What Gerald E. Cartee really needs is a new heart.

His is wearing out, but it won't be replaced. Instead, he's seeking $700 a month in Social Security disability benefits to help him get by during whatever time he has left.

What Cartee is going to get, however, is a "tickle" on Dec. 30. That's when Social Security Administration bureaucrats will update, not resolve, his case, filed in July 2005.

"It's frustrating. God, it's frustrating," Cartee said. "You don't get anything out of them if you write or talk to them. It's like you're just another number."

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