Seperis (seperis) wrote,
Seperis
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client and interviewer privilege

Interviewing people for eligibiity for government benefits is, usually, pretty mundane. Question here, verification there, and usually, it goes by clockwork. You could conceivably do it in your sleep. I wouldn't recommend that, but half of all cases are pretty--well, simple.

Then of course, you get the fraudsters.

They make life fun.

It's not that I'm advocating a life of fraudulently ripping millions off the taxpayers or anything for my amusement, but I have to admit, a lot of the fun quotient of my job comes from the days where my thumb itches on the keyboard, when they say something just so--wrong--that I sit up straight, pull my keyboard close, and smile cheerfully.

Lying is like chumming the water, man.



Take X Family today. I can't prove it. I can't nail down why I started itching. Maybe it was their enthusiasm, or their multiple-state moving, or the fact I caught them in an untruth about the wife's citizenship status, there not being one. But it was there. I ran the SAVE, the new and improved, paranoid version of the federal alien database, where you can look up the residency and alien status of any legal alien living in the US (they also make me use letters, numbers, *and* special characters in my password, which is just. No. Too hard to remember). I ran data broker, code name Big Brother Actually Exists. I ran TWC, which registers any jobs you've done in Texas if your employer paid taxes for you. I didn't run OAG, the Attorney General's child support office, because in this case, it wasn't really going to be useful.

I *know* they were lying. I can't prove it, at least until I can get on teh phone Monday and call two other states, but--they *so* have benefits in other states. They just felt wrong. It also didn't help they spent half the office time talking in Spanish to each other. My Spanish sucks, but I know getting the stories straight when it's going on right in front of me. *Please*. I grew up in Texas. I can tell when you are pronouning to me, 'kay?

This, of course, wasn't that bad, compared to some of my personal favorites.

Me: Do you pay rent?

Her: No. I live in my ex-boyfreind's parents' second house.

Me: ... Okay. And he broke up with you.

Her: A few months ago. He doens't live with me and the kids anymore.

Me: ... Um, okay. He's stil working, right?

Her: Yeah. I guess.

Me: And he pays your utility bills, since you aren't working?

Her: Yeah.

Me: And the other bills.

Her: Yeah.

Me: But he doens't live there.

Her: No.

Me: Mmm. I need to verify this, since I'm still showing his residency being that house.

Her: OH sure! Can I have benefits today?

Me: *sighs* Yeah, but only one month before...

Her: Cool!

Me: *sigh*

Needless to say, I never got the verification that he didn't live there, and I denied the case.

One of the things that's being debated is getting rid of Data Broker. IT gives us such useful infromation as what vehicles are registered in what name at what address, criminal record, credit report, marriages, you name it, you live in Texas, you have something here. Now, dont' get me wrong, I'm not fond fo the thing myself. I don't liek the concept of a single database holding my life story for anyone with the right passwords to see.

But then we get Client G, she of the 2002 Mercedes, applying for Food stamps. Or the people from Cat Mountain with the boat--the actual, God help us all, *yacht*--getting their kids on Medicaid.

The truth is, and I say this as someone who decides eligibility for a living--it is *easy* to defraud the system. It really is. Policy, as set out by the state of Texas, allows a *lot* of leeway for people to simply lie--we can and *do* take client statement sometimes when there's nothing else available. This would include people who are self-employed, and people coming from other states about their employment, etc.

So I know a lot of people lie to me. Most of the time, you can tell when they're lying. And usually, you can tell why. A lot of the time, it honestly doesn't make a difference. Usually, I don't care that much. And I say this in a socialist-jenn way--single parent families wiht ex-husbands adn ex-boyfriennds or ex-wives and ex-girlfriends, are not on my list of people who need to be triple examined on everything. I see way too many women whose husbands wandered off with the flavor fo the week and left them with four kids and no job. It's depressing. I won't falsify data, and I certainly won't overlook what they tell me, but I'm not gonna hunt down every thing they say and make them verify it in blood.

But a *Mercedes*? Jesus. Perfect *credit* I would give up toes for? Never missed a payment? No rent, no utility bills, but no, you don't live with anyone and don't work? A *Nordstrom* and *The Men's Warehouse* charge accounts, but no, yo don't *live with anyone* and you don't have a job and no money? Come the hell *on*. No one's buying that shit.

That wasn't my case, but I got to listen to the caesworker M, she who almost married a prince, argue it out. She is very blunt. She's kind of scary. I like her muchly.

