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December 22, 2012

Social Security: An oldie but goodie on Frosty the Snowman and direct deposit

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The Daily Star

---- — Yes, it’s that time of year again — time to go through my dad’s old holiday articles and choose one to share with everyone. Last year I printed two of my favorite stories, about The Grinch and It’s a Wonderful Life.

This year I thought it would be difficult to pick one, considering they are all so good. Who knew I would find the perfect, most appropriate tale to tell so quickly? 

With mandatory electronic payments for all SSI and Social Security benefit recipients just around the corner (March 1), let’s read a story originally published in December 2006, the last holiday article my dad published before his retirement:

I’m sure that you have all heard of Frosty the Snowman. His story has been told for decades in books, songs and even a movie, and it remains a favorite of children still today.

But while the story of the young Frosty has been told and retold, there has been very little written about Frosty in his later years.

Frosty went on to become a very talented illustrator of children’s books, and had many years of substantial earnings from which, of course, Social Security taxes were deducted. It was no surprise that Frosty looked forward to a secure retirement and, like many workers, he planned to start his Social Security benefits at age 62.

But as he got older, Frosty’s health deteriorated. He had always been overweight and his vision had never been good. But when he developed lung problems (probably from smoking his corncob pipe) he finally decided that he would file for Social Security disability benefits. So several years ago, on Aug. 30, he stopped work and the next day we helped him complete the paperwork he needed to file his claim.

Because of his severe health problems, Frosty was approved very quickly and he began to look forward to receiving his first Social Security check. But because there is a five-month waiting period before disability benefits begin, he was in for a considerable wait. In fact, his first check would not be delivered until March 3 of the following year. (This, of course, was before payment cycling.)

Finally, March 3 arrived and Frosty noticed that the weather was perfect, cold and overcast. So after a quick breakfast he put on his scarf and went outside to wait by his mailbox. But as he paced back and forth, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the mailman, he made a crucial mistake. He failed to notice that the sky had cleared and the temperatures had rapidly risen into the mid-50s.

The mailman was quite surprised to not find Frosty waiting by the mailbox. After all, Frosty had been telling him for days that he was expecting his first check. So he shrugged his shoulders, stepped around the puddle that had formed on the sidewalk, and put the check in the mailbox.

As I am sure you have guessed, that check was never cashed. It certainly makes a good case for direct deposit, doesn’t it?

So if you are still receiving paper checks, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/deposit, to learn more about direct deposit. If you do not have a bank account, you can request a Direct Express debit card. You can also contact us (800) 772-1213 or locally at (877) 628-6581 with any questions. Remember, you only have a few months before the deadline. And most importantly …

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

Tracey W. Marmet is district manager of the Oneonta office of the Social Security Administration. ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.