methow grist 2011-2014 archive

Social Insecurity

What will follow is completely true. It occurred in 1997 when my daughter, Whitney Jo, was divorced and applied in Seattle for a new social security card with her maiden name thereon. Shirley S. Chater had just been replaced as Social Security Commissioner and her successor’s name was not known to us.

Whitney signed whatever was necessary to get her new card and the one she got had her name as Shitney Jo Spiwah. SpiWAH, it said. Needless to say social security (henceforth SS) told her she would have to bring them proof she was whom she said and provide valid I.D. They returned her request with a three page letter stating what would be accepted to prove she was her own self. Her previous SS card was not acceptable among the dozen things that were.

There were other conditions.

She sent me a copy of the SS letter and we had a great laugh. This inspired me to write the following letter.
* * * *
Shirley S. Chater’s Replacement
Commissioner of Social Security
6401 Security Boulevard
Baltimore MD 21235
February 18, 1997

RE: Shitney Jo Spiwah A/K/A Whitney Jo Spiwak

Dear Ms. Chater’s replacement

I am writing in regard to what might be construed as an error on the part of the social security office in Seattle. The above person (RE) Shitney Jo Spiwah is my daughter and I recall naming her Whitney Jo Spiwak. Matter of fact, my wife ( her mother) helped with the name. Whitney Jo Spiwak is an adult female and a liberated one at that. As she is working and I am a happy Social Security recipient, I offered to write you a letter.

As you may have surmised, the error has to do with the spelling of her name. I distinctly remember not naming her “Shitney”, and furthermore recall spelling our surname Spiwak as it is, rather than “Spiwah” as it appears on her card.

This could be passed off as a matter of “Shit Happens” or in this case shitNEY, but she applied in person at the Seattle office, filled out the forms required with her proper name (and she has been a good speller since the second grade) and while her cursive could stand some work, it is difficult for me to believe that anybody could construe a W for an S.

What makes this error more egregious is that she took the mistake in good grace (which she would not have done until she turned 19) and reported the error to the local office and asked for a correction. That office, as reported to me, was not at all cooperative and required that she once again fill out forms in order to prove that she is who she is, even though Social Security took away her identity in the first place. They sent her several pages of instructions, among them a paragraph requiring that “...we need documents that show identity. Notorized [sic] documents are also unacceptable.” Not only did they mis-spell her name, even “notarized” was wrongly spelled.

So here you have a liberated female woman who works for an international company in a highly responsible job. She must take time off from work to correct this error. As we fellow Americans are aware, there is a problem with balance of payments and her taking time off to once again correct the error could have a deleterious effect in that realm, which in turn would delay balancing the budget, which could mean that a Republican would be elected president and your own job goes Dixie along with The Union. Sort of a domestic Domino Effect, as we called it in the Viet Nam era.

I do hope you will look into this matter. As you can see, it is not only a matter of personal concern and family pride but the Republic could be in jeopardy.

Respectully yours,
Bob Spiwak (Father)
Winthrop, WA 98862

CC: Sen. Patty Murray


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