Today I had a telephone review of my SSI benefits, and while it went about as well as could be expected*, it has caused me an untold amount of anxiety. Between Wednesday, when they pre-called (out of nowhere) to tell me to be ready for this morning's call, and the actual call, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the hell could've gone wrong. Was I over my $2000 limit? ** Was there some mix-up with the new bank account (I'd changed to direct deposit, so maybe that was it)? Had my use of some other agency/program counteracted with my SSI benefits? There were so many ways this could have gone wrong, and I thought of almost all of them, I'm sure, in those two days.
While it turned out to be a routine review - something that seems to be happening to more and more of the government sponsored programs I belong to as the economy works on its imitation of a black hole - it's one of those things, one of those semi-degrading things - that winds up making me feel like an eternal loser. I usually don't worry about money - and I'm very lucky in that I don't: Living with my parents, contributing as I can, when I can is a situation that I am more than grateful for. I absolutely know that if it weren't for them, I would be homeless/dependent on the state (which can amount to practically the same thing). Back when we were living with Nana, and the PUS were tormenting our daily lives, I went so far as to sing up for state sponsored housing, because I knew that the situation we were in was poisoning all of us, and I wanted out. Of course, it turned out that the state's waiting list was between 2-3 years (I think), and none of the public housing had the accomodations I would need in order to be able to live there (regarding not just the physical space, but also things like chemicals and smells and things like that). My only other option was state sponsored medical/rehab/halfway houses: places for people with disabilities that require help with activities of daily living. There are a number of reasons why I hope never to have to take that option, but I don't forget that the only thing keeping me from having to use it is my parents' generosity.
And today's phone call was just a reminder of that: the rough estimate of our monthly household expenses (and the fact that I could not be specific when queried about such costs as gas or house insurance, like any other "grown-up" would know), divided by the number of people living here, and my entire SSI check comes out to be much less than my fair share of the expenses. That means even if I were to just turn over my check (and there go all of the 'extras' of my life like clothing and craft materials, take out or - as is the case this week - birthday presents for little girls), I would not even meet the amount of money I could reasonably be expected to contribute. And that is a hard thing to acknowledge, even if I already knew it.
So I've been feeling a little low about that, but trying not to, because I know it's not the end of the world, and I tend not to think that making money is the be all and end all of a person's life anyways, but it's just another example of feeling like a burden, only this time it's all there in black and white. It's been proven, like those geometry proofs we used to have to do. 'If'' x , then 'y'. Show all the properties that make it so. I knew there was a reason I hated math.
In other news, I am trying to get my writing mojo back, if only to be able to tell you all about my new insomniac friend, 'anxiety dreams'; how to plan a wedding shower for a wedding I wasn't sure was happening until a month ago (and it's now 77 days away); the story of 'Burny', my old/new computer that decided to smell like fried hair; and how a soon-to-be five year old gave me the finger three times in the course of one afternoon, all the while pretending that she wasn't. Doesn't that sound like fun?
*Side note: What is the first thing they tell you about your social security number? "Never give it out over the phone, or the internet, or even in person, unless you absolutely have to. It's not safe." What's the first question some random person claiming to be from the government will ask you when they call to talk about your SSI benefits? "Can you confirm your social security number, please?" Even though I had no idea why they were calling, or what this was about. Seriously, SSI people? I will also NOT confirm my mother's maiden name or my bank account number. Let's me in person, shall we?
** Side note the second: Did you guys (who aren't on SSI) know that there's a limit to the amount of funds you are allowed to accumulate if you are receiving benefits? It's $2000. Later on we can have a nice discussion about the institutionalization of poverty for individuals with disabilities, and how the system creates an environment that basically requires poverty by limiting the amount of personal wealth an individual receiving SSI can have, but for now let me just say, as a saver, that being constrained to the $2000 limit is quite difficult for me. There's no sense of security there, at all. There's nothing to 'fall back' on, and if my benefits were to disappear, or decline, or become delayed, the situation would become very dire, very quickly.
***I usually save them for the end.