S is for Social Security

CAREGIVING:  Kathy has her second appointment with Doctor Jackson tomorrow afternoon. I confirmed the appointment and the ambulance arrival time. It is supposed to be reasonably mild out for December but it might be drizzling. I am hoping that she will be more alert this time but it is always a crap shoot. Maybe an injection of coffee is in order.

I printed Kathy’s revised med list to bring to the office. I like to have it printed out to give to nurses and aides that ask. There are also changes made by the clinic at UConn that Dr. Jackson doesn’t know about. As the Huntington’s Disease progresses, there is less need for some of the psychological medicines. They have cut back the Lexipro (Depression and Anxiety) and the Depakote (Mood stabilizer). Dr. Jackson had eliminated one of her blood pressure medicines too. So, it helps to keep it all on one list posted on the refrigerator.


Besides doing what I need to do every day it is time to reapply for health insurance. I hoped that because Kathy became a member of NaviCare on October 1, that I could just concentrate on my coverage. I just did all of this in the summer but I knew they were having everyone try to sign up again. At any rate, I cleared that up. I wanted to apply without involving Kathy at all because her insurance is working fine. No such luck.

One time when I applied with the help of a social worker, I received a letter saying that my “insurance had been discontinued” because I indicated that I “no longer needed coverage”.
Hello?! Have you seen me? We must have checked the wrong box. I started to apply on the web site and then I got to the part about family members.

I was going to go into one of the community hospitals where they will help you fill out the forms. I decided to do it by phone instead. The person was very nice, but we did have to apply for both of us. They need to evaluate your family income and see if you qualify for lower premiums. Then we got to the page on Kathy’s citizenship. “There is an error in verifying citizenship status.”

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She said there seems to be “a question about Kathy’s citizenship”. I told her that she has received disability and social security right along. “You have her enrolled in MassHealth so you should have all that.” “And what about our taxes?”

She said I needed to fax a copy of her Social Security card to them. Sounds like a simple request, but Kathy’s filing system was creative and ever-changing. She was the more organized of us, but we were both a bit too creative. I looked under “S.” And “K” for Kathy. Then under “D” for disability. “R” for retirement. I looked for my card too. It was not where I thought it would be. Then I said “The heck with this!” (give or take) and started faxing them a bunch of documentation to prove she was an American citizen. I sent her birth certificate, Social Security benefit letter and her MassHealth ID card. I faxed her Medicare card and a blow-up of her state ID card. Then I downloaded the form to apply for duplicate SS cards in case the ‘Throw it and see what sticks’ method failed.


On Saturday, an old friend came to visit Kathy. It was good to talk to her again. Kathy and I had been really friendly with them when we first moved to Hampden. She is a three-year survivor of breast cancer. I worked with her husband at Milton Bradley when I moved here. Life definitely has twists and turns, and they have had their share, too.

But everybody has stuff. After she left I thought about the mystery of the social security card. I realized I was having trouble just looking through those files because every sheet of paper was a memory. Almost everything is in Kathy’s handwriting, and some of it is only a few years old. There were filed papers about bank accounts and credit cards long since closed. She kept as much stuff as I did because; well you never know.

To make a short story even longer, I did find our Social Security cards. The folder was marked correctly but had been filed behind the “S” tab in the “T” section (between two years of tax returns). As Maxwell Smart said, “Missed it by that much!”

I faxed the card to MassHealth.The next evening I received a call from someone who wanted to speak to Kathy. “She can no longer use the telephone.” and could I help her?  It was someone from the MassHealth Connector. I told her I’ve been working on Kathy’s insurance. She insisted that she needed to get verbal permission from Kathy to talk to me. I said she can’t speak anymore. She asked if “We had filed a PSI or ARD with them?”

“A what. Or what?” I said I filled out all sorts of permission forms and patient privacy forms and it must be on file. Apparently they have a new form and she wanted me to fax a request for the forms; so I could fax them back. The deadline is December 23 (I think). Note that they haven’t discovered email yet. I was about to fax a request but then I looked on the MassHealth websites and found the forms. I filled them in and faxed them today along with Kathy’s Health Care Proxy and the Durable Power of Attorney.


As of this evening they haven’t decided whether Kathy is a citizen, an immigrant or whether I am allowed to speak for her. Tomorrow is the doctor’s appointment, so I’ll get back on this battle tomorrow.

Rant over. Good Night.

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