Friday, 15 August 2008

Dealing With Bureaucracy

Dealing With Bureaucracy
(Government Woes, Amongst Others)

When I first arrived back home from the hospital, my head was still reeling from coming to terms with this life altering injury. I arrived home to a mass of paperwork which had been demanded to be filled out and returned. Hardly able to comprehend what was before me, I dutifully filled out the forms & applications and sent them off. Now they were coming back to haunt me.

My intention was always to recover best I could and return to work. As such I had no intention of collecting my meagre pension at this time if I could avoid it. Nevertheless, I sent in the requested forms to my Private Pension Plan and to the Government of Canada Pension Plan with a cover letter explaining my intentions.

No I find out that my Private Insurance Carrier who pays my Long Term Disability (LTD) had at some time previous, reduced my LTD with the assumption that I am collecting monies from my pension plans. Why do they automatically assume that?? To avoid paying out I imagine.

So, to recover the amount of LTD they are withholding, I would have to contact each of these pension plans and obtain letters from them stating that I am not, nor have I ever (post injury) received any money from them.

Now I send off letters to each requesting from them letters confirming I have not received pay-outs.

My Private Pension Plan:
  • My Private Pension Plan sends me back a form letter acknowledging I have applied and stating that I am currently receiving free accrual of pension monies. No mention that I am not collecting income from them.
  • I write back again explaining in detail what I need from their office and once again get the same form letter.
  • A phone call clarifies the situation and I finally do get a letter stating that I am not collecting pension money from my private plan.
The Government Pension Office:
  • First letter goes unanswered
  • Second letter goes unanswered (is the phone the only acceptable form of communication these days? - they do supply a mailing address)
  • phone their offices and play the dreaded "your call is very important to us" phone tag game. Get disconnected and start again. Finally get through to a 'slow talker'. I ask him if he would send me such a letter? No! I ask him if his records show that I am or have collected money from the Canada Pension Plan. He answers "No". Then can he send me a letter stating that fact? He answers "No". "Why", I ask. "Because BY LAW we are not allowed to do that." "By law you are not allowed to write a letter to the fact that I am not collecting Pension Money?" from the government "That's right" -MORON!
My government at work on my behalf. Do they take courses on how to be difficult??
In the end he referred my request to a supervisor who did send a letter stating that my application is being processed. I hoped that "Being Processed" would be taken as not yet completed therefore not receiving benefits. In the end my Private Insurance Carrier accepted these letters and reinstated my full LTD benefits and sent me a cheque for the amount withheld. What a run around!!

The government stated on their forms that it could take up to 8 weeks to get a ruling on eligibility on receiving the Canada Pension. I finally got a phone call 4 months after applying and discussed with the representative my situation. I formally declined the pension as my intent was to return to work. My file would remain open for three months after which it would be closed and I'd have to re-apply.

Incompetence and paper pushing bureaucracy must have become an art form - or perhaps it's me who's a moron!

In addition:
My doctor charges $120 for filling out each of the forms - 2 Pension Plans and one Return to Work form. He gives me receipts to submit to my insurance company so that he can be reimbursed. I send them off to my private carrier and they only honour the 'return to work' form as it was at their request. Not sure where to send the others. Nobody acknowledges that they cover such an expense. So I guess the remaining two are out of my pocket. $240 to fill out applications for services I never wanted. Luckily my doctor was generous and forgave the other two.

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