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My Love/Hate Relationship With Public Assistance

Updated on June 10, 2012

A little over six months ago I found myself unemployed. Suddenly I had no income, not a ton of money in the bank, less than a month before my health insurance shut off, and no immediate job prospects. I went down to the Department of Social Services to ask for help. And I did get it. Eventually. The experience left me extremely grateful and extremely bitter at the same time. If I had the chance, this is what I would like to say to DSS.

THANK YOU
Thank you for being there for me in my time of need. Your food stamps put food on my table. They also would have put candy bars in my hands and 16 oz. sodas in my cup holder, but they did not. If I did not have a spare dollar of my own to buy them, then I went without. Thanks for offereing, but I am one of those rare people that does not consider candy and soda food. Maybe some day you can explain to me why you do?

Your Medicaid put me in my doctors’ offices and my prescriptions in my hands. While I hate taking those pills, I hate myself more when I am not taking them. You might have made me and the docs jump through a few hoops, but in the end you got me what I needed. Thank you for teaming up with private insurance. It meant I could keep seeing the same doctors I have spent years building relationships with.

I might not have known where my next paycheck was coming from, but I never had to worry about my next meal, appointment, or refill. And for that I want to thank you.

HOW DARE YOU
How dare you take so long to get my insurance started. Forty-five days. Plus another two weeks to approve my prescriptions. That is two months. That might not be so bad for a healthy person, but for me that was torture. Don’t you realize my prescription is only good for 30 days? They don’t allow the 90 day mail orders on the “fun” stuff. And no generics. No sir. Those puppies are $7 a pop! Now times that by two, for 30 days.

Discount programs? Sure. They barely make a dent . Contact the company? Sure. I got the forms. By the time I get that finished I will have my approval. And what help do you offer until the paperwork goes through? None. Oh, wait. I did get some advice: Maybe your doctor has some samples. Gee. Thanks.

I felt like a junkie calling from doc to doc looking for a handout. Thank goodness my primary could supply me with a month’s worth of one. The other? Well you can just check my credit card statement. Would you mind reimbursing me for that? No? Gee. Thank you.

How dare you make me cash out my IRA before you would even give me the benefits so necessary for my survival. I worked hard to put that money aside so when my working days are done I can support myself without coming to you for handouts. And what do you do? You take it away. Now, not only am I poor today, but you have just set me up to be poor in the future. Way to go.

It’s a good thing my car is practically a clunker, or you would have made me cash that in too. How dare you even consider it! How exactly do you expect a girl in the suburbs to interview for jobs, and then upon the miracle of getting one, be able to get to and from that job with no car?

I suppose I could walk to the bus stop. It’s only a mile or so. Who doesn’t love a 20 minute walk before and after work each day? Oh wait. I forgot to add the walk from the stop to work and back. That shouldn’t be bad. Just about everyone in the suburbs is right on a bus line these days. No? What’s another mile? That would have been some great exercise.

But I have a clunker. Selling that hunk of junk wouldn’t do much to delay me knocking on your door asking for handouts. That seems to be what you are doing. So you let me keep it. It’s a good thing for me that I didn’t buy a new car last year. Instead, I kept the clunker with no payment. Tried to keep the bills low so I could put a little something away for the future. And look where that got me. At least when I’m 75, broke, and living off what you decide to give me, I can avoid rent by living in my car. Thanks again.

Lucky for me things are looking up. I have a temp job with some great people who are even helping me to get something permanent. They got my back. They aren’t going to wait until I am unemployed and broke again before helping me out. And I have this great writing thing going on. Full of tons more supportive people. Who knows? With a lot of work maybe I will be working at home in my PJ’s well into my 90’s and I won’t need that retirement money after all.

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    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      crazy isn't it.... i calle dlegal aid to help. and they said i have to wait to be denied first. then they will advise me and help me find a lawyer.... the whol ething is just totally messed up!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Are you serious? They actually tell you to get a lawyer?! That is just insane!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      TT - Totally! I am still bitter about cashing out my savings. I of course took a huge fit for cashin gout early and another fee. They should make you open up a retirement account when you go on welfare! I have just started the application process to go on disability. They deny about 60% off the bat as a blanket rule. They even tell u plan on being denied and getting a lawyer. ugh!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      It would be one thing if they actually worked with the folks that wanted to better themselves, huh?

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      iamaudraleigh - Thank you for the support! It is a sobering experience. I like my temp job. I am working on some very important projects for the department of health. They like me and I am happy to help them out. BUT I am having health problems and my doctor wants me to cut down to part time. I haven't told my boss. I might be back dealing with the system yet again. We will see. I am hoping for the best.

      Thansk for the vote up. Good luck to you!

