. But for some reason I was in the wrong county. The long of the short is I was able to get the marriage certificate certified and mailed to me on time.
Lucky me, until I was at Social Security. Then I got thrown under the bus. Now for an update.
I did go to DMV today Jan. 11, 2013, I walked in and was able to get my paper work done and got my number. But when I was at the counter the woman needed my birth certificate. So I gave it to her. She said this is in your maiden name. No s@#t.
Then she asked for my marriage certificate. When she looked at it she almost dismissed it until she looked on the back for the signature and stamp. She gave me a number and let me go.
I sat for maybe 30 min., which was shocking for a Friday afternoon but I did get waited on. Now I asked about them merging with Social Security and they said we didn't merge we're just liked together through the database. So I stand corrected.
Now as far as what does my drivers license have to do with my Social Security, she responded, nothing. After 911 the Federal Government demanded or enforced us to do this. Now the fun part starts.
I told her why I was there and she told me to produce a marriage certificate to prove who I was and why I was changing/correcting my married name. I also had to show my birth certificate to show that was my maiden name and why I had to drop it off my drivers license.
That's the only good thing that terrorist at SS told me. Bring all your documentation with with you. They also said we just can't take the word of some guy at SS to change your name.
So again I will reiterate, get all your documents together and make sure of all the spellings, etc. It will save you a lot of heartache in the long run. Believe me, I don't know how much more I can take of all this bad news. After all that, I'm still baffled about widows benefits.
So I talked to a trusted friend and explained to her what I went through and she said I should make another appointment with a supervisor and find out what story is correct. Also I told her I went to the SS office in Campbell and she found two other ones.
Even the woman at DMV said Campbell wasn't the best place to go to, she heard bad things. So this maybe a ray of hope.
Come Monday I'm getting on the "horn" to make another appointment in San Jose and tell them about the two conflicting stories I'm getting. I'm hoping it turns out to my "benefit". Stay tuned.