A bracing time with a federal bureaucracy

I had a rather pleasant experience last week in dealing with a government agency, and it’s something that bears the telling.
With a milestone birthday looming, it was time to contact the Social Security Administration to begin the process of filing for Medicare benefits. There was a recollection that the local office was once located on Gallivan Blvd in Adams Corner, but it moved several years ago to Freeport Street.
In the digital age, the first step is to go online, and a visit to socialsecurity.gov elicited a wide array of information. After I typing in my Dorchester zip code, the website quickly gave me the local address- 115 Freeport Street- and a street map noting the exact location. I was also informed that an appointment would be necessary and given a toll-free phone number to call to set it up. A very courteous and respectful person answered the call, and soon I had a time that would work within two weeks.
The appointed day arrived last week, and I drove to Freeport Street and parked in an adjacent lot. After I entered the office, an electronic sign-in computer printed out my name and confirmed my appointment. After a brief wait, a very courteous staffer called me in and helped me to complete the necessary forms. The entire transaction was very efficient, and I was back in my car and on my way in less than a half hour.
I did cause the appointment to be prolonged just a bit, as I took the time at the end to offer my thanks to the woman who had just helped me enroll. My experience in this, my first encounter with Social Security, was so entirely pleasant and helpful that I paused to consider how so many public servants ­­– police officers, bus drivers, letter carriers, and others – offer invaluable assistance to the public, and do their jobs so well.
Too often, public employees get a bad rap. But that comes largely from the get-a-life talk radio crowd and their broadcast cheerleaders who waste so much of their waking hours grousing and complaining. As for me, last week I needed some assistance from a federal bureaucrat- and I got all that I needed. Thanks.
(The local Social Security office is located at 115 Freeport St. Dorchester 02122. Before visiting the office, it is helpful to call toll-free at 800-772-1213.
- Ed Forry
At last the national conversation about reforming the healthcare system has begun, and it’s an important step towards controlling the current economic malaise.
During his campaign last year, President Obama said he would tackle the healthcare issue, and pledged he would pay for the reform by taxing only those who earn more than $250,000. If you remember the debate, that’s when “Joe the Plumber” became the symbol of “small businessmen” opposing the reform, claiming it would prevent him from realizing his full potential.
Of course, good ol’ Joe turned out to be a ”faux plumber,” since he never really had a license, and ironically, he had never earned enough to reach that quarter million dollar threshold!
In June, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed “that a very solid majority ­– 62 percent – support taxing those who make more than $250,000 to pay for healthcare reform,” MSNBC reported this week. The puzzler is whether the political crowd in Washington can put down their swords and fashion a new healthcare system that everyone can live with.
– E.F.