Yesterday and today, I’ve been trying to find out from the Social Security Administration whatever happened with the Request for Reconsideration I’d filed back in March to a non-medical denial of my disability application before I’d even progressed beyond the initial, introductory intake portion.
There’s a term of art somewhere for how systems like Social Security are designed specifically to discourage and exhaust people to the point of giving up, thereby easing both staffing and financial demands upon that system. It’s not Kafkaesque and it’s not administrative burden, although it is both of those things.
After trying twice to talk to the local office early this afternoon only to be stymied by their enforced fifteen-minute rule whereby they hang up on you if they haven’t gotten an agent to pick up the phone within that time, I went out to read over coffee intent upon returning to try a third, and hopefully not a fourth or a fifth, time.
So, here’s what happened.
Inspiringly, within ten minutes I was talking to an actual human being on the other side of the line.
Catastrophically, the worst is confirmed.
At some point very shortly after I filed that Request for Reconsideration, Social Security simply dismissed it. There was no notice or communication of this action.
Typically, the process is such that you file, you’re denied, you file a Request for Reconsideration, you’re denied, and then you appeal. Instead, someone at Social Security simply and silently closed the file.
To be clear: because of this particular method, the local agent literally could not find any record of my actual application for disability filed in March. Presuming she was correct and not somehow missing where it had been stowed in my electronic records, it’s gone. All the very difficult work I already put into this appears to be completely gone, except for my own copies.
The agent at the local office basically had only two suggestions for me as to what the fuck I do now.
File another appeal, and note that I am filing it “late” because I was never even told of the denial of the Request for Reconsideration.
Schedule an appointment to try to navigate starting all over from scratch in a real-time conversation with another overworked Social Security agent.
As to the first, it didn’t seem there’d be a way for me to do this, given that when I filed the Request for Reconsideration I had to include the date of the notice of the non-medical denial. Since the agency simply trashed the entire file and never contacted me, I don’t have any sort of notice to which I can refer.
As to the second, this is precisely the sort of thing I’ve been trying to avoid by doing it all online, because the vagaries and bizarrities of my particular history are easier to explain with time and attention better suited to my written disability narrative than to a real-time conversation with an overworked human being.
In the end, I agreed to let the agent make me an appointment, although we made a telephone appointment instead of in-person, which will help at least slightly with my self-regulation.
While I made it clear, as I always do during support conversations, that my increasingly anguished if not angry tone is not about the specific person who randomly ended up on the phone with me, I did mention that once we’d made the appointment I was going to go cry for half an hour.
Instead, I came here, to write all of this out. Except that the cry is coming, sooner or later, no matter what I do next.
My appointment is set for the morning of October 11. All I can do is struggle to make an overworked human being at an understaffed agency listen to what I need to say about my circumstances, which are about as far from cookie-cutter as they’re likely to have had to listen to before.
Well, I did say one other thing to her: I said that in all honesty, I should be suing the Social Security Agency for shitcanning my file without notice, denying me my right to appeal a decision.
Really, I guess the question is what would be more work. What would be the more carnivorous depletion of my already limited resources.
And people and physicians and psychologists and politicians alike all wonder why autistic adults think so much, even if passively, about not living anymore.
At one point, she said that if I just don’t have it in me to do the appointment, I can call or cancel or just not answer the phone, although, she said, they don’t encourage the latter.
I noted the irony of that position, given that their own phone system unceremoniously hangs up on people after fifteen minutes of being on hold.
It’s possible that in fact administrative burden is the term I was searching for after all, although I could have sworn the phrase I heard was more cutting.
Also, speaking of ironies, what’s apparently the go-to dissection of administrative burden apparently cites Social Security as an example of reduced such burden.
It boggles the mind.
There was a prompt on Bluesky the other day: introduce yourself in three bullet points. There’s a reason my answer was Disordered, Surplus, and Medicore. It’s exactly how they want me to feel. I guess the system works.
There’s still one more irony. The local agent repeatedly laid this entire thing at the feet of the online filing system.
You know, the very one that the local office’s decrepit phone setup spends its first three minutes telling you to use because of how much you can do that way, and how easy it is.
This entire system is a scam.