Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Drowning in Paperwork

I am under so much stress right now.

I received notification from the Social Security Office that Dustin and Braeden's SSI payments will be stopped effective March 1st. Unfortunately, my employment income is not enough to cover all of our expenses, especially not on short notice. The notice stated that the payments were stopping because "we need correct information about name, address, or bank account." 

Okay, not a big deal, I figured. Their names haven't changed. Our address recently changed, but the paperwork was mailed to the new address - maybe they need some sort of proof of address like a lease or utility bill. Or maybe they need to see some bank statements - again, no big deal, I can print those off in five minutes. So I called the office to find out what exactly it was they needed to continue the kids' payments.

Definitely a big deal. They, in fact, do not need information about names/addresses/bank accounts. They want proof of income statements going back to January 2009. More than three years worth of all financial statements - child support statements and pay stubs, broken down monthly.

First, I don't get pay stubs from my main employer. My paycheck gets direct deposited, and if I need a pay stub I go online and print it off from the website. However, the records only go back to October 2010. I've left messages with HR requesting pay stub histories going back further, but haven't received a response yet.

I've been married twice and have children from both marriages, so I (occasionally) receive child support from both ex-husbands. And I get monthly statements for that card. However, all payments are deposited onto a single card, and there's nothing differentiating which child received which funds. It all just gets lumped together. I can access some child support records online, but not going back three years.

I can request financial history statements from the Friend of the Court by making the request in writing. Unfortunately, my divorces were in two different counties, neither of which is the county I currently live in. And then they can't just fax it to the SSI office; the statements have to be mailed to me or picked up in person. Which of course takes a lot of time either way.

Allegedly I was told back when I first moved to Cadillac (December 2008) that I would have to supply this information every month. I don't remember being told that. However, since I wasn't employed at the time and wasn't receiving any child support at the time, it's possible that they told me and I just forgot, since it wasn't applicable at the time they told me. So yes, I definitely screwed up by not being aware of the reporting requirements. That's not in dispute. However, I've received notices in the past (shortly after child support started coming in) that the children's SSI amount was being adjusted due to child support received. And obviously Social Security is well aware of where I'm working and how much I'm earning. They're kind of in charge of keeping track of that sort of information. So I guess I just assumed they were getting all the information they needed (and you know what they say about assuming...)

My other issue is the time period in question. Okay, I was supposed to be sending them this stuff every month. (Difficult to do - I can easily print off my pay stubs every month, but I don't get monthly child support statements broken down by child). But this isn't something they could have notified me about, oh, maybe two years ago? They obviously knew a long time ago that I started receiving child support, since they reduced the kids' SSI payments in response. They obviously knew when I started back to work, since Social Security tracks employment. Couldn't they have contacted me within a few months of those things starting and said, "Hey, chick, where's our paperwork? C'mon, cough it up or we're gonna stop your children's payments!" If they'd notified me within a year, I could've had that stuff printed out and dropped off to them the same day I found out they needed it. But now I have to drive halfway across the freaking state, drop off letters at various courthouses, call around to try to get my pay stubs, blah blah blah, for the past three years.


Meanwhile, my kids still need to eat. They still need a roof over their head. They still need heat and lights. I'm filing an appeal to keep receiving payments while I track down all this paperwork, but I don't know if I'll be successful or not. Obviously I'm not good at giving the SSI folks the paperwork they want and need. So fingers crossed that my kids won't be made to suffer just because I screwed up on not giving SSI backup copies of information they already have...