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SSDI by the numbers can lead to frustrating red tape

There was a TV show called "The Prisoner" back in the 1960s. One of the key themes of the show was that everyone in "The Village" had a number -- something the title character, Number 6, refused to accept. At the opening of each episode, the prisoner declared, "I am not a number, I am a free man."

It is a sad reality that, despite all the warnings about dehumanization by the numbers, we are subject to them. If you want to drive, you need a driver's license number. If you want to work, you need a Social Security Number. If you want health insurance to cover your ailment, the doctor needs to put in the proper code.

Numbers are critical to the functioning of systems. At the same time, a misplaced digit or code is all it takes to mess the system up. 

Sometimes it can wind up shutting down critical income, such as Social Security disability benefits, as more than a few people in California have discovered, we are sure.

Proving eligibility for and being approved to receive SSDI benefits is not a simple process. That's why working with an attorney is always advised. But as a woman in Ohio recently discovered, it doesn't take too much to see the funds cut off and it, too, may take a little outside help to get things back on track.

According to her story, the woman had consistently received her SSDI support until earlier this year. Nothing came in for two months.

When the first check didn't arrive, the woman went to her local Social Security Administration offices and learned she had been cut off because the system indicated she had been receiving money from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. The woman tried at least three different times to prove it wasn't true, but the SSA refused to accept her efforts.

Eventually, the woman turned to her local newspaper ombudsman service for help. Not surprisingly, the SSA's response was swift.

Officials reported that they discovered the issue was that the woman had received workers' compensation payments prior to filing her SSDI claim and a code concerning those benefits hadn't been deleted from her claim as it should have been.

The issue is fixed now, but note that all it took to mess things up was a number.

Source: Dayton Daily News, "Woman’s Social Security Disability benefits restored," Freelancer, April 2, 2014

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