How many of us live terrified about money? Not understanding it. Not knowing how to utilize it productively. Money is a vague anomaly, something that, for some, is easily quantifiable, for others a mind spinning process that brings little comfort, little stability.
I look at numbers and my head spins. That portion of my brain which controls numbers has permanently gone on vacation. Has always been basking in the suns of Antarctica. My father used to help me with math homework until “Modern Math” was established. He bought a book on the subject and I remember nights when both of us would be crying trying to figure it out.
When I was a Paraprofessional in the schools, kids in grades 4 and 5 quickly learned to go to someone else for help. If they needed to write, do geography, jump through hoops, learn history, read, they knew to search me out. Math? Computers they taught me. Why get things marked wrong when help had been asked for?
I have always found myself in trouble with my finances. This year I am facing problems way beyond my abilities. I was on Social Security Disability, very deservedly so. I was not one of those milking the system . . . I am someone who doesn’t understand the system. Never good in Math, Traumatic Brain Injury made it even worse.
I work as a caregiver/CNA. Some cases are paid out of pocket, some as an employee, others as an independent contractor. Trouble is, how do you keep course over a year, month by month, week by week, what is too much or not? How do you tell a client you can’t work for them anymore because you just discovered they are going to start paying by another format? How do you handle it when someone, in June, decided to pay out of pocket but in January, determined a 1099 would be more to their keeping? It isn’t a fair system. I know, I know, who said it had to be fair?
I don’t have the ability to work 40 hour weeks, if you can find a job that gives you that. Even 20 hours can, many times prove more than I am capable of. I am in a great deal of pain on a constant basis. I need the benefits offered to the disabled – the medical benefits. I don’t abuse the system. I don’t use Food Stamps or other benefits because I pay for them myself. I need Medical Benefits and to qualify for Social Security. I’ve never filed for unemployment benefits or welfare. If only Social Security helped you understand the process and then, if needed, provide the help necessary to comply with in the system. The system would be so much more organized and understandable then.
I contributed to the system for many years. To go from being a national Business Management Consultant in Human Resources and Management Development to someone on Social Security over the course of a working timespan is humbling. What many don’t understand is, the vast majority of the working disabled are trying the best they can. But they are in a system that penalizes you if you work even slightly over the set limit. Problem is, you don’t know in the beginning of the year what your earnings will be, or maybe in what form as in my case.
So now I am not on Social Security. I need to apply for re-establishment which can take 3 years if granted at all. To obtain it I need to work less or not at all. If I work not at all, not having Social Security, I can’t pay my bills or eat. My family is talking about taking me in to their homes. I’m 60 for God’s sake!! As much as I love them, I don’t want to live with them any more than they want me. This is the American culture where each generation provides for itself and lives separate from the others. It would be one thing if we did things the natural way and lived multi-generationally but we are not, and don’t have that thinking pattern. I have lived by myself for almost 20 years.
So tough choices all around. Happy New Year! (and I still don’t understand the system)