It’s tough when the national budget doesn’t balance. I get that. But what what are citizens supposed to do when they have no hope of balancing their personal budgets because they are too sick or disabled to work?
We pay into Social Security so that it will be there when we need it. Then we become disabled and need it, and too many of us are denied it. I’m not even going to talk about the fact that the payment is too small to even pay a modest rent in many parts of this country. I’m just talking about how hard it is to get this so-called “safety net” when we need it. And yet certain politicians still suggest that we need to cut back on the program. So here’s my question for them:
Without social security, or with reduced payments, how are we supposed to pay for basic things like rent, food, and health care?*
I’ve heard one common answer many times: your church will take care of you. Um, no. What if you’re not Christian? What if you’re not religious? What if you just moved to a new community and don’t have a church community yet? What if there’s no church or other religious establishment nearby?
Now, let’s suppose none of those issues apply in your care. Let’s say your church and its members want to help, but they don’t have enough money. Are they expected to pay all of your bills for the rest of your life (or until you turn 65 and standard Social Security supposedly starts?) Could they really afford to pay the housing, food, and medical bills for all of its members in need of that financial help? So here’s another question for those politicians:
Are the only people “worthy” of living in this country those who are able to work, those who marry people who can work, those who inherit large amounts of money, and those who win the lottery?
I greatly resent having to prove that I’m too sick to work. But what I resent even more is going through this process while healthy people on tv suggest that the government needs to cut back on these payments. I’m sure that seems like a perfectly reasonable approach for all of these well-paid people who assume they will be able to work for as long as they want and so others should too. But that’s the tricky thing about disabling conditions: most of them are not predictable years in advance. Just because someone is working now, doesn’t mean they will be able to work 10 years, or even 10 months, from now. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t. And if they can’t? Will they change their mind about the policy? What if it doesn’t happen to them? What if it happens to a friend? Will they pay their friend’s bills, or will they say that it’s not their responsibility? Will they tell their friend to find a church to help out? Or will they realize how insensitive and callous it sounds to suggest that their friend shouldn’t have access to the government system they paid into that’s designed specifically to support people in this particular situation? This begs the question:
Should everyone be treated equally? Or do you suggest different treatment for already-wealthy individuals?
It’s easy to suggest that disabled people are lazy and choosing not to work. It’s always easy to use a stereotype to justify your own prejudice. It’s also easy to say that all Jews are cheap, all bisexuals are promiscuous, all black teenagers are in gangs, and all women are overly emotional. It’s easy, but that doesn’t make it true. These stereotypes might be true for some people, but they are not true for all people. Just as some people on SSDI are lazy and choosing not to work, but that is not true for everyone.
And that’s why, most of all, I resent being stereotyped as a justification for rich politicians looking to score political points and get even richer. That’s why, most of all, I have to ask:
How can you live with yourself?
*Yes, there is Medicare and Medicaid and The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare,) but those are not available to everyone and they do not cover all costs. I wish they did, but they don’t. I have great health insurance, one of the best plans available. Last month, in addition to my premium, I spent $600 on over-the-counter medications, copays, parking at medical offices, visits with my naturopath (who has been more helpful than the doctors who are covered by insurance,) and other things. Other months have included items such as orthodics that are necessary to me but are not covered by insurance. Of course, this does not include the so-called extras, like gas to get to appointments or paying for help with things I can’t do like cleaning and shoveling show.
I totally agree, and I struggle with this every day. I actually posted something similar on my blog last week. Everybody I know who’s on disability wants to be able to work, but we’re often portrayed as lazy moochers living in luxury. That’s about as far from the truth as I am from Pluto.
When politicians talk about financial hardship, they almost always talk about the difficulties of the middle class. I get that things can be hard for them too, but why do we get left out of the narrative? I’m one emergency away from being homeless. I can’t save money for emergencies because there’s not even enough for what I need every month, let alone any left over, no matter how frugal I am.
The people who most need help are the ones most marginalized, and it’s wrong. I get that the middle class is the bulk of politicians’ electorate, but we exist too. We vote too. I even work on political campaigns. But even then, the candidates rarely talk about people like me.
It must be tough to work on the campaigns and then still feel that your issues aren’t being addressed. I give you a lot of credit for getting involved, though. What do they say when you tell them about your situation? Do they try to help at all? Best of luck!
I’ve never actually gone into detail about my situation. I’ve noticed that people seem to think that if you’re smart and articulate, you can’t be trapped in crushing poverty.