Wednesday, December 21, 2011

“But I Don't Understand, How Can This Happen?”

Many of you know what's going on. For those who don't, rather than repeat it, I'll send you here or you can check my main Twitter stream!/thecrystalcrow Thanks to everyone with suggestions, ideas, and donations!

Since I've been explaining what I have been going through over and over to people who respond with “How can this happen in America?”, I thought I'd take you along on this odyssey with me and tell you all about how yes, this can, and frequently does, happen in America.

The first thing you have to know is about SSI/Disability. According to my attorney, hardly anyone receives it on the first try, and that going to court is when it will be decided, especially with ambiguous cases like mine. If you lose in court the first time, it can still take years for another appeal. I have already lost an extra year in this process, due to the fact that the person handling my case in my attorney's office did not send the required medical release forms.

Secondly, I have been jobless due to medical reasons, backed up by my doctor, since July 27th, 2009. So basically, for 2.5 years, I have had no income. This required me to declare bankruptcy, lose my home, and lose my retirement fund. I haven't been able to buy a cup of coffee or a spare pair of underwear on my own since I ran out of money over a year ago. Thankfully, my roommate has been kind enough to let me stay with her through this time, but as she has lost her job, and has just lost her unemployment benefits, this is no longer an option. We're both out of here at the end of January when she can no longer pay the rent. And no, staying and being evicted for non-payment is not an option, as my Disability attorney is ALSO my landlady.

Thirdly, when you are in the application process for SSI/Disability, there are no social programs that will help you. Anything federally funded requires you to already be receiving disability, have a specific disease or injury (such as AIDS or head injuries), or be a veteran. I qualify for none of these. I have spent literally months (since roomie lost her job in July) searching the net and making calls (being crippled prevents me from going to the offices of such programs, as I cannot sit, stand or walk without great pain) to no avail. I qualify for nothing besides $200 per month in Food Stamps. No HUD, no assistance with utilities, no assistance with medication, no assisted living, NOTHING.

What do people do? How are the disabled supposed to bridge the gap between the start of the Disability application process and actually obtaining Disability? According to my attorney, the Federal Government hopes that applicants will give up, which weeds out the people who are not truly disabled and are looking for a handout.

Excuse me, but WTF?

In my personal experience, doctors are UNWILLING to advocate that you apply for Disability. So where are these people that are looking for a handout? And where are the doctors that are going to court to support them?

I haven't the faintest idea.

But I know where many of those disabled people are – the ones that fall through the cracks. I've talked to many of them. They sit on street corners, holding cardboard signs from morning 'til night, to disappear into tarp and tent shelters after sunset. They'll willingly tell you their stories, especially if you give them a bite to eat, or a blanket. Most are visibly crippled, some mentally affected. The familiar refrain from about 60% of the homeless that I have interacted with in the last 8 years is, “I couldn't get disability.”

About those social programs: if you do happen to see someone, for example, at the Social Services Office....oh, exactly like the one on Hull Street in Richmond, you will be told that there is no assistance, but will be given a long list if charities to call. (What if you have no phone? What then?) Upon calling each of these approximately two dozen charities, you will be told by EACH ONE that the programs no longer exist, are no longer funded, or can not help you since YOU DON'T QUALIFY because you don't receive Disability...sigh.

Any questions? Let me know. I'm going to be blogging about my last month with a roof over my head, so if you have questions, I'll certainly do my best to answer.

And if you have any ideas about places I can get help, please make sure the programs are funded, first!

PS: Thank you so much for the donations! Any little bit keeps the wolf from the door a little longer. If anyone out there has a long term solution, please let me know! It's unrealistic, but what I need is a free-to-really-cheap place to stay until I go to court (Ideally, free. Remember, I have no income). I have to stay in the Richmond, VA area due to doctor continuity for Disability. The bad part is, there is no court date yet, and this has gone on for 2.5 years so far.

I also need people help! I'm bedridden, and need to move my furniture out to consignment stores, as it hasn't sold on Craigslist, so if you live in the RVA area, have a truck and/or can pick stuff up, please let me know! I also need help selling everything else that isn't tied down, which is a bunch of arts & crafts stuff, and jewelry-making supplies left over from my business.

Also, if you live in the area and like Art Deco furniture, come see me and let's make a deal!

Thanks so much for all of your support!

I'll let you know here what happens next...

Due to requests, I'm adding a donation button to these particular posts for folks that wish to donate. Thank you for all your help!

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