    • profile image

      iamaudraleigh 5 years ago

      I am glad you are able to have a great tep job that has your back!

      I am applying for SSD while working pt. It is a long ordeal, huh?

      I totally voted your experience up! Good luck to you sweetie :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      DanaTeresa, I am so sorry to hear this, and will be in prayer for you. God bless you. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Faith Reaper - Thank you so much for the kind words. My health has recently taken a downturn and it is making it diffucult to work. Not what I need right now! I will be discussing it with my doctor this week.

      I hope all of those that have their health know just how lucky they are! Thank you again.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      God bless you, Dana Teresa, for writing this. I couldn't imagine going without insurance for that long. I am glad you have something at this time, and will pray that the floodgates of Heaven are poured out on you. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Heather - I am SO sorry to hear about that. Being in the middle or in lombo has got to be the worst place to be. I wish someone would do something about that already! It is as if you are better off being dirt poor or rich. But forget about being in between!

      Whe I was in my 2 month limbo I found out that I had to wait for the private company to kick in before they would cover my antacid (a medicine I need to keep my reflux from damaging my esophagus), but medicaid would fully cover another brand that I had been on before. So I called my doc to have them please change me to the one that was covered (nexium): AND HE SAID NO! I had to pay for the over the counter version (prevacid) for over a month. What a jerk!

      Good for you for sticking your ground when you needed to! You seem like one strong chick. I admire that. I hope the best for you.

    • Heather Says profile image

      Heather Rode 5 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

      Ridiculous! We've discussed previously that we have been down similar roads, but your hub reminded me of one other annoying issue I had. About 5 days after I was married I wound up back in the hospital for another 7-day stay. I had lost my insurance from my previous employer when I was let go and was waiting for my husband to add me to his. His benefits dept at work said I could be added at the time of a life-changing event (like our marriage) and it would become effective the day of the event (the day of our marriage). Come to find out this wasn't true because there was a short waiting period between the time of the life-changing event and when I was lawfully able to be added. Of course the double-digit-multi-thousand dollar hospital bill happened during that waiting gap. I didn't qualify for any govt financial assistance because I had just gotten married a few days before. I would have qualified if I was still single, but the state said my husband made enough money to support both of us and pay my bill (which was untrue and unrealistic). They were ready to discharge me and continue medicine therapy at home when I decided to ask how much the medicine would be from the pharmacy. When I found out that the necessary medicine was a few hundred dollars for a week supply, I simply said I'm not going anywhere until I'm better then, and settled back into my hospital bed.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Hyphenbird - Don't I know it! I am on fairly high doese of 2 antidepressants. You can't just stop those things. I lowered my doses to stretch out what I could afford and I fell apart. Now how do they expect somone to get a job in the middle of a mental breakdown?!... Medicaid kicked in almost immediately for doc visits and other meds. But they did not cover the psych meds. I had to wait for them to set up the other insurance company. What really irks me is that the company would not reimburse me for what I spent waiting for them and that medicaid wouldn't suck it up and foot the bill.... So glad you had better luck than I did. I am hoping it is only going to get better from here.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Someone could die in two months without medication! After I lost my job, I was on unemployment for a while. When that ended, I applied for assistance. Most everyone was very nice to me and it only took about 2 weeks. But as you said, one must not have any savings or anything worthwhile at all. It is very discouraging. I am happy that you have found a part time job now.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Cathleena - Thank you for reading. And for the follow! Yes. It was a bit of a nightmare. Hopefully one I won't ever have to repeat. See you around the hubs!

    • Cathleena Beams profile image

      Cathleena Beams 5 years ago from Lascassas, Tennessee

      Sounds like you are a go-get-er and didn't stay unemployed for very long. I can appreciate how bad it would be to have to wait a month or two for insurance to kick in so that I could afford to get my medications.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
      Author

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      cat - Thank you for your support and ecouragement. It is very sobering to be suddenly unemployed. I had no idea that I would be better off dirt poor than lower class!

      One good thing I can say about all of this is that I stumbled upon hubpages while job hunting. And what a great world it has opened up for me full of great folks like you.

      See you around the hubs!

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Two months without insurance is a nightmare and I'm so sorry you had to go through that! :^( Keep your chin up -- you never know what could happen or what contacts you could make. (I wish there was a "grim" button!)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Yes I was shocked when I went to apply for help and they told me that all of my assest (IRA, car, house) had to be below $2,000. Are you kidding me? It is no wonder people have such a hard time getting off assistnace, they are pennyless!

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 5 years ago

      Wow, this is great. I had no idea that the IRA could stoop that low to make you cash-out some of modern day necessities (such as your car). I am happy to hear that things are looking up for you! Just keep on pressing forward and something good will happen!