Tag Archives: Social Security

Beginning a Multi-Generational Family

Becoming a Multi-Generational Family when Social Security for the Disabled and Section 8 Housing are involved can be fraught with difficulties.  When my daughter and son-in-law asked me to move to California and be the nanny to their first born, I knew it was the next chapter in my life.  I’m turning 61, a new decade. No hesitation. As I look at the host of hurdles which need to be jumped over, I still know it is the right thing but there is plenty of work to do to make it work.

To begin with, I am a quiet person who has lived the twelve years since my daughter graduated high school alone.  To move into their home with a brand new baby and two dogs is change enough.  Most of the time I don’t have any noise in my apartment save the sometimes relentless talking my cat does.  I just moved, literally a month ago, just purchased furniture needed to make a substantial downsizing work, started back to walking my cat daily, and reduced the outer noise volume to nothing.

I live on Social Security Disability for Working Employees and part-time work as a CNA. This change would mean negotiating the tricky minefield of employee payment within the family unit.  I will also need to figure out a way to keep my Section 8, whether it means renting a room or studio. Should I pod, share a house with other women my age?

I currently live in Connecticut.  What are the best options in this new living arrangement?  Does giving myself options mean I am leaving the door open?  If so, my cat might escape.  And speaking of my cat – all those adjustments I am to make, he is making.  Can a mature, one person pet adjust to so much new?

Moving across country wouldn’t be an issue.  I’ve done it several times before.  But this time someone else needs to drive my car and possessions across the great divide.  And all that downsizing I just did will making will be nothing compared to what will need doing to make this move.  This last move I gave away what I didn’t need.  This time I will need to sell or donate belongings that mean something to me as well as divest myself of things like linens, cookware, dishes, Christmas treasures, a brand new cat tower I put together myself, etc.  Things I thought of as essential.  God has been teaching me things don’t matter, people do.

Boundaries . . . a veritable minefield all its own.  Sharing space with others means listening and comprehending what matters to them.  Being reflective.  Bending and being fluid.  For all parties involved, except the baby.  My family has produced strong-headed people.  My daughter wants to take care of me while I take care of her baby.  How does that work?  I’ve become pretty independent over the years.  I raised both she and her brother, who I will also be closer to, another source for boundary issues.  I have both physical and mental issues now  but none that impair my ability to care for myself.

Values. . . such core aspects of a personality.  I already know my children have different ones than I do.  Especially over religious matters.  Making them merge will be interesting.

Grandparenting, how wonderful, delightful, daunting.  Am I up for the rigors of caring for a child 8-10 hours daily?  What will I do to carve time out for myself?  To keep my independence and soul intact may take a bit of processing.  But this is what I will do. . . with joy and thanksgiving.  The rest is trivia.

Working Within the System

Why is it so hard to fight for our rights? As Disabled persons we have a greater need for services than many but either by our own inabilities to disseminate the proper information to the proper authorities, coupled with, the inflexibility of a system that has fewer and fewer resources and people who are not properly trained to handle our population . . . nor necessarily have the attitudes and empathy to know that, for most of us, our mistakes are not our fault.

I am on disability and lost my benefits January 1st, not because I was trying to beat the system but because I couldn’t understand and follow the system. There is a chance my benefits will be reinstated, of which I will be eternally grateful if they are but there is still a huge, dark cloud floating above me. I need to appeal to nullify the 16+K they have been sitting there watching for several years as it accrued without my understanding of the system and my repeated thinking “Surely this will be okay, am I doing anything wrong?, if they haven’t contacted me, I must be okay.”

It took every bit of my courage and preliminary preparations to handle the 2+ hour interview but I did it. As I was sitting there, my legs were cramping continually and I had to stand as I was talking to her, my neck and back were in pain, and my skin was itching all over. This as I was telling her the diseases and conditions which brought me there in the first place.

I still have to go to an Accountant for the first time, at a cost I can ill afford. And the Appeals process still needs review. Finally, I am locked into a set amount of money. If I go over it by even a dollar, I lose my benefits . . . for good. So, this case I am working on, I can’t earn more than that amount and I often have to work extra hours so those hours will be for free.

There was a time, years ago, when my mind wasn’t as impacted as it is now, that I had to have the school districts I was working in to pay me $2 less an hour than was contracted just so I could work the hours needed.

Yes, I am Disabled, but I need to be a productive, contributing member of society. I need to be of service. I need to help people, and I know there is a purpose to my work that God has in mind for me. So I struggle through the morass of the system, hoping they see I am worthy. And pray – a lot.

Social Security Disability – Living in the System, or not

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)