White House staff aren’t the only ones looking for sob stories about folks affected by the government shutdown. The media are doing what they can to assist. Columnist Phil Kadner of the Southtown Star, a publication of the Chicago Sun-Times, lends a hand with “Shutdown becomes real for local residents.” The article begins:
Edgar Mullins, of Richton Park, and Justin Jones, of Chicago Heights, became victims of the federal government shutdown on Thursday.
They lined up early in the morning in front of the Social Security Administration office in Chicago Heights.
The office was open for business but wasn’t offering new or replacement Social Security cards, the reason Mullins and Jones were there.
Kadner writes the two lost their Social Security cards “years ago”, and need new ones by Monday so they can begin truck driving school. So now they’re victims because they can’t get cards replaced immediately? Phil might not know it, but when the government reopens, the victimization will continue. Social Security’s Web site specifies that replacing a card requires proof of identity and citizenship or current work-authorized immigration status, and “(a)fter we receive your application and verify your documents, you should receive your replacement Social Security card by mail within 10 business days.” Just a guess, but I'll bet verifying the documents takes a while.
Another victim Kadner located at the Social Security office was there because money had been mistakenly withheld from her benefit checks: “I finally got them to admit the error and came here today to ask when I’m going to get my check.” Gee, do you think perhaps she could have asked that question at the same time she got them to admit the error? Then again, when a columnist needs to find victims, he’ll do what he needs to.
Kadner also spoke with a 28-year-old woman applying for Social Security disability. She told him:
“I brought all my paperwork, but they told me they can make copies and put them into the system but can’t process my disability claim.
“I can’t work. I can’t get disability. I guess I will just have to wait until this thing is over with. I don’t have a choice.”
Maybe Phil could have explained to the young woman that processing such claims can take, according to Social Security, three to five months. And, if it’s denied, as two-thirds of initial disability claims are, the claimant can request a determination by an administrative law judge. The current processing time for such an appeal is over a year. So a government shutdown measured in terms of days, or even weeks, isn’t likely to have too great an impact on her claim.
If all shutdown victims stories are going to be as flimsy as Kadner’s effort, possibly the media should pivot to ObamaCare success stories instead. Oh, that’s right. They’ve already tried that.