Agency glitch hits county residents
By Suzanne Zalev
EUREKA -- About 150 Social Security recipients in Humboldt County will get
a smaller check than usual due to a state agency's computer glitch, but
officials say the money will be reimbursed as soon as possible.
The state Department of Health Services mistakenly dropped 16,400 people
from a state program that pays their Medicare premiums, the Associated
Press reported last week. The recipients, all of whom are enrolled in the
In-Home Supportive Services program, will receive checks that are short by
$136.50 -- the same amount as three months' worth of Medicare payments.
"The agency is working feverishly ... to get the checks reissued just as
soon as they can," said Ernie Messerly, assistant district manager for the
Social Security Administration's Eureka office.
Messerly wasn't sure when the situation will be remedied, but said he
expects to know by the end of today. Officials at the Eureka office also
weren't sure who the 150 people are -- that office doesn't have a list of
people who are enrolled in the county-run services program.
The local office won't be reimbursing the recipients, he said, and the
check-issuing agency will have that list. The county Social Services
Department will send letters to the affected people, he said, and if
necessary, they would be able to show those letters to landlords or other
Interim county Social Services Director Maurice McMorries could not be
reached for comment.
Humboldt Bank officials weren't sure how many of their customers will be
affected, but Mike Gilpin, an electronic services representative, said the
bank is working on it. If a customer needs the money and can verify the
regular payment amount, the bank can advance the funds, said Pam Olmstead,
"Basically we would advance funds to the customer," she said.
Messerly said the office has been receiving calls since last week, when
people began receiving letters that they would be getting reduced checks.
There also were calls from people who will not be affected but who had
seen news reports about a Social Security glitch and were worried, he
"As far as we know, everyone (who receives In-Home Supportive Services)
was affected," Messerly said.
Most people receive their checks on the third of the month, he said, and
there are about 21,400 Social Security recipients in the county. The
average payment to a retiree is $781 a month, the Associated Press