Social Security Administration, YOU SUCK!


Already in a bad mood over yesterday's failed house sale, I probably wasn't using the best judgement when I decided to call the Social Security Administration today.

On November 6, 2011 I received a letter that my cousin was due social security payments at the time of her death.  I was given a form to fill out and asked to send in a copy of my "Letters of Authority."  I did as was asked.  Then I waited.  And waited.

On January 31, 2012 I called my local social security office to ask them to follow up.  They said that they have no connection to this and I needed to contact the Great Lakes Service Center in Chicago, Illinois.  "Great... what's their number?  Oh... you don't know a number for them?  That's weird, but I will just Google it.  Thanks for your help."

Little did I know that the phone number for the Social Security Great Lakes Service Center is apparently one of the world's best kept secrets.  I did finally find a 1-800 number for Social Security and called it out of desperation (by the way, if anyone has found this because of a similar circumstance, the number is 1-800-772-1213).

I talked to a nice lady at that number who did some checking and said that they had received my paperwork and they were processing it but to be patient because sometimes it takes a couple months.  So I waited to let the government take their slow time.

At the end of February the Social Security Administration returned my Letters of Authority to me with a note thanking me for taking care of the paperwork they had requested.  GREAT, I thought!  FINALLY they are working on this claim.  I expected the money owed to my cousin to be deposited into the bank account by the end of the month.

That didn't happen.  So I waited another month.  Still didn't happen.

So today, 4/245/12, I called the same 1-800 number to try to get some information.  They claimed they are just a call center and can't help me, that they have no record of having anything on file for me, blah, blah, blah!  I had to remind them that they are full of shit and that I already know they received my info, that they returned my Letters of Authority with a nice thank you note, and that I have been waiting since November.  They then said that I need to go into the local office.

AURGH!!!!!!!  I started all this at the local office months ago and they can't help me! 

So then this service call center said they will send a message to the Great Lakes Service Center and have them look into it.  yeah right... I know all about black holes and I feel like my claim was about to be sent into one.  I asked for a phone number to the Great Lakes Service Center and was told they don't have one.  I know better than that.  So I asked to speak to a Supervisor.  And the lady I was speaking to was refusing to transfer me!  I stood my ground and eventually she did agree to transfer me, but not without being put on hold for 25 minutes in the meantime!  I waited....

The Supervisor repeated the same crap I had just heard, though she did tell me something interesting.  She said, "Underpayments are not a priority to us."  It could take an additional 120 days, apparently!  So, basically, the government is in the business of holding on to people's money and not paying it out in a timely fashion.  Gee... who would have guessed that?  <sarcasm>

So now I wait..... And in the meantime I am supposed to magically finish closing the estate and pay all the estate taxes due in a timely manner to the government, without the help of cooperation of the government!  Should be a fun couple months ahead. 

To be continued......

Take-a-ways:

1.) The government is wasteful and a pain in the neck to deal with.

2.) The social security administration sucks!

3.) Invest like crazy, because I have no faith this government agency can survive for long with this type of management.  DON'T RELY ON SOCIAL SECURITY TO LIVE ON IN YOUR RETIREMENT YEARS!  Even if they are still around, they are apparently allowed to hold on to people's money for 6 months or more.  And there is not a thing any of us can do about it.

4.) Did I mention the Social Security Administration sucks?

5.) If anyone has a direct phone number to Phyllis M. Smith, Assistant Regional Commissioner at Processing Center Operations at the Great Lakes Service Center that you could email me, I will be forever grateful!

The 'exciting news'... fizzled.


Yesterday I said I might have some exciting financial news

I wish I could still say that today.  :(

Here's the story....

As many of you know, my cousin passed away last year and I have been dealing with her estate.  I spent the winter fixing up her house and getting it ready to put on the market, which I did two and a half weeks ago.

Amazingly, there has been a lot of interest and I had an offer 2 1/2 weeks after it was listed!  For those who may not already know, I live in Ohio and our real estate market is not exactly hot right now, especially in the higher-end price range, so to get an offer so quickly was awesome.  Even better, the offer was for 97% of asking, which is practically unheard of.

The only potential set-back was that the buyers wanted to do a land contract deal at 4% for up to 18 months (with a very large down payment), at which time the balloon payment would be due.  For some, a land contract deal would not be feasible but for me, since I did not immediately need the cash from the home sale, it was a great deal.  Plus, the interest I would earn in the 18 months would put the final proceeds from the sale at well ABOVE asking price.

(Just as a quick note for those who don't know what a land contract deal is, basically the seller acts as the bank and the buyer pays the mortgage to the seller.  Terms are negotiable but generally they pay for 1-5 years and then a balloon payment is due for the rest.  It can be a great deal for both parties if done effectively.  Plus, if the buyer defaults on the loan the seller gets the house back and keeps the deposit and all the money collected in the meantime and can re-sell the house.)  

It almost seemed too good to be true!  And it turns out, it was.

Yesterday the buyers and I signed the paperwork for the sale, they gave the realtor the down payment, and they put their own current house on the market.  Things were falling into place.  Everyone was really excited about this deal.  I really liked this family and was happy that they were getting the house.

