About 10 years ago I bought my first new car. I negotiated a good price, got them to throw in extras like an extended warranty, and then moved on to the contract, where I proceeded, to the saleman’s chagrin, to read every single word. It took a ridiculously long time, but I wanted to make sure I read it all. I caught something important, actually, and had them change it. I think it’s very important to read every word of these long, annoying contracts. And I think the same is true of important applications, like for social security.
That’s why I’m certain that no mention was made of the deadline for the second part of the application when I was filling out the first part. I would have read it. And it would have stuck with me. You see, the way it works is that first you fill out the main application. Then you fill out the disability application. Then, if you want, you fill out an application for SSI. I read several times that my SSI application date was being set based on when I started that first application (and they only tell you that after you start!) but I saw no mention of the disability application, so I logically assumed I could just do it whenever I wanted. Obviously I knew it had to be done somewhat soon so that they could start processing my application, but a few days here or there wouldn’t matter, right?
Obviously, I didn’t learn my lesson from the MassHealth paperwork procrastination. I put off that first part of the social security application for a couple of weeks, but after that I did have to legitimately wait for my lawyer to get back to me with answers to my questions. Then on Tuesday night, with a big sigh of relief, I submitted the first application online. On Wednesday I drove over to the local social security office with my W2 and signed medical release form. I felt good about this! Then Thursday I was busy and today, well, I meant to work on that application. Really, I did. But, well, it would still be waiting for me tomorrow, right? Or Sunday, definitely by Sunday.
Yeah, I know, I was procrastinating, but it was only a couple of days. Then I checked my mail today and there was a letter from the Social Security Administration. It said that I had 10 days (from the day I applied – which was already 2 days ago!) to submit a whole bunch of things, including this additional application! I was horrified. If they had said upfront that 10 days after the first application I’d have to have the second one in, I would have finished them both before hitting that “submit” button. I could have prepared. I would have done it all differently. But of course they didn’t offer any information like that. No, that would have been too helpful.
I read all sorts of checklists, but it wasn’t mentioned there. I read the introductions to the forms and all sorts of boring information about the materials I’d need, but it wasn’t mentioned there either. Now I’m really worried! I started working on the application today, and I emailed more questions to my lawyer. If I need to fill in certain info then I’m screwed, because it will take time to get my older medical records, and that’s time that I just don’t have. And what’s this about wanting my short term disability pay stubs? What pay stubs? It was direct deposit, and really, shouldn’t the insurance company be reporting that directly to the federal government anyway? Can’t the SSA see the IRS’ files?
Of course, I got this letter after 5pm on a Friday, so now I have to wait all weekend. First thing Monday, though, I’ll be calling the SSA. This time, there won’t be any procrastination. I can’t afford to take that chance!