Thursday, December 08, 2011

Mourning For America

Nobody knows when an accident is going to change their life and as more Americans continue the slide into poverty you would think there would be more compassion for their fellow man. Unfortunately, you would be wrong.

I love how baggers and dittoheads babble on about how government workers are lazy, overpaid, couldn't get a real job if they had to and every one of them that becomes unemployed is better for the taxpayers, yet complain about how long it takes when they have to do anything at a government office.  Or that people are abusing food stamps and don't really need them.  Then within the last few days reports of rural suicides increasing amid Medicaid cuts and a story like this comes along and they still can't make the f****ing connection between penalizing people (An 18 page application? One would think Texas purposely makes it difficult for anyone to collect aid.) by reducing or eliminating services for those who don't have the political clout to defend themselves and the despair that causes people to kill themselves and their families.  These are not isolated incidents and there will be more of them as more people feel they have no way out.

The powers behind the throne have successfully conned gullible Americans into demanding that the poor, the disabled and the elderly should pay the price so the rich won't have to contribute while they rob this country blind.  All the while never realizing that the problems didn't exist until the powers that be needed a distraction as they turn America into a third world country.

Like a majority of the world's population my financial situation deteriorates every day.  If you receive SSI (as I am stuck doing until my appeal goes through) you are not allowed to have more than $674 a month under any circumstances.  Otherwise two months after you made the extra few dollars they reduce your benefits until the overpayment is taken care of.  Funnily enough it does not work the other way around. If they underpay you they are not obligated to make up the difference.

After I was declared disabled I continued collecting unemployment while I looked for work that wouldn't aggravate my disability.  Unemployment was deducted from the $674 to make sure I didn't get ahead.  In August I started suffering from trigeminal neuralgia in addition to my disability and stopped collecting unemployment as I was no longer able to look for work while electrical shocks were stabbing me in the face every few minutes.  Since SSI runs two months behind I didn't start collecting the full $674 from them until November.  This means I was underpaid by $157 in August, $236 in September and $312 in October.

My rent is $475.  Other bills include utilities, car insurance and the student loan that was turned over to a debt recovery company.  Those nice people added $50k in fees and interest for a grand total of $148k and continually want to know when and how much I will pay them each month.  Anyone with basic math skills can tell that my income is less than my outgo.  Fortunately for me my landlady is of the saint variety and deferred October's rent until after the first of the year when hopefully I can start making payments to bring me current.  She isn't even charging interest.

This arrangement was based on the assumption that SSI would be making up the difference as the months passed and they could tell that I had been making less than $674.  Well, you know what they say about assuming. I went to the Social Security office to find out when they would credit me the underpayments since they were so good at penalizing me for overpayments that occurred when the calendar month and unemployment weeks didn't match.  After half an hour of trying to explain that I hadn't made $674 for the last few months I finally realized they weren't going to fix the underpayments.  Panic started to set in, my voice started to rise and polite behavior proceeded to go the way of the Dodo bird.   I barely made it to my car before saying things that would get me arrested.

Obviously I don't have enough money for food so Nevada graciously gives me $188 in food stamps and I can eat relatively healthily given the limited variety of fresh vegetables in Reno and an ability to cook from scratch.  To help make ends meet we found a third roommate and got rid of cable and the internet.  Tabletop antennas pick up local channels and I discovered that I don't watch enough television to justify paying for cable or satellite ever again.   I was without the internet for a few months and going a little stir crazy until E took pity on me and installed the cheapest DSL for internet access.

With these changes I am almost able to meet my obligations and with "free play" from the casinos I occasionally have some money to put gas in the car and keep it just above the line that says E. I can walk to the store two miles away but I can't carry many groceries while using a cane and from bitter experience I know that the following two days I'm unable to do more than lurch around the house, oofing and woofing with every step.

If you've made it this far through my sad tale, there is a small spot of hope on the horizon.  I was talking to another vet at the VA and a social worker overheard my story.  It seems that since Social Security declared me disabled and I served more than 90 days during a time of war (government inefficiency at work, Congress was really slow to declare the end of the Vietnam debacle), I qualify for a non service connected disability pension.  $985 a month. I can't believe how excited I am about an extra $300 that still leaves me in the poverty zone.  The paperwork has been filed and the local AMVet office is trying to expedite it but it will probably take a year before that help arrives.  Meanwhile the social worker at the VA will get my doctor to sign the disability papers from the debt recovery company so they don't garnish my Social Security and I might be able to keep my head above water until the pension kicks in.  Yippee!

Not everyone is so lucky and it pains me to see that for a so called Christian nation people seem to have forgotten "there but for the grace of God go I".



  1. Deb, my heart goes out to you and I hope your current situation improves soon. I've been broke myself, and once tried to collect unemployment, but they kept telling me I'd receive a check the following week and nothing showed up in my mailbox. Luckily, I was able to get another job at the time. I was also turned down for Medicaid after I nearly died in the hospital uninsured and required an expensive operation; fortunately, the hospital eventually wrote off the debt, which amounted to a quarter-million dollars. I can't tell you how many similar tales from others I have heard, especially from working people with kids barely getting by on food stamps, and young college grads and those over 50 with experience unable to find work in this economy, even a minimum wage job. Hopefully, the OWS Movement will help this dismal situation, but it's undeniable that the reverse Robin Hood nature of our politics has just about ended the American dream of economic advancement through education and/or hard work. Have a happy holiday season, regardless, because I think things are going to change for the better.

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