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Calling the Social Security Administration

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

This is approximately accurate.

(Computer Voice): “Thank you for calling the Social Security Administration. If you (unintelligible to me), press 1. We have received reports of scam phone calls, if you think you have received a scam call, let us know. How can I help you today?”

(My raspy voice): “I want to talk to someone about Medicare Part D.”

(Computer Voice): “We don’t offer pedicures. If you think we should offer pedicures, hang up and dial 800-555-1287. Unless you have a hangnail, then you should visit your local Social Security office and file a disability claim. That is if you are between ages 37 and 65. Otherwise, call 800-555-6781.”

(As clear as I can say it and louder): “I want to talk to someone about Medicare Part D.”

(Computer Voice): “Social Security does not offer retirement parties. We do offer a death benefit of $255. That could possibly be used by your survivors towards a party.”

(Me): “Well, while you are at it can you tell me why the death benefit is only $255?”

(Computer Voice): “It was established in 1937 and was never indexed for inflation. In 1937 and until 1952, the $255 amount was greater than three times the maximum monthly benefit.”

(Me, silently thinking): Thanks for pointing out in one succinct phrase how incompetent the federal government is – the last time I priced a funeral, it was over $10,000. Hmm. Maybe the computer understands me now.

(Me): “Could you connect me to someone who knows something about Medicare Part D?”

(Computer): “What do you want to know?”

(Me): “How to apply for Medicare Part D.”

(Computer): “Apples are not a part of Medicare Part D.”

(Me): “I just want to know how to fill out the forms for Medicare Part D.”

(Computer): “We will send you an instruction packet. It contains 47 pages plus one page for the Paperwork Reduction Act.”

(Me): “Will I be able to fill it out online once I get the package?”

(Computer): “Oh yes!”

(Me): “When can I get the package?”

(Computer): “What is your ZIP code?”
(Me) “30096.”

(Computer): “ZIP codes don’t contain words like ‘tree” nor do they contain phrases like ‘mine’s sick.’ Please state your ZIP code.”

(Me): “30096.”

(Computer): “I told you that won’t work. Why don’t you move to 10001 and call me back? I can understand that.”

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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