Disability Determination Made: Now deciphering the results
Disclaimer: I’m not coherently thinking at the moment, not that I’ve been that coherent ever for the last year. I received news yesterday, and more today. I feel like I’ve been hit, repeatedly, by a soggy 2×4.
The news is the typical good news/bad news/just news variety. (From here out abbreviated to: GN/BN/JN.)
GN: Whoo Hooo. I’m now officially decrepit. My application for Disability was approved — on the first application. As I’ve said in past posts, I have not read one instance where Disability was approved on the first application; the game is always deny-appeal-award. I bucked that trend.
BN: Whoo Hooo. I’m now officially decrepit. I put off applying for disability because I couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t want to admit to myself that, yeah, mentally and physically I’m pretty fucked up. Who wants to acknowledge that? Finally, as a New Year’s’ To Do (do I know how to celebrate, or what?) I sat my ass into the desk chair and applied for Social Security Disability. So if it is good news that you are officially recognized as disabled, then your life is kinda fucked up.
GN: Although I’ve been bemoaning the snail’s pace of the process, and grumbling at some of the stupid requests (like April 10th’s psych evaluation by a Social Security peon after a psychiatrist (MD) already did an evaluation), my case moved through relatively smoothly and for this government procedure, also relatively quickly. Honestly, I think part of that is living in a small stated versus something like California.
JN: The 2019 level of poverty is $12,490 for a single person.
BN: My yearly income on Disability will be $11,196 … more than $1000 under poverty level.
BN: My current rent is $1025/month + electricity/gas. The Disability is $933/month. So, yes, moving is what is happening.
BN: Homelessness is still a very real possibility.
JN: The highest amount of food assistance/stamps for a single person is $192/month.
GN: At $933/month I will still qualify for food stamps.
BN: If homeless (ie. no rent or utilities deductions) then my food assistance will be $16/month.
BN: If I can get subsidized housing, say for $450/month rent, then my food assistance skyrockets to $60/month.
BN: At $933/month I do not qualify for SSI or state cash assistance, because even though I am very truly living in poverty, I “make” too much money now.
JN: No wonder the GOP hates poor people, sucking the country dry with these outrageously exorbitant handouts. Get a job, you fucking slobs. (lyric from video below)
JN: You can work and still get Disability benefits, but it is very limited, and at this point I don’t know the details. I’ve heard that it is up to half of your payment. I will find out more about this in the coming days. I hope to get a work-from-home part-time situation. Making more money means your food help is reduced, which in theory makes sense. With my food assistance being so stupidly low, losing it isn’t going to be an impact. I was once in the situation of working and still getting food assistance, and then when I got a small raise and promotion I lost the food assistance, which would have been ok, except that amount I received in assistance was more than what I got with the raise, so very literally, getting a raise made me poorer. Yay system.
JN: I talked to someone at Social Security yesterday, and he gave me some tentative information. Since I had just been approved there really wasn’t any definitive information in the system yet.
GN: The guy at Social Security estimated that my payments began in March, because they ruled that my disability began in September 2018 and for some reason there is a five month waiting period. A payment would soon be made for March, and right on its heels would be April’s payment. Then my normal payment would be made in May. Whew, that gives me a bit of breathing room to move and find out more info.
JN: Since I was getting unemployment through March, I might owe Vermont some partial refund on my March unemployment payments due to the overlap (above) with disability payments. Sheez. Oy. Sigh.
BN: However, everything I see online today is that I will not get March or April payments, but my first payment in May. This really screws things up. Really. Badly. That $1800 makes one helluva difference. Without it, my anxiety levels just soared. Homelessness becomes a more likely scenario. I really, really hope the guy was right, that there will be March and April payments, and it is just the weird way things are reported online.
GN: I qualify as medically frail (see also: BN, above, as per decrepit), and so I don’t have to do the slave labor part to continue to get Medicaid.
BN: That New Hampshire, and few other dipshit states, are now requiring slave labor to get medical coverage. I really hope that this gets thrown out in the judicial system. Several states are already being challenged in the courts.
JN: The waiting around for months (actually years) of not knowing what was going on with my life financially, and residentially by extension, was killing me. It is part of the situational depression I have (not to be confused with the inherent clinical depression).
GN: Even with all of the bad news and harsh reality of this recent information, at least I now have cold, hard facts to point to and deal with. With everything up in the air, I couldn’t apply for things. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t plan and plot. Now I can. It isn’t pretty, but at least it is known.
JN: I will turn 61 in July. At 62 there are more options open to me, most notably access to my ex-husband’s Social Security benefits.
GN: My ex’s benefits, if my rough calculations are correct, will give me an extra $10K per year. The guy at the Social Security office started waxing bureaucratically about this, and was throwing out all sorts of percentages, and my eyes glazed over, but the gist was: Call us when you turn 62. Even with an extra $10K per year I will not be rolling in cash, but yeesh, there will be a tad more breathing space.
JN: My next big challenge is to make it through one year of what looks like it’ll be total poverty and possible homeless hell.
GN: With the poverty and stupidly low levels of food assistance available, I am now defacto on a diet. I need to lose weight. Thanks to the kind generosity of the government, they will be taking care of that for me, by giving me all the food $16/month will provide! Yay! Healthy!
There’s probably more news, but honestly, I’m a zombie right now. I have to at least minimally process all of this so that I can function. Yesterday I gave myself two days to deal with it (and by dealing with it I mean staring numbly and streaming videos). When I woke up this morning I thought I might be semi-functional today. With the new news, nope, I don’t think so. Tomorrow, tomorrow …
PS: I was brought up with the idea that talking about money and income and expenses was something One Did Not Do. The reason I’m being very explicit here is that I think people need to read about the reality. There is so much ignorance around these things, so much hate, so much bullying, or on the other hand, the thoughts that there are truly safety nets out there that will prevent the absolute horrible from happening, and that, sadly, is incorrect, too. Don’t think this could happen to you? Twenty years ago I was living a very comfortable life, shopping at Neiman-Marcus, with a six-figure income and red-carpet health care. Just sayin’.