Today began with venturing yet again into an astonishingly bizarre environment. Akin to things I’ve touched on before, such as $5 Asian haircut joints on the edge of the badlands and transit rides with methadone treatment clients (affectionately also know as the “meth-camp”), this experience was at once even more mind numbing and oddly fascinating than those other ones put together.
Welcome to the house of endless rules that you don’t know unless you were born to them- or work there and wait out a retirement package that will surely exceed the wildest expectations of the clients you serve.
This was my second trip to the Department of Public Welfare Office. Armed with all my mailed notifications that confuse the most intelligent of citizens, I stopped in to have my fortune read by the seers. Not Tarot cards. Not palm reading. No- it seems that in addition to endless reams of paper they seem to enjoy gorging themselves on, they are very keen on a sort of numerology. It’s all about the numbers here. They all mean something and they have different meanings. The words that accompany them go in circles and seem to be deliberately vague, requiring an interpreter.
As a point in fact, when I first came here 2 months ago, the very first thing they told me was that “The Governor has reduced benefits. If you do not have a dependent in the household you are not eligible for any cash benefits. Do you understand this?”. Then I told them my name. This is directly tied to the BIG number. The fiscal funds one. And what follows it what some refer to as the trickle down effect. Except it is reversed.
So, how are MY numbers looking today? And what about that part time job I’ll be starting? How does it all fit together? The short answer is this: It doesn’t. Here’s what it looks like…
Basic Medical Assistance: They list a figure known as “Income limit to qualify”. What they don’t say on paper is that this figure is for SIX MONTHS. In my case, the number shown is $2,550.00. Do the math. That works out to $425.00 a month. OK. Thanks for clarifying that for me.
SNAP: ($200.00/ month benefit) Income limit to qualify for me comes in at $1,862.00. Take note of this… that figure is calculated as a ONE MONTH maximum, although it’s called out exactly the same way.
Good thing I stopped in- don’t you think?
Here is where it get really interesting. I explain to the nice lady with the grey hair and glasses that My work ability is very limited due to a condition I need to have the insurance for to be further investigated and that $425 a month constitutes living on the street. She routinely grabbed the familiar Form 1663 form, handed it to me, said to apply for SSI, and told me to bring it back once I see my primary care provider who will refer me to the cardiologist, adding that the insurance kicks in on the 15th of the month. OK. Thanks for clarifying that for me, too.
The Catch 22 to that scenario is that I can’t work to qualify. At all. The nice lady noted that with a blank stare. I added that I have accepted a bit of work on a contract basis doing phone work for the first time in my life before I go even more negative financially. Adding to that, I asked how 1099/contract work was viewed in regard to the above totals. I found out that all those numbers are based on the gross income. OK. What is actually left over after taking out City Business, State, Local, Federal and Social Security taxes? I’ll have to think about that a bit later. All this was a tad overwhelming in a short time span to ponder at the time. The lady on the other side of the desk asked me if I had any other questions. “No, thank you for your time and help…”
No insurance company outside of the Welfare sector will take me with this preexisting condition. That is pretty much a fact. Aside from that, I’m wondering if it’s worth it with all the numbers cancelling each other out. But that’s numbers for you. Equations always have to balance out.