Sunday, October 20, 2013

Red Tape and the Snowball Effect

We've been trying to laugh the past few days about our household situation. I swear my middle-aged (almost senior-citizen) nephew somehow rolled onto some sticky red tape and got himself en-snarled in it and now he's nothing but a great big ball of the nasty stuff.

We've been waiting for his disability to come through. To accomplish that task, we visited agency after agency (federal, state, county, local, and health) and at each one, filled out reams of forms. Each form had to be accompanied by its own set of backup "proof."

My poor 3-in-1 inkjet printer really got a workout making copy after copy. My stapler got a workout marrying each copy to the correct form. My paper clip supply fell away to nothing when I didn't want holes in some of the papers.

I'm sure many of you know exactly what I mean.

So, we figured that once he received notice that he'd be getting a small but reasonable monthly benefit payment, all that would be over.


It's worse. We had word on Thursday, for example, that Medicaid actually went through for him. We didn't expect to get that. They gave us his account number and said a card was on the way and to use the letter and the number in the meantime. We had an appointment for an ophthalmologist Friday afternoon and flashed our wonderful paper at them. 

It wouldn't go through. It was denied. The reason was "Inactive Status." The letter clearly said, and they could see it and agreed, that it was approved back to June 2013. Still, the automated system wouldn't accept it. Out comes the checkbook, which is now $185 lighter.

Good news is that if we can clear this up, and re-submit, eventually, it will be refunded.
So, tomorrow morning, we hit the Medicaid office with our letter, with a copy of the eye doctor's printout of the denial, and with a ton of questions. Red tape.

Also, his student loan from decades ago reared its head a couple of weeks ago. They plan to yank $150 from his reasonable-but-not-hefty monthly income. Of course, if we submit the right forms, they might be able to make it go away. Red tape.

I spent today with the first of two sets of papers. I wrote 8 statements to explain some of the expenses he was claiming on the Hardship papers. These papers allow them to consider halting the deductions until he can get them to discharge it entirely due to his disability and inability to get a job. They expect backup of food expenses - who keeps Food 4 Less and Walmart grocery receipts for a whole month?

I finally matched everything and packed it into an envelope ready to mail in the morning.
The other form, for the total discharge, is still making its way to our home. When that arrives, it is a different roll of red tape, one page for us, and one for his doctor.

And so, I wonder, how on earth did we ever get wrapped up in this huge ball of red tape that is getting bigger and stickier and, as my little sister used to say, worser and worser?

Father, I must laugh at all of this or else we'd cry. But I know you have our backs and once we get all of this to all of the right people. it will (or should) ease up. Meanwhile, please guide us to all the right answers to put on all the appropriate lines on all these wild and wonderful forms. We trust you. We must, because, you see, our eyes, ears and mouths are now covered with all this sticky red tape.  

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