Well, apparently last night the buyers took their parents to the property and the parents thought there was too much land, upkeep, etc. and did not approve the sale.  Unknown to me or my real estate agent, the buyers were expecting their (senior) parents to help them financially.  The parents refused since they thought the house was too much upkeep.  And so the buyers pulled out of the deal this morning.

So much for my exciting news.  :(

I can fully understand not wanting to buy a property that might be a stretch financially.  What I can't understand is wasting everyone's time and signing all the paperwork and listing their own house before getting their parents approval, if they were relying on the parents for financial assistance.

This is also a good example of why we should be doing all we can in our younger years to get financially stable.  After all, would you want to be in your 50s or 60s and not even be able to pick out your own home without having to get your parents permission?  It's a good lesson for all of us.  And sort of sad, too. 

The house is back on the market as of right now.  If anyone is looking for a beautiful horse property in Ohio, email me!  :)

Exciting news...


Coming soon! 

Sorry for the teaser, but I don't want to jinx myself by revealing my exciting news until it is 100% certain.  Let's just say some of my recent stress will soon be behind me and it feels bittersweet. 

And as one more hint, this 'news' involves a financial deal so it is blog related. 

Any guesses?  :)

How Important is Reviewing Your Credit Report?


The following is a Guest post.

How Important is Reviewing Your Credit Report?


You probably have a general idea of your credit score and can estimate your credit history, but how often do you view your actual credit reports from the major credit bureaus?

Credit reports contain a lot of information about you and this information is shared with creditors and employers who check your report. Even though you may not realize it, checking your credit report at least once a year can help you identify credit problems and clue you in to identity theft.

Positive Entries

Lenders and creditors use credit reports to determine the outcome and terms of any application you submit for a credit product, such as a personal loan or credit card. When you compare credit cards online, you may notice the various rates and credit limits available. The rate and limit you'll qualify for depends largely on your credit report, which is used to set your score.

Check the positive entry section of your credit report carefully. This section has the information for your accounts that are current or paid in full, including creditor, account balance, limit and payment history.

Verify all your current creditors are on the positive section of your report. If a creditor you're paying is not reporting the account to the credit bureaus, you're missing out on the benefits of having an account in good standing on your credit report. Ask any creditor who is not reporting to report your account to the major bureaus.

Negative Entries

The negative entry section lists your delinquent accounts, accounts that are behind in payments and accounts sent to debt collectors. Other damaging information, such as money judgments obtained against you by a creditor in court, bankruptcy and foreclosure, is also listed in the negative section.

Make sure the negative information in your report is correct. If you believe an account is listed in error, you can dispute the entry with the credit bureau, which will investigate the matter. Include proof of your claim, such as a copy of the final account payment, when opening a dispute.

If your report contains negative accounts in your name that you did not open, you may be a victim of identity theft. Contact the local authorities and ask the credit bureaus to place a security freeze on your report. This will prevent creditors from accessing the report without information from you first.

Personal Information

The personal information section, usually found near the top of the report, shows your name and any previous names, current and previous addresses and your employment history. Check the personal information section for accuracy. Incorrect addresses, names and places of employment may be a clerical error but can be signs of identify theft.

Whether you compare credit cards online or get loan quotes from your local bank, you should know what's in your report before applying for credit. Cleaning up your report may help you get better credit terms.

Single Saver, where did you go?


I know. I know. I have been missing in action for the past two weeks. I apologize for that. I hate it when my favorite bloggers just vanish without explanation. I worry something bad has happened. And so it is extra appalling to me that I did that to all of you! Mea culpa!

i will be back. I promise. But in the meantime, let me let you know what has been going on in my life... and why I have felt so incredibly stressed that I just couldn't bring myself to do much online.

1.) I have three periods of time each year when I am completely SWAMPED at work. Yep, you guessed it... this was one of those times. I ended each day mentally taxed to the limit.

2.) I have had a strange infection in my system that won't go away. The last month has been Hell in that regard. Now the doctor thinks it is some form of a mutant, medicine resistant strain. Pending the test results (hopefully coming back today), she will be putting me on stronger medicine to end this once and for all. Fingers crossed... as I hate feeling this way!

3.) Many of you know that for the last 8 months I have been cleaning out and renovating my Dad's cousin's house, which I inherited. Last week I signed the paperwork to put it on the market. This was emotionally draining for me, as I spent a lot of time at that house as a child and have many happy memories there. I don't want to sell it, but I also am smart enough to know I don't need two houses. At least, not in the same town... if I ever have more than one house I hope one will be at the beach!

4.) And the kicker... my favorite kitty died. She had been sick for a couple weeks and the last couple days of her life were not happy ones for either of us. I miss her so much, but know she is in a better place. And I was able to be with her when she passed so I know she wasn't scared and pretty much just drifted away peacefully. Here's a picture of Sylvia.

Anyway, that has been my life.  Stress, stress, stress!  But I promise, I will be back with regular posts very soon!

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