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The Truth About Being on Government Assistance

Updated on December 16, 2013

The Smile of a Child With Autism

My son is nine years old.  He has autism, and as extreme as this smile over an episode of Blue's Clues is, his reactions to too much outward stimuli can be just as extreme.  Day cares are a problem because of this.
My son is nine years old. He has autism, and as extreme as this smile over an episode of Blue's Clues is, his reactions to too much outward stimuli can be just as extreme. Day cares are a problem because of this.

My daughter with the severe ADHD

My daughter has severe ADHD, and can be too much of a handful for any care taker.  This also makes daycare a far reaching goal.
My daughter has severe ADHD, and can be too much of a handful for any care taker. This also makes daycare a far reaching goal.

Being on Assistance Does Not Mean I am Lazy

I have been on assistance on and off since becoming a mother. The town I live in has little to offer in the areas of year round employment, and most people have several jobs just to support themselves, and it is nearly impossible to do if you have children that are too high strung for day care.

While I do not carry pride about the fact that I am on Medicaid and Food Stamps and my son (who has autism) is on Disability, it does not mean I am lazy. For me, personally, making ends meet is troubling at best. I would be up the creek without a paddle if it were not for the fact that my son receives that small amount of money every month. I share a four bedroom home, in a housing project, with another family who also has two children, meaning it is cramped at best.

For a while when I first moved in with this family, I was able to work, and worked full time for quite a while before it became clear that having them sit for me was going to be a problem, and putting my children into daycare was also not feasible, as my son is too easily over stimulated and can have fits, and my daughter is too high strung and has caused too many problems in the day cares I have put her in in the past that have caused me to have to quit a job because nobody would watch them.

The total household bills in my house add up to roughly $1200 on a good month, my half, of course, being $600, which leaves me $110 for any extras such as food and clothing. Once a month I make trip to the local clothes closet to make sure we have everything we need, used. Sometimes we get some nice looking clothes, well, my kids do. I often go with what fits, since it's hard to find figure flattering second hand clothes. I've been plus sized my whole life, and anyone who has looked for nice clothes at a clothes closet that are above a size 10, will understand what I mean.

Now, with the understanding that my bills do not, in any way, include food and clothing, who do you know that can feed and clothe a family of three with $110 a month? So, that leaves me with having to get food assistance and clothing assistance.

To make ends meet, I try to sell used books on Amazon, write, and enter amateur photography contests, which I have yet to win. I've sold a total of five books, and I've yet to be a paid writer. Sometimes, things can be difficult at best in the financial department.

Despite not having a paying job, I work very hard. I am doing more than full time in school so that I can get a job that pays more and I can get my son off of the disability, I have ideas for so many things, none of which I actually have funding for.

What my car looks like from behind

Sadly, my car does this every single time I start it.
Sadly, my car does this every single time I start it. | Source

Just Because I Receive Assistance Does Not Mean I Drive a Fancy Car

Despite the blanket assumption that equates being on assistance to sitting on our butts eating bon bons and wearing name brand clothes and spending our assistance money on brand new cars and designer clothes and accessories, I have yet to find myself doing any of these things.

I certainly do not have a fancy car, I drive a very old, and falling apart, 1988 Cadillac, which is missing it's vinyl roof, has torn up seats, is dinged up in some way or another on every side, with faded paint and poor gas mileage on a good day.

Seriously, people, this car is a falling apart around me whenever I drive it.

While I appreciate it, since my father lets me drive it, and there would be no other way for me to get my kids and myself to necessary doctor appointments every month without it, sometimes it is more work than the car is worth.

I am far from driving a fancy car, the closest I came was when I attempted to buy a 2000 model car a few years ago that wasn't very trustworthy. Which I paid for at tax time.

If it weren't for my father, I wouldn't have a car to use at all, much less a nice one.

Designer Clothes? Ha!

Designer clothes are a joke when you're truly using needed assistance. If you have them and you actually rely on assistance, then getting designer clothes is mainly a stroke of luck at the local thrift store or clothes closet.

