Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Help Me Howard: Medicine
Elaine signed up for the medicare prescription drug plan. The social security administration is taking the money out of her check. One problem. She's also paying for it and now she can't get social security to give her her money back. Can Help Me Howard? Here's the night team's Patrick Fraser.
WSVN--"Cause I love my family."
One of the first things Elaine Sosne looks for is her family.
Elaine Sosne: "That's my grandson."
She's got dozen's of photos on her fridge since her family is so far away.
Elaine Sosne: "I don't see them. One lives in Detroit and one lives in Portland Oregon. So I don't get to see them. I'm so glad I have my family here."
The pictures make her smile. Then it's time to get to her daily routines like taking her medication.
Elaine Sosne: "I take blood pressure medicine. Thyroid medicine."
Like many seniors, the cost of all that medicine is sky high.
Which is why she signed up for the governments prescription drug plan through AARP.
Elaine Sosne: "Social security was taking money out and was supposed to pay AARP."
Originally Elaine decided to have the government just deduct the 26 dollars for her medicine each month from her social security check.
But the next day she called back and said she'd rather write a check herself..
Elaine Sosne: "They said was fine."
So each month she paid for her medicines.
Then realized each month social security was also taking the money out of her check .
Elaine Sosne: "And I'm paying by cash which means I am double paying for this premium."
It gets worse; while social security is taking out the money to pay AARP for her medicine, AARP says they aren't getting it.
Elaine Sosne: "They've recieved no money from Social security saying that they've took it out of my check."
This has been going on since February and every day Elaine tries to get it straightened out.
Elaine Sosne: "I'm so frustrated. I must have spent 20 hours on the phone withi conference calls .. and I've gotten no where. In the end, they say you just have to wait."
And while Elaine waits, social security continues to take money from her check and does who knows what with it.
Elaine Sosne: "They should be able to tell me A) where the money went, B) When I will get my money back. And it shouldn't take five months."
So she gave up on the government and turned to that TV station in sunny South Florida to brighten her day.
Howard Finkelstein: "If a private business took money and didn't return it, that's theft. This seems to be the same thing because the government doesn't need Elaine's money. The bureaucracy is just indifferent or incompetant. To cut through the federal red tape, call your congressman or U.S. Senator's office. They have the staff and the power to make the federal agencies respond."
But since Elaine called us, we did it for her.
After we called the Social Security Administration they told us they would stop taking money out of her monthly check.
They would also make sure all the money they took was returned.
And after that they are going to try and determine what happened and where her money went.
Elaine says thats good because senior citizens deserve better.
Elaine Sosne: "They're hurting the people they were meant to help. This program was meant to help people, not hurt people."
Patrick Fraser: "Twenty-six dollars a month may not be alot to most of us, but we see people all the time living on 6 to 700 dollars a month. Twenty-six dollars to them is several meals a month."
And Howard mentioned calling your elected officials when dealing with the government. And if it's a private business, call the boss, and the bosses boss. Keep moving up that food chain till you get what you want.
Bureaucratic bungling bout to make you bolt? Need a prescription for a solution? Don't call our bosses bosses... Just call us we do a little work around here.
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