February 11th, 2011


The social security administration adventure

I filed my 2010 taxes last week. Well, I tried to. I did the efiling option for my federal return, which involved a signature with a PIN and my date of birth. That evening I received an email saying my return had been rejected because my date of birth was wrong. Except it wasn't. I triple-checked it after typoing it the first time and made sure the month and day were in the correct order. They were.

The Social Security Administration had it wrong, according to the info I found. I tried calling the nearest social security office and spent nearly twenty minutes on hold before getting a hold of a human. I explained my problem to the man who answered the phone, who checked and discovered that my date of birth was wrong. He couldn't fix it over the phone; I'd have to come in with a birth certificate and photo ID to get it fixed.

I did that on Friday. I showed up at the social security office at nine sharp, right when they opened. The waiting room was already full of other people who had the same idea. Luckily I brought Narnia with me, and I got through a good chunk of The Horse and His Boy while waiting.

The first time my number was called, I went up to the counter and explained my problem. Nothing of note happened here except that the person behind the counter wasn't the one to help me. Someone would call me by name. Fine, I could do more reading. By now I was used to waiting.

Eventually someone called out my name and prefaced it with "Attention, ladies and gentlemen." He said my name really slowly as if he were afraid to mess it up. Most people do it. He got my name right, and I commented on it. He took me to a room full of desks and sat me down at one.

It turned out that my date of birth was wrong by ten days, so the social security administration thought my date of birth was the seventeenth instead of the seventh. Funnily, this was what I mistyped my birthdate as the first time around before catching it; had I left it, none of this would have happened. He corrected my date of birth after I showed him my birth certificate and passport and suppressed the printing of another social security card. (I have one. Why do I need another one?) He also told me that it would take about twenty-four hours for the correction to push its way through the system. Fine, I'd wait until Monday to try filing my taxes again.

I wound up waiting until Tuesday, and the return got rejected again for the same reason. Grr. I tried again today, and the return got accepted tonight. About freaking time. Now I need to mail my state return and await my refund.

Oh, and how did no one notice for twenty-four years that my date of birth was wrong? No one has any idea. I can sort of figure out how the error happened in the first place considering that I made the same error myself. But how did no one notice for this long? Sure, I never noticed because I never efiled before now and that's when the error came up, but surely someone would have.
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