In the summer of 2013, I reached that magical age that every American dreams about. No, I’m not talking about age 16 when I went and obtained my key to the roads of this country via a driver’s license, nor am I talking about ages 18 or 21 and all the wonders that those ages brought. I’m talking about 65 and qualifying for Medicare. Now this particular milestone is somewhat complicated and must be approached with care. We had experienced the process when Larry turned 65—he’s far older than me. I admit that the word far is relative and in this case means 4 years, but that’s a moot point. Anyway, I’d learned to start the process early and with great care.
I called the Social Security Office in Vidalia and made an appointment to go over and talk to someone who knew more about the process than we did. I should have asked for directions, too, because on the day of my visit, I got lost—a common state for me since I have no sense of direction. When I finally arrived and checked in with the machine that organizes the place, I didn’t have to wait long. Really, you do check in with a machine. I don’t think it’s a computer. It’s too simple for that. The lady who sits behind the desk only directs people to the machine. She monitors the room for rule breakers, like people chattering on cell phones. Those are told emphatically to take their conversations outside. And when you return her pencils and clipboards to her desk after filling out the obligatory forms, be sure to line them up exactly the way she had them. She has just a touch of OCD.
Actually, the sign-up process was fairly simple because I chose to let an expert do it for me. Before I knew it, I was all signed up—except for 2 minor details, that is.
“Ma’am,” the nice young lady told me, “we can’t finish your application until we have a valid social security card for you. Yours is illegal.”
“What?” I asked, astounded. “Since when?”
“Well, actually, since 1974,” she replied. “When you officially changed your name back then, the issuing office forgot to put the state on it. It just reads Hazlehurst, but it doesn’t say Georgia or Mississippi. You’ll have to apply for a new card.”
“Can I do that, too, while I’m here?” I asked.
“Yes, ma’am. Do you have your birth certificate with you?”
And you know, I didn’t. Most days I carry my birth certificate around with me in a pouch around my neck, but she caught me on an off day.
“You can mail it to us, if you like,” she said. “Be sure it’s a certified copy. I’ll just put your Medicare paper work on file until we get it.”
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