Back in February I wrote a couple of diaries about my struggle to overcome a technical glitch in my documentation that the PATRIOT Act used to render me officially "NONEXISTENT" after all my years of dutifully tax-paying life on planet Earth in the good ol' US of A. It has to do with that legislation's act of B-grade prestidigitation which magically turned that little paper "Not a Legal Form of ID" Social Security card I got when I was a teenager into the single Most Important Piece of Personal Identification a citizen can possibly own. Despite the fact that it's still not a legal form of ID, and neither SSA nor the IRS ever cared what name(s) you used on any returns or earmarks since it's always been the number that counts. And it's not and never has been a legal form of ID. Did I say that? ...
Aside from the various extraneous pains in the ass that the PATRIOT Act has caused me since it was amended in 2006 to accomplish its trickiest trick - inability to renew my driver's license or work outside the home or have my name on a bank account or travel on airliners - new legislation passed last year by the Teabagger-dominated state government in North Carolina also deprives me of my right to vote as of 2016. Thus it was that my long struggle with bureaucratic stupidity took on new urgency.
Now, SSA did finally accept my various forms of ID when I filed last summer for my SS retirement benefits, which I did at 62 because I can no longer work outside the home or drive to work if I could get a job in this economy. Because the name on the SS card doesn't match the name on my birth certificate, FS-240, attached affidavit from the commander US Naval Forces Philippines, marriage license, old driver's license, voter registration, duly recorded deed and mortgage, daughter's adoption papers, etc. They did at first refuse my benefits due to the name mismatch between the school records that I'd used to get the original card/account and all my other forms of ID that don't include the familiar nickname, so I appealed administratively and was quickly approved.
The SSA folks examined and made copies of all my IDs (except the dental x-rays, which they laughed about when I tried to claim them as "photo-ID") and put them in my file. I started receiving SS checks in July. In the name that is on my SS card/account, which includes that familiar nickname I haven't used legally since 1972.
Once I started getting my benefits I again went to the DMV - armed with my latest check - hoping to convince them that I could now have that ever-so necessary photo-ID. No way, they said, because THEY don't take school records as proof that the nickname is also me, and the SS card (and a check in that name) is still "Not a Legal Form of ID." Hence I went back to the regional SSA office to get the name corrected. Should have been easy, right?
Hilariously, in a blatant display of absolutely mind-boggling bureaucratic stupidity, I was informed by the SSA agent and not one but two supervisors on duty that they could NOT change the name unless I provided a court order or two entirely new forms of ID that were not already on file. And no, those dental x-rays still don't count. The 'why' of that was not explained, but even the supervisors saw that it's monumentally stupid. Being dutiful bureaucrats, they sheepishly accepted the fact that they're stupid rather than help me out. No, I may NOT correct the name on my SS account/card.
And just so you know, I paid a lawyer $500 several years ago for a legal name change after the first time DMV told me that's what I needed. The judge took one look at it and laughed. Nobody needs a legal name change, I was told, to change their legal name to their legal name. All of my names legally belong to me, duly evidenced by proper documentation. Since name changes must go through the County (no other courts apply) and the County judge had already said no because the whole thing is so monumentally stupid, I'd spent real money I couldn't spare on nothing at all.
Anyway, in March I contacted my Congressional representative Mark Meadows (R) and Senator Kay Hagan (D) for help. They sent me release forms so they could make inquiries on my behalf, which I signed and sent back to them right away. Last week Meadows' office sent me another one, saying they'd not received the other. So that avenue of possible help is still not initiated yet. Typical.
This month's Social Security check came in on time, but when my husband tried to deposit it at our credit union account, it was suddenly refused. I had to go in and show them a photo-ID before they'd allow deposit. The same photo-ID I can't get because SSA won't correct the name on my card/account. I tried my old driver's license, but of course that doesn't work. Even though it's got my picture on it, and I haven't changed that much.
Think about this for a minute. A great many people in this country who are caretaking elderly and infirm parents or raising children receiving survivor benefits deposit SS checks not made out to them every month, or even have someone else's benefits direct deposited into their accounts. A good many elderly and infirm or very young beneficiaries don't have current photo-ID, and I sincerely doubt any bank or credit union has insisted that those children or sickly old folks come in personally to provide that before accepting the money in deposit. If they did - and we're talking millions of people here - we'd all have heard about it by now, loudly. So I figure it's just good old nonexistent me.
Now all of a sudden I cannot have access to my Social Security benefits to help support my family, even though I am still duly receiving my Social Security benefits. Is there something MORE monumental than monumental? The stupidity is getting worse and I've run out of adjectives.
So yesterday I again emailed the staffer that Senator Hagan had assigned to my case, to tell her about the new stupidity and ask if she'd received the authorization that Meadows' office said they hadn't received. They were mailed at the same time and all. It's now not just a matter of gross inconvenience, time, and totally unjustifiable expense. It's all the way to "life or death" because we need that meager income to live.
Hagan's staffer responded today that yes, they'd received the authorization and she had already initiated the inquiry. Which is probably why the credit union all of a sudden won't take the check. They've "frozen" me until this gets fixed. And let me tell you, fixing monumental stupidity is no mean feat.
All they ever needed to do was correct the perfectly legal names on the card/account to the perfectly legal names I've been using ever since I turned 21. It's just not that hard. Yet some unimaginably bizarre little sub-clause glitch(es) in the terminology of the law apparently does not allow them to do so. Or so they tell me, over and over again.
So now we'll see if Senator Hagan can somehow manage to convince the bureaucracy of what the County Judge confirmed all those years ago but did not put in writing. All the names are legal, and they all belong to me. I can choose which ones I go by, they have to accommodate my wishes. I'll be sure to let you know if they ever do.
Sigh. Life in Amerika, circa 21st century, is Absurd cubed. Guess it's a good thing I'm a clown, or this would be positively depressing...