Even when they’re wrong, it’s still my fault

Let’s face it, sometimes customer service representatives aren’t trained all that well. I once had one of those jobs, and I mostly learned what to do through trial and error. I’m sure some callers were annoyed at my inability to immediately solve their problems, but since I was offering technical support on phones, it wasn’t a big deal if something wen8-12-2015 6-10-09 PMt wrong.

Until I got really sick, most of my experience with calling customer support fell into those kinds of non-essential categories. Maybe the cable bill would be screwed up or I wouldn’t have internet access for two days. This was really irritating, but I knew it would eventually be fixed. I also knew that I’d receive reparations for my hassle.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way with government entities. If they get something wrong, it’s still considered my fault. A few weeks ago I wrong about my frustration with SSDI benefits, mostly based on a phone call with a representation at the SSA (Social Security Administration.) I’d read everything, but it’s confusing, so when she corrected me, I assumed she was right. I should have known better. Thankfully, reader StuckInTexas commented and corrected me. But what else are they getting wrong?

I called the SSA 4 times to report earnings from a bit of work I’d done. It was handled 4 different ways, including 1 representative who was so confused, I just gave up and hung up the phone.

Yesterday I called Medicare to ask if a certain treatment was covered. They said yes, but only under certain circumstances. Those circumstances weren’t 100% clear, and when I asked questions, they just reread the same passage. To me it sounds like what I need will be covered, but they wouldn’t confirm that. They were happy to repeat, though, that it’s my responsibility to make sure it’s covered. How is that logical? I can understand that it’s my responsibility to call and check, but if I call and they refuse to confirm, then what? Do they really expect patients to move forward with appointments and treatments without knowing if they’re covered? Obviously that’s sometimes necessary, but often it isn’t.

MassHealth, our state Medicaid, was different. She simply said she couldn’t tell me and then she passed the buck: she said my doctor had to call the provider line. I can only assume the representatives on that line are better trained and will be able to answer the question. When I asked about covering a TENS unit, for example, she didn’t know what it was. When I spelled it, she still didn’t know. Medicare doesn’t cover it, but at least that representative knew what I was talking about. I think. Maybe she didn’t. Maybe they really do cover it. I don’t know!!

Yesterday I got a long form in the mail from the SSA. They want me to fill out all earnings I received since I went on SSDI. This was triggered by the earnings I recently reported, but I thought that only happened if the earnings were $750 or higher in one month. My earnings weren’t over $400! So now what should I do? I don’t want to have to fill out the form, but even more, I don’t want to be put in the category of people they “observe” unnecessarily. I want to call the SSA to check on this, but I’m pretty sure that if I call 5 times and speak to 5 different people, I’ll get 5 different answers! And if I do get 5 different answers, they’ll still say it’s my responsibility to handle this correctly. If I get 1 answer from everyone and it’s wrong, then the SSA will still say it’s my fault, even if I do exactly what they tell me to do. Don’t believe me? Look at what happened to these disabled folks who were on SSI.

I will take responsibility for my own mistakes. But I think these big government entities should do the same. What do they really expect from us? If they can’t manage to properly train their own employees in these complicated rules and regulations, is it reasonable to expect the general population to understand these same complicated rules and regulations? I don’t think so.

Have you encountered anything like this? How do you handle it? And if you’ve had to report income while on SSDI, did you have to fill out tons of paperwork? Please comment below so we can help each other out!

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7 Responses to Even when they’re wrong, it’s still my fault

  1. Lorna says:

    Sorry I can’t help you. I swear these government entities are the same world wide! there must be a special course in how to be unhelpful and vague. They are just the same in the UK, However sometimes you can get a good one. Hugs xx

  2. stuckintexas says:

    You need to fill it out and return it. They need your earnings stated on their official form. If you don’t return it they will (eventually) suspend your benefits until you do :/ You will get this form if you report $10 earned income.

    The IRS operates the same way. You call, confused. You hang up, still confused. The reps are just reading printed matter. They are not permitted to use critical thinking skills (or they screen out those with them). In either case, both SSA and IRS do not stand behind the answers their own employees give you.

    • chronicrants says:

      Thanks, Stuck. I did finally find someone at my local who seems to know what he’s talking about. He even told me not to call the national number, because those folks don’t always know. I had specifically asked if I’d have to fill out paperwork and the person said no, which is why I was so confused, but the guy I spoke to last week assured me that it’s standard, like you said. Oy!

  3. joyfullnoise says:

    They tried to do this to me (I’m my husband’s payee for his SSDI) and he doesn’t even have any income to report!! … In all honesty – the easiest way to fix this issue and nip it in the bud is to go into your local social security office and talk to them personally – fill out the one form and get it settled so you don’t have to fill out MORE forms in the future!
    Bring in ALL your pay stubs, information, letters and everything else they might want to see too. It is a pain in the butt sort of day – but you get it done and over with and if the person you get stuck with in the office seems confused or not in the “know” so to speak – just ask at that time to speak with a supervisor too and they will call one over to confer.
    Good luck! 🙂

    • chronicrants says:

      Thanks joyfullnoise! I’m sure you’re right, going down is better. But I can so rarely go out, I shouldn’t have to use one of my rare “good” days for this bullshit. I did manage to call someone at the local office, though, and I think that helped more than going through the central number.

      • joyfullnoise says:

        Yes, local office is definitely better than the central number! You can always request a supervisor that way too! 🙂 Glad you didn’t have to waste your day in the office …that always stinks!

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