I have had all of two actual designer pieces in my house, both were second hand, neither of them clothed my children any better than non name brand clothes that I usually get, and, every once in a while, buy.


Blanket Stereotypes Based on the Actions of the Few Are Wrong

Nobody likes being stereotyped because of something in their life that is, for the most part, out of their control, and this includes being on assistance. It's just like saying that all black people are criminals just because there are some in prison, but there are all races in prisons across the nation, and the world, you look rude at best when you make these automatic assumptions that everyone of a particular group of people are the same because some of them do one particular thing.

Being in need of help should not be treated like we're all lazy, horrible people who are milking the system because there are some that do. Yes, I've seen one person (out of the other people I know who are also on assistance) actually do that, and it sickened me. I do not sit around eating bon bons, I try every way imaginable to make enough money to get off of assistance, so far nothing has worked for very long.

I do not think it is right that people who do not need assistance are getting help while there are others, still, who are struggling to get by who are injured in such a way that working every day is one painful nightmare after the next, but do not confuse me with the people who are on assistance who can find work but turn down jobs. I feel like they are the ones milking the system for all it is worth, while I am sitting here doing what I can to make money by selling used books and spending hours wracking my brain trying to find something worthwhile to write about.

It's no different to be a bigot when it's about someone who is less fortunate than you are than to be a bigot because someone's skin is a different color, or because someone loves someone else differently than you do.

I hate stereotyping, it is absolutely, hands down, the most ridiculous thing I've seen done on a massive scale in human society. Why does it have to be some stereotyped group or another? Why can't it just be that we are human, we come from different backgrounds, we help each other without resentment, and we celebrate our differences?

Honestly, it is not right to put down another group of people because of the faults of a few, and that includes making assumptions about a person based on one facet of their life, such as someone getting assistance being stereotyped as some lazy bum mooching off of the system while everyone else works to support them. Sometimes you just need help, and there is only one place to get it.

So, do I get defensive when I see something about people mooching off of assistance, or see something about taking it away, yes I do, because there would be no food in my children's bellies and no clothes on their backs without it.

Do I spend thousands every year on nonsense items that we don't need? Absolutely not, so do not treat me like I do just because I pull out a food stamp card to pay for my groceries. I appreciate those groceries far more than you do yours, if you have never been on assistance, and I would appreciate it far more without the automatic assumption that I am lazy for trying to make ends meet.

Before you ask


I am big because of genetics and have been bigger since I hit twelve, not all of us swim in the skinny end of the gene pool, so do not assume I am big purely because I eat big.


My children's father has been well into the definition of a dead beat dad by ducking paying child support (since I cannot give- and he refuses to give- child support enforcement his address they cannot deliver the paperwork, therefore they cannot open an official case and file charges) for five years. If you know Terrance Osborne, and his address (the last that I heard where he was- he was in Poughkeepsie, New York), please feel free to let me know. He's a little late on the financial side of raising his children, since he is not in the actual parenting side of it.


Stop assuming that I am doing nothing. I am doing everything I can to take care of my children, and there is no shame in doing it the only way that I can at the moment. I do not want to be on assistance for the rest of my life, but for right now, yes, I am using state funded assistance to take care of business because there is no other way obviously available right now. It does not mean that I am not trying to start my own businesses and get on my feet.

I want to know

Do you stereotype people negatively because they are on assistance of some sort?

See results


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    • Green Art profile image

      Green Art 4 years ago

      I commend you for telling it like it is. You and your children are just trying to survive and make a life for yourselves. If the people who are judging you lived on the income you did they would be in for a shock. Tell them to trade places with you and see if you get any takers. My guess is no. Until they walk a mile in your shoes they have nothing to say about your life!

      My Mom raised five children all under the age of ten after my Dad died in an accident at work. She struggled but did a great job making sure we were all clothed and fed. She was a very creative cook trying to stretch our food. We shopped the church resales for our clothing.

      You are doing a GREAT JOB trying to make a life for you and your children!! Ignore those who don't understand what your up against and keep utilizing the resources available to help you and your children. Continue to believe in a better life!