Like I said, it's relatively easy to defraud the system. You just really, realy don't want to be caught, and it's easy to defraud, but just as easy to be caught. Just most of the time, we dont have the time or know where ot look to find out what you are trying to hide.



Other Things That Come Up:

1.) False social security numbers--I have had four clients come in whose social security numbers are being used by someone that isn't them in a different part of Texas. One was a nine-month-old baby. In all honesty, it's pretty easy to get one of those. Through exposure, I think I can even guess where it might be going on.

2.) It hits me, when I read paystubs from illegal aliens, that the fact that these paystubs are holding out SS, taxes, Medicaid, etc, that some of the people I interview *are* users of stolen social security cards or false social security cards--but mostly stolen cards. I can't do anything about it legally or ethically, but the knowledge sometimes just--bothers me. Sometimes a lot.

3.) I desperately want to introduce some of these people to the concept of birth control. I am being really not-nice and not-politically-correct when I think that, but seriously, when you've been on benefits since you were born, never held a job, and are on your fourth kid by your fourth boyfriend, now in jail like the first three.... I'm just saying. It's getting old.

No, I *had* that client. It was surreal.

4.) This is where I sound like a scary conservative--I'm rethinking the concept of citizenship being bestowed by birth on American soil. I'm not like, advocating a citizenship test for everyone or anything like that, but three quarters of the people I see are people who have (two, three, four, five) kids in Mexico, then cross over the border to have the next, and the first thing some of them do is apply for state benefits for the child. Foodstamps, Medicaid, TANF (cash payments). I'm having a moment of weirdness. It will pass.

5.) I could hang Perry for gutting CHiP--Children's health insurance in Texas, for those who don't qualify for Medicaid. I could gut him.

6.) I never really understood why lawyers have to have that client privilege thing, until I started working here and our version of client-interviewer privilege went into effect. I mean, I approved in an intellectual way, because that's what I learned, but it's just sinking in, really, how *much* I can find out about a client, his life, his past, his present, and how much access to private records I have, and how damned important it is that the privilege stays in place. It's not just to protect the client, but to protect *us* from being unethical, from the temptation to be unethical. I can't and don't report the names and addresses of all the undocumented aliens I interview, or the fact they use false social security numbers, or anything else that comes up. I wouldn't even if I wasn't legally bound not to, but it's nice to have that in place, along with procedure for being issued a subpoena or called to testify in court.

So, still not burned-out yet. *grins* I'll give it time.

Update on Family

My family, my two sisters in particular, decided suddenly to go insane in August and early September, along with their husbands/boyfriends. It's a long and kind of degrading story in relation to both (separately, not together) that is so close to Jerry Springer that no matter how many times I try to explain it, I sound like I'm retelling an episode, and I honestly don't believe it myself. I don't think it's ever a good day that I'm the most stable, responsible, and dependable of my parents' children. There is something inherently wrong with that. But everyone seems to be--and this is what's creeping me out--pretending *nothing happened*.

I mean, like *nothing happened* at all, and I mean, it's not like conversation is a mined field you have to tread carefully--it's like there's a big, blank space of time that doesn't exist except, apparently, in my head and my mom's. It's one of the few times that I start looking for unexplained scarring, because amnesia like this feels too X-Filey for me.

I'm also lusting after my brother-in-law's twenty year old stepbrother, parent of a two year old child. I am so going to some kind of special hell. God, I hope he's twenty. He had *better* be twenty and not still nineteen. I mean, on the surface, this is the shallowest of my problems, but it's the one I'm most intimately connected to, since he keeps wandering around in torn shirts and he has the flattest stomach and prettiest smile I've ever seen, and he plays with kids like this way-too-young-and-perfect-god-of-good-fathering. Seriously. My uterus noticed, and my uterus and I both decided during contractions with Child that there was no way in hell we were ever going to go through this again.

Stupid female hormones.

Clubbing tomorrow night. Dens of iniquity to drive the wholesome cuteness of that boy out of my head. And he is cute. And he's a total sci-fi geek. He reads and likes Star Trek and Star Wars and oh God, dammit, I'm twenty-*eight*, I do not, will not molest children who can't even *legally drink* yet.

I may lose my cool if I find out he watches Smallville, though. Or reads comic books. Or mentions Star Trek Voyager in passing. I am only so strong. If he tells me how much he likes Janeway, I mean--really, who could resist that?

*sighs* I am going to go worry about fine lines and exfoliation now. It's safer.
Tags: jenn's life, work
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