Letter to the Editor

Your view: Citizens beware

Monday, October 25, 2004

My elderly father passed away a couple of weeks ago (Sept. 24). Before his body had hardly gotten cold, my mother received the following threatening notice from the Social Security Administration.

Their letter opened with, "Alton Horton is not entitled to monthly benefits beginning September 2004 because he died in that month ... you must refund this overpayment within 30 days."

They didn't say, "Sorry for your loss." They didn't ask, "Where can we send the money for his funeral expenses?" They didn't ask, "Do you have enough food to eat?" or "Can you pay your utility bills?" It was as if they were glad the old codger was finally dead - and they wanted to make sure that we knew that he was "not entitled." Gee, thanks for your sympathy!

For the record, Alton Horton (who has been a patriotic American citizen, positively contributing to society for 91 years) is a lot more "entitled" to a small single Social Security check than the billions and billions of dollars that have been wasted on rebuilding an ungrateful Iraq!

Shame, shame, shame on our government for such hatefulness and arrogance. Shame, shame, shame on our government employees (who are paid with our tax monies) that use their position to ram such arrogance down our throats. Neither my mother's nor my father's expenses stopped on Aug. 31 just because he died on Sept. 24! In fact, due to his illness and death, their expenses increased during the month.

I wouldn't have been quite so surprised if they had said, "OK, $1,200 divided by 30 days in the month is $40 a day, therefore, Mrs. Horton, you owe us back six unused days, which is $240." That would have been tacky and nit-picking enough. But, oh, no. They wanted the entire check back.

Most of us have known for quite some time that Social Security only pays $255 to help with funeral expenses. But I was not aware that they first took $1,200 back before they gave you the $255. You don't have to be too smart in math to figure out that those who have lost loved ones are coming out in the hole (unless their loved one is lucky enough to die on the first day of the month). I say, citizens beware!

Also, I had gone to significant trouble and expense to obtain legal powers of attorney for both my parents so that I could take care of their affairs when the time came. The attorney said it was a durable power of attorney that would be good for all matters. But when I called the Social Security office in Sikeston, I was hatefully informed that Social Security does not honor powers of attorney, and that they would not talk to me. I say again, citizens beware!

I get so fed-up with people's wimpy excuse about how they're just "doing their job." That is just a copout for spineless, cowardly people who do not have the backbone to do what's right. Hitler didn't kill six million Jews by himself. There were many, many collaborators and power worshipers who helped march all those innocent people into the gas chambers and shot them in the burial pits. Do you really think that on Judgment Day that God is just going to say to them, "Come on in you cowardly murderers. I know you were just doing your job."?

Or is it your pathetic logic that, since you haven't killed anybody, it's OK? It's OK to use your position to cause people undue hardship, stress, financial burden, wasted time and difficulty as well as insult their intelligence. If you're one of these people (whether you work for a government agency or in the private sector), you'd better rethink your logic. I hear it gets pretty hot in hell.

Barry W. Horton,

East Prairie