A Poor Man Shames Us All

I took the title of this blog from an African proverb. It refers to the fact that in kin groups, and in societies where generalized reciprocity is the economic system, you don’t hang people out to dry. And if you don’t look after your poorer brother or sister–especially if you have plenty–then it is you that should be ashamed, not them. Unfortunately, in this country, we live in a market economy where money is the final determiner of a person’s worth.

My problem with our system is that it is broken. And if you are poor, you should expect to be treated as less than human. I have been conducting a bit of an experiment lately. It is not by choice, but by fate that I find myself one of the poor. As a student with no income (I’m also disabled), I am trying to support myself and my autistic son. Believe me, it hasn’t been easy.

Today, I’ll talk about Social Security Disability. I have been trying to get approved for SSDI since September of 2008. I went on disability from work in April of 2008, and I was lucky enough to have short and long-term disability insurance from my job; but it only lasted for two years. Of course, I thought that SSDI would come through before my disability insurance ended. Not so! I am still fighting to get SSDI. It amazes me that a private disability company, my doctors, and my employer all consider me disabled, but the U.S. government can make its own rules in order to deny me, a taxpayer, help when I need it. If they wait long enough, I suppose, I’ll be dead.

Here’s the process that some of you are probably very familiar with. First, I applied. Then, as per Social Security’s modus operandi, I was denied. I appealed through their system and was denied again. Eventually, I had to get a lawyer to help me fight for my benefits (less money for me if I ever do get approved). The case is now at the review board, and I am told that if they decide to have the case looked at again it will go back to a judge. I am also told this process can take up to a year because of the system back up in cases. Does anyone else out there find this to be ridiculous? In the meantime, I have no more income, no health insurance to get doctors to help support my disability, or my case for SSDI. Luckily, I have a computer.

I will be talking about my journey to find support in this blog. So far, I have gotten Food Stamps. I’ll talk about that next week. I hope some of you will comment on the journey that you are on to help support your families in these difficult times. Maybe we can find a way to help each other.

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