Mom receives about 900 pieces of mail per month.
Every time she sneezes, it generates a Blue Cross Explanation of Benefits and a Medicare Summary Notice, not to mention bills and notices from the doctor/nurse/physical therapist/wheelchair rental service/blood lab/ambulance or whatever other agent or agency might have had some remote contact with her.
I don't read each one the minute it arrives. They stack up, though I do glance at each envelope to judge whether it is important or just another piece of paper to file.
Today, after filing her tax return for 2005 and balancing her checkbook for Jan. 31 and Feb. 28, I balanced her checkbook for March 31. And I noticed that one of her four monthly direct deposits (her Social Security, her Social Security as a widow, her pension from the U. of Md., and her Dept. of Defense income) did not arrive.
No wonder she has been short of money this month, drawing on her Visa overdraft protection.
I sent an email to her credit union asking if they knew why this deposit did not take place.
Later, after several more hours of balancing her March statement (mainly untangling charges to my ATM card from her checkbook, where I had erroneously entered them*), I looked through her "possibly somewhat important" pile of mail and found a letter from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
Please complete the enclosed Certificate of Eligibility and return it to DFAS, US Military Annuitant Pay.... required by law in order for us to determine your continued eligibility for your annuity payments.
We have suspended your annuity until we receive a completed COE.... Your marital status is required to update your account, please place an 'X' in the applicable box:
___ I did not marry in the past year.
___ I married in the past year (please attach a copy of your marriage certificate).
Right, another one of these forms. They seem to come monthly from one agency or another.
So that's why she is missing $920.55. They suspect that she may have married.
I emailed the bank and said sorry, I figured out why she is missing her deposit.
I wrote a letter to the DFAS.
Evelyn F. Eggebroten is 87 years old and has dementia. She is living on a secure floor in a residence with 24-hour nursing case for her illness, Lewy Body Dementia.
No way could she marry!
We do not appreciate your cutting off her DFAS check on April 1 because we did not promptly fill out a form that you mailed.
Sincerely, Anne M. Eggebroten, P.O.A. (daughter)
And then I reflected on the Department of Defense's view of her life and the lives of others in her age range.
Apparently they see these 80-somethings as quite active sexually and alert mentally. Hey, 87 is the new 77.
Or maybe they are harking back to a healthier millennium, thinking the elderly are all like Abraham and Sarah, begetting and conceiving and remarrying if a partner has died.
Isn't there a way one could inform the DFAS that one's elderly parent cannot walk or talk in a coherent fashion, or do any of the ADLs (dress, bathe, prepare meals, keep house, etc.)? that therefore he or she is 100% unable to take a vow of taking anyone to love and to cherish "until death us do part"?
In fact, those who are in their seventies or older and sexually active are also smart enough not to remarry and lose their Social Security.
I know of several couples (retired pastors and church organists among them, P.E.O. members, etc.) who would never have lived in sin earlier in their lives but find it necessary to do so now, for financial reasons.
The government hasn't found them, but it has cut off Mom's annuity. Go figure.
* Note: I carry two checkbooks and two ATM cards (deciding on each trip to the grocery store or Sav-On whether this set of purchases for both of us should go on her card or mine). And I do five income tax returns (hers, mine, and my three kids').