After more than three decades of marriage, Philip and Nancy Hablutzel are virtually inseparable.
"We go everywhere together," Nancy Hablutzel said. "Everyone at the court where I practice knows him, stuff like that."
The only one not convinced of their marital status is the state of Illinois.
Nancy, a state retiree, receives her health insurance through the state. Philip has been on her policy since 1996.
This year, in an attempt to weed out abuse in the system, the state's Department of Central Management Services hired an auditing company, HMS Employer Solutions, to determine whether all participants' dependents are legitimate.
The auditing company asked for one document to prove the couple are married — a transcript of their 2012 federal tax return.
That proved to be a problem. The Hablutzels, of Chicago, had previously asked for, and received, an extension from the Internal Revenue Service to file their taxes in October. They filed them on time, but their return got gummed up in the partial government shutdown.
When the couple asked the IRS in November for a transcript of their return, the agency said it did not yet have one and wouldn't until at least January.
Problem was, the state set a deadline of Thursday for families like the Hablutzels to prove they are legitimate.
Nancy Hablutzel said she called the Department of Central Management Services repeatedly, explained her dilemma and asked if it would accept another form of proof.
Repeatedly, she was told no.
"We gave them a copy of what we filed, as well as a transcript of the 2011 taxes," she said. "We gave them copies of our joint bank statements, our condo assessment bill, and other documents quite clearly indicating that we are still married, and therefore Phil is still my dependent. We offered to get notarized statements from judges and lawyers who know us, from our doctors, lawyer, pastors, and nothing was sufficient for them."
She said getting through to HMS has been impossible.
"I have been trying all day to reach HMS on the phone and their lines are busy, so either they have the phone off the hook or there are a lot of other people with the same problem," Nancy Hablutzel said.
With the clock ticking, she emailed What's Your Problem? on Monday morning.
She said that if the deadline isn't extended, or if the state won't accept other proof that the couple are married, her husband will be dropped Thursday morning from her health insurance policy.
"It's an absolute disaster," Nancy Hablutzel said. "I've offered to send them pictures of us in bed. Not literally, but they have everything else."
She said the state's insistence on a transcript of their 2012 tax return is rigid and arbitrary.
"I still like the guy; I'm not going to divorce him," she said. "I'm sitting there thinking, we are two competent lawyers and we can't get them to understand."
On Monday morning, the Problem Solver called Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Department of Central Management Services, and described the Hablutzels' situation.