News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists


Battle over benefits can be anything but civil

The folks at the Social Security office in Decatur must feel like the beleaguered Rebels of Petersburg.

Yankee soldiers surrounded the Confederate Army outside Petersburg, Va., 143 years ago and tightened the noose, waiting for surrender.

For the Rebels, it turned into 10 months of hanging on in what became the longest siege in American warfare.

Armed Yankees arenít the problem for Social Security workers in Decatur. Instead, they are besieged by lawyers.

New law offices are locating on each side of the government building on McGlathery Lane Southeast.

Construction crews have completed one of the offices and the sign outside advertises its specialty: Social Security cases.

What a coincidence!

This would be the right place for a real estate agent to say ďLocation, location, location.Ē

Having never dealt with the Social Security Administration, I donít know whether the siege in Decatur is justified. I called to get comments, but only heard busy signals.

An acquaintance who is trying to get disability said he contacted an attorney before filing with the Social Security office.

The lawyer told him it is standard procedure for the administration to reject a filing like his the first time. He advised my friend to apply for benefits, get turned down and then hire a lawyer to get it done.

Now, he can use the same convenient parking lot for all his Social Security and legal needs.

Iím not taking sides in The Battle of the Benefits. Like God, the government and lawyers can both take care of themselves.

If I had to pick a winner, however, I would choose the lawyers.

The Social Security Administration might have a better chance if it dug a moat, stocked it with gators and installed portholes so workers could aim rifles out of their brick fortifications. Itís too late now, but maybe the government should have secured enough land to establish a DMZ.

The Confederates tried to break the Union stranglehold on Petersburg by a surprise attack that proved costly. Lee had to evacuate Petersburg. A week later, he surrendered to Grant.

With law offices surrounding its property, the Social Security office might be marching to its own Appomattox Court House.

Scott Morris is managing editor.

Scott Morris Scott Morris
DAILY City Editor

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