Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Other People’s Mistakes

Monday came and went with no signs of the Inspectors. So, guessing the Great Inspection is done and over with, I'm taking my own sweet time getting myself together this morning.

Having just seen Head Maintenance Guy appearing to have taken a day off — he and his family all dressed in black as though heading to a funeral, walking down the walkway, heading to their car, for sure the Inspectors are gone and were gone after a mere three days.

These agencies are all the same ... easily fooled by the aesthetics, in and out in a flash, casework closed.

I'll have to check the Community Room later to see if the signs to not touch the refrigerator management confiscated from us are back up, LOL.

Speaking of agencies letting us down, alarming news I'm seeing is how others are being inconvenienced, lives are being destroyed because Social Security made a mistake, overpaid some for decades, and is now demanding repayment within 30 days.

Knock on wood, I've not received such a letter, but what would I do if I do receive one of those repayment letters.

Though it’s being suggested to contact the SSA, ask to have the repayment waived and/or negotiate, I have little faith in their being willing to accept responsibility for their mistake, give folks a break.

I’m reminded of the time, when employed at the law firm, and Office Manager Joe summoned me to his office to tell me the Payroll Department had made a mistake, overpaid me by $400, wanted repayment.

Not a huge sum, not a problem, so I told Joe I’d send them a check for the full amount and did.

A few days later, Joe summoned me to his office again.

The check was being returned to me.

Payroll said they "Didn’t want to do it that way". Did not want repayment in full.

What they wanted was for me to authorize them to deduct sums of money from future paychecks. Essentially, wanting me to accept a smaller paycheck over time …… however long it took for them to recoup the $400.

That sounded shady. So, though I didn’t understand the mechanics of the shadiness, I knew it would somehow help the Payroll Department fix their error, hurt me; plus, I didn’t like the idea of the Payroll Department taking money out of my paycheck that I couldn't track or trust they'd cease the deductions once the $400 treshhold had been reached, so I said NO.

There were calls back and forth between various Payroll pencil pushers to Joe, informing him I owed the money, had not paid it back.

I guess they were expecting Joe to put some kind of pressure on me, write me up, but Joe would just alert me to Payroll bugging out and that was that.

Nice guy Joe was. Always tried to be fair as he walked a fine line between satisfying the attorneys and doing right by with us secretaries.

Getting nowhere with Joe, some pencil pusher from Payroll called me directly, threatened to "go over my head".

Good luck with that, thought I. Joe was as far over my head as Payroll could go, and they'd already tried that.

This dance actually went on a couple months until one day Joe yet again summoned me to his office.

Payroll informed him my next paycheck would be $400 short as they were taking the full amount out of that check.

Guess Payroll figured they’d show me.

Joe and I laughed and laughed and laughed that Payroll had essentially done what I'd initially tried to do to balance their books in the first place.

This memory sent me to google Joe’s name, see if he was still alive.

Not only is he still alive but, holy moley, he's still working with the organization!

I put in something like 30 years before, fully vested, I moved on after a merger and relocation prompted me to accept another opportunity. Joe was there when I first arrived, so counting the years since I left, that means Joe has put in, at a minimum, 50 years.

Jesus! Fifty plus years in one agency.

Looking at Joe's photos, he has a healthy glow, has maintained a youngish appearance and now has the sweet position and title of Public Affairs Director at one the parent companies.

So, he didn't stay in one place— the Law Department, after the merger. Looks like he moved around and then ultimately up.

Too bad he didn't move over and up to the Finance/Payroll Department because, back in the day, it appeared that rather than a group of pencil pushers, they needed someone with common sense.

I imagine that, if I were to receive a repayment letter from SSA requesting a few hundred dollars, that would not be a problem. Hundreds of thousands, like some of those I see mentioned in the news article, would be an unsolvable problem. My only recourse would be to cry foul, because it's their mistake, ignore the letter, suffer the consequences.

I don’t own a home, so they can’t take that in repayment, I’ll survive if they take the only asset I have — the Jeep. So, other than put my arse in jail, there’s not a whole lot they can do to punish me for THEIR mistake.

What would you do?


  1. Bureaucracies... and the SSA. They once under-refunded us. Then sent us a check for the difference. Then said the difference was wrong and we owed them money. We wrote them a check. They returned it. Then told us THEY owed US more money. It's been more than 10 years and they haven't asked for it back.

    1. Good Lord! What a circus. How can those being asked to repay even trust they were actually overpaid, and owe anything, when this is how the agency operates?

  2. I played a game like that when I worked at the phone company. I forget the exact circumstances but in the end I owed them $.01. The sent me a letter telling me that. I didn't send them their penny right away. I let it ride for 18 months and many letters from them. Finally my district manager wanted to know why my name was on a monthly report every month. My boss said to fix the problem. I mailed a check to them for $.01.
    Afterwards, I thought I should have sent them $.02 and made them send me $.01 back.

    1. That would have been justice to have sent .02 causing them to send .01 back. 😄

  3. Oh I'd plead poverty and tell them, nicely, to shove it.

    1. LOL. Me too. They should leave folks alone and eat it, pay for their own mistakes.

  4. If you pay the money back in full and one lump sum, they'
    d have to explain that; but little dribs and drabs from your check might go ignored,
    Good on you for standing your ground.

    1. Well that's interesting. I instinctively knew something weird was afoot in not accepting the total amount. Someone was evidentially trying to hide THEIR mistake and, in the end, had to fess up because, when it comes to bullying badgering trying to make me do what someone else wants, I turn to unmovable stone.

  5. Now you've scared me since I want to start SS in January. I hadn't heard they were making these big stupid mistakes! Linda in Kansas

    1. You've not seen the news???? It's plenty terrifying.

  6. I watch news, and look at CNN, ABC, CBS, and BBC on line. Is this a big hiccup in California, or happening everywhere? Linda in Kansas

    1. It's breaking news here, so I don't know if just in California or only broadcast here. Try googling "social security overpayments" and you'll see some of the articles. One woman reportedly had to sell her house to pay back an enormous sum.

  7. Social Security overpaid the Daughter on SSI due to their mistake of eliminating a Trustee...me...and she was non compos mentis to comply with paperwork for when she was institutionalized so in and out of facilities for Mental Illness...so they kept checks flowing and didn't do their job. So when they whined to me I told them I'd told them their decision was a risk... she's too I'll to manage her affairs...so good luck with that. As far as I know they either wrote it off or covered up their incompetence...Dawn... the Bohemian

    1. Now knowing they don't know what they're doing, that no one is minding the store, I'm wondering if, in addition to overpayments, they may be underpaying some of us.