Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Things I never knew...

My life has been pretty insular.  I can be a glass half empty girl but generally, I view my world through rose colored glasses (albeit a few smudges here and there).  I have good things in my life:  my family, friends, a good job, my home, Luther.

We took a trip to the social security administration office yesterday.  What a kick in the head.  It was like being in an alternate universe but I realized this IS real.

I didn't know that drug-users or alcoholics can get social security disability.  Sure, I get that it's a serious addiction.  I don't imagine there are many addicts hanging out on a beach drinking a cocktail living off social security.

I bring this up because I could overhear virtually everything around us.

Let me back up a little.  The office opens at 9.  At 8:55, a line of 10 -15 people huddled outside.  The door opens, everyone moves in.  There was a security guard / host sitting behind a desk.  Part comedian, part greeter, he directed the line and told jokes about the weather.  You take a number, sit with the masses and wait.  I remember thinking they needed some music.  There's a poster with George Takei (Sulu from Star Trek) and Patty Duke telling you to boldly go to the SSA website.

There was a blind man waiting.  A woman in full snowmobile gear doing stretches.  A young, well dressed woman with an older scruffy vet; they made an odd couple.   A dad with his disabled son.  An asian english speaking daughter with her non-english speaking parents.

You wait until they call your number and you go in to another room with a row of... booths?  You sit at this window like booth.  The person helping you sits on the other side.  There are five of these booths on each side of the room.  So you're sitting right next to someone else who's pleading their case for why they should get social security.

Back to the drug-addict receiving benefits observation... A mom, in her mid-sixties, using a walker, was at the booth behind me.  She was trying to get her 42 year old daughter's benefits turned over to her.  Her daughter had been in and out of rehab for years but every time she got her SS check, she'd "run" (mom's words).  The daughter would take the money and relapse.  It broke my heart for this mom.

Another group of people sat next to us.  An older widowed mom, her adult disabled son and another woman who seemed to be their advocate.  Apparently, social security had been overpaying them for years and was now asking for repayment.  The mom was taking care of the son, living on a fixed income.  Her husband, I think, had recently died.  Living on a fixed income, dealing with the death of her husband and the fact she was her son's caretaker and now being asked to repay what was an administrative mistake.  All I could think about was the government waste we hear about and who was standing up for this woman??

I thought about our situation.  That Luther is dying.  His social security application will be fast tracked because of his illness.  It won't take the usual six months to be approved.  I thought about the people around us, who weren't terminally ill.  I don't know... you can't compare, I guess.  But Luther and I lead a good life. I'm not a parent chasing down an addict daughter I can't find.  I'm not a mom taking care of a disabled child. I can't even imagine.

It's so interesting that each time I feel despair or sadness there's something around the corner to kick me in the ass and keep me moving forward.  

No comments:

Post a Comment