Monday, July 28, 2014

The Genealogy of the SLO Bureaucrat Who Tried to Deny Me Social Security in 1998

On 20 August 1998 I went into San Luis Obispo to apply for my Social Security retirement. The woman in charge let me know that she knew everything, but everything about me, including how little I had made as an apprentice telegrapher on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe in 1952. She grilled me on what I would be working on. A book, I explained, a biography of the writer Herman Melville. Would I make money from that book? Well, yes, Ma'am, I hope so, although you never know what agenda-driven reviewers will do to sales. Sorry, she said, if you are going to be making money from working you can't apply for Social Security. Manning up, I stood tall and said, "Woman, I will walk on the beach for a year if I have to, but you WILL sign me up for my Social Security." "Sick," I wrote in my diary, "sick from shock that they could try to deny me benefits--'self-employed' indeed. I would never write another word rather than lose my benefits after quitting my job. . . . Very stressful."

I  got that woman's name and now have traced her genealogy. I have traced 16 of her [male] GGG Grandparents and 32 of the [male] GGGG Grandparents and have found that all of them, without exception, were bureaucrats in charge of looking over Revolutionary War pension applications under the Law of 1832 and finding frivolous reasons for denying benefits to the aged vets, for of course only the aged vets were still surviving. In the 97 cases I have examined so far, the most outrageous one was the denial of benefits to Patrick McElyea S2789 on the grounds that he had claimed to be "in the battle of Alamance near the line of Guilford County North Carolina in which he lost his horse, saddle & bridle,"--this when the Battle of Alamance was fought in 1771 and there was no such battle in the Revolution. There was of course such a battle in which Patrick lost his horse, saddle, and bridle. But look at the money the bureaucrat saved and look at the actuarial tables for the chances that Patrick McElyea would live long enough to get word of his rejection and to get strength to reapply.

It is singular that so many of the SLO Bureaucrat's ancestors all but monopolized the pension-rebuffing system in several Southern states.

I wonder if she is on Social Security now or if she has moral scruples about collecting, as some Revolutionary veterans had turned Friends and refused to apply for their pensions.

1 comment:

  1. For a possibly related item, try "Suffering Soldiers: Revolutionary War Veterans, Moral Sentiment, and Political Culture in the Early Republic" on Amazon and elsewhere: