Hi, my name is Susan, and I’m a procrastinator.
That first sentence is how I opened “Would Procrastinatrix Sound Sexier?”, my fourth blog post from way back in May 2016. (Read it here.)
And guess what’s changed since then? Not a thing. Just ask Glen. He’ll carry on at great length about it. He’s a little frustrated with me. Why? Well . . .
A few weeks ago I had it on my calendar to enroll in Medicare. Our insurance agent had cautioned me not to wait until the last minute, because complications could arise. Other people had told me the same thing, warning me that it was prudent to begin the process two months before my birthday. Failing to do it well in advance could torpedo the entire process. (And I still don’t know why that is, but I was determined to be a grownup for once, and get it done. I hadn’t slogged through sixty-five years just to throw away my free medical care.)
When the day in early August arrived, I put it off for most of the morning, drinking more coffee than I wanted and fretting over the task before me. Finally I sat down at the computer and took a deep breath. Then, in a resolute, grab-the-bull-by-the-horns fashion (qualities that no one who knows me would believe I’m capable of), I got on the Medicare website and went to the enrollment page.
And that’s where my good intentions ground to a halt. Because it turns out I needed to enroll under the name printed on my Social Security card.
I can’t say what prompted me—some hazy recollection, perhaps?—to get out the card and look at it for the first time in many years. I’ve known my Social Security number by heart since early college days, so I had no need to see the card. But when I did, I discovered that the last name on it was not mine. It was my first husband’s.
Several days of panic ensued. First there was a phone call to the Social Security Administration. They told me I must have proof that I am who I say I am. Astonishingly, my driver’s license, birth certificate and decades of tax returns—all in my maiden name—don’t count. This was followed by a call to the county clerk’s office. I scrambled to get my hands on the final divorce decree, believing that my divorce attorney had included the change back to my maiden name there. That’s where the necessary proof would be! But he hadn’t. Nor was the name change documented on any other scrap of paper in my possession.
Here we are several weeks later, and I’ve lawyered up. My current attorney has drawn up the name change paperwork (which I signed and had notarized) and I went to the county sheriff’s office to have my fingerprints taken. Two sets, suitable for the needs of the FBI and the Department of Public Safety. I had never done that before (it wasn’t a requirement in the 1980s) and it was kind of interesting.
They need these to keep a close eye on me, because there’s no telling what frauds I might commit, given the chance. As long as I’m going to all this trouble, I may as well get some fun out of it.
For each part of this process, everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve signed my first married name, followed by my real name, which, for these purposes, is my aka. It’s a peculiar feeling to sign a name I haven’t used in forty years. My attorney and I await an appointment to go before a judge, but this is Labor Day weekend. It may not happen for two weeks. Once the change is approved, I have to get a new Social Security card. And in the meantime, it’s getting later and later to enroll in Medicare.
This is why Glen is telling everyone who will listen what a lifelong procrastinator I am. He can’t believe I didn’t get my Social Security card changed when my divorce was final. I can’t either. But what I really can’t believe is that for once in my life, I tried to tackle something in a proactive, timely fashion, only to be tripped up by a boneheaded lapse from my past.
So what does happen when you don’t enroll in Medicare early enough? I have no idea, but I’ll let you know, because I think I’m about to find out . . .