Saturday, July 7, 2012
What It's Like to be on Welfare
It's not that we didn't appreciate the help. The aide came in days I did my bathroom routine. It's a lot of transferring, bending over and getting wet for the caregiver. It can also get messy sometimes. Dana really did give it a go, but it was an extra two hours of hard work on top of the rest of her day. The whole bathroom routine itself wasn't good for our intimacy. It really was too much. We both bit the bullet, but there were many frustrating mornings we were both emotionally spent after the ordeal.
I was in college when I first signed up for assistance. I received a check for supplemental security income (SSI), food stamps, and home health care. Signing up for assistance was humiliating. It went against my grain. But friends and family talked me into it. they said, "That's what it's for." Over the years I've been on and off of government assistance. When I moved to Texas, I applied for social security disability and have been on disability since. Most recently, we applied for Medicaid benefits for home health care. It has been a source of relief and frustration. Being disabled puts us at a disadvantage from the start.
That's why I really do appreciate a safety net being there.
Between the regular visits and our respite hours that we use when Dana's out of town reliable home health care has been a blessing. Dana has written about the difficult transition to having somebody else in our -- her-- house before. And I still think she does the job better than anybody else. But it has been a great relief to have the help.
There is a drawback to welfare programs: dependence. Just being disabled doesn't qualify us. There are income requirements too. Unfortunately those are often ambiguous and left up to somebody in some office determining whether we are qualified. My website work wasn't bringing in a lot of income, so I wasn't in danger of losing the benefit. My new career brings higher income potential. It puts us at a crossroads. We will have to pay about $60 for health care. That's a hit no matter what you're earning. Everyone on welfare programs faces this threshold. The risk of losing the benefit and security of reliable services holds us back from taking the big leap. It breeds contentment and contempt. Recipients grow content with the safe place. Others --and even conscientious recipients-- build contempt as they sit on the dole.
We have both struggled with this part of disability life. Admitting I need help. Admitting we need help. Actually accepting the help. Paying for the help. Qualifying for assistance to pay for the help. Transitioning back to self-sufficiency. The whole thing is a whirlwind. It's a hidden burden of disability.
Labels: Love Hurts