Apart from the fact that this blog is called Amygdala, not Liberty Street and is written by a man named Gary Farber, not a woman named Kathy Kattenburg; this post from December 3 could be describing my life:
This is the 8376th post on this blog, which will mark its 6th Anniversary on December 30th.
I'd declare this whole month a Pledge Month, but it wouldn't be practical, so I'm calling it a week, with a likely option to extend it for a second week, before giving up in utter despair if my nightmare happens, and I only get a smattering of response during that time.
I hope you'll help me out during Gary Farber Pledge Drive Week. There's no particular reason you should, but I ask for your help, please, if you care to give it.
It's been almost a year since I wrote this on January 11, 2007.
I, in panic-stricken fashion, semi-coherently explained my situation of lifelong recurring clinical depression, as well as other health issues, and that I'd finally decided to apply for Social Security disability, having rightly or wrongly put off that option for decades.
I, with utter shame, loathing, guilt, self-hatred, and a feast of other negative self-directed emotions -- as is my wont -- asked for people's help, and an amazing number of people did help, in many ways, including the most important way to help, which was with hard cash. At the time, I said I was afraid I'd need to ask for help again within three months.
Now it's almost a year later, and I've just paid the December rent of $500 and the phone bill ($35), and I'm now down to a total of $241.00 in my bank account, and $22 in my pocket.
I explained originally that I expected the Social Security disability process to take this long, and that I'd need help again by now, and so I do. It's That Time I Warned You About. I'm asking for your aid again. I only hope people will again be generous. I pray, in my own secular way, that you will.
(The horrible fear that has loomed larger every day and night in my consciousness, and in the pit it creates in my stomach, in the past year is that you won't, in sufficient numbers, again. My fear is that one can't go back to the well again. That I'll wind up with only a few donations, and a few links, and just a bit of response, and have no idea what to do to survive with my disabilities and inabilities and problems until such time as my disability claim is approved. Terror over this has been the dominant theme in my life in recent months, and all I can say is that I'm hoping you'll help it go away, at least for a while.)
The bad news was that it turned out I didn't have the required 27 credits of work, with 20 in the past 10 years, in the Social Security system to be eligible for Social Security Disability.
(I am paid somewhat into retirement; at present, having just turned 49 on November 5th, I'd get $229/month if I took "retirement" at 62, $318/month if I "retire" at age 66 and 8 months, and $403/month if I wait until age 70. I'll jump off that bridge when I get to it.)
The good news is that people ineligible for SS disability are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
As I intended, I've been proceeding through the process of applying for SSI, and, as predicted, being denied, and appealing.
I have no idea how much longer it will be, but I'm planning on another year, at least. (Maybe longer, maybe another year or even more beyond that, but presumably that'd be around the limit; if I'm lucky, only another year, or maybe even less.)
I won't bore people with all the figures and possibilities, nor my worries about them, but it turns out that the maximum amount I could get directly from SSI for my disability is $623/month. Which isn't easy to live on.
On the up side, some states supplement that.
On the down side, Colorado doesn't. (I may end up looking into moving in the future, if I can somehow possibly afford it. Big "if.")
Then there's an, as expected, unbelievably complicated series of rules about how the money goes away, mostly, if you have any other source of income, including gifts. On the other hand, there are paths to working.
There are other complications I won't detail.
The bottom line is that it isn't remotely as simple or permanent a step for more, well, security as I'd hoped, but it's still a step, a crucial step, and the best path available to me at present, to continue to take this day by day, step by step, and do my best to get approved for SSI disability, and continue to proceed from there to figure out how best to stabilize my situation long term, and keep away my nightmares of dying alone in my apartment, unloved, or being homeless again, or in threat of eviction, or worse.
And I still have major dental problems, and other health problems, but that's another story. Well, it's the same story, but again too boring to detail.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: For now, three things: Donate. Donate. Donate.
Most of all: Subscribe. Subscribe. Subscribe.
Subscriptions are most important, and far far far better than donations, if you don't cancel them without warning, because they lend predictability to my extremely uncertain life, and act as a substitute for an "income," as most people call it.
You can use the PayPal buttons if you have a credit card -- no PayPal account necessary, though it only takes moments to acquire one for free -- at the top of the blog to donate or subscribe.
The other thing you can do is if you're a blogger, help me by blogging a post linking here, and explaining why people might want to help. (I have little idea, myself, so I'm grateful for your words and notions.) It's absolutely crucial that as many people as possible blog and link right now, ASAP, because one thing I've learned from past donation drives is that they're entirely driven by other bloggers posting; hardly anyone reads my blog on their own.
I'm utterly dependent on and hoping people who linked last time will link again. Dare I hope that people who didn't link last time will this time?
This part, like the other part, is all up to you. I completely hate that, but there it is. Help?
If you're a blogger, I ask if you might write a post linking to this one. That's one of two ways a blogger can help.
There's more. I don't want to quote all of it. But you should definitely read it.
Here's why you should read it, and if you are able, put some money in Gary's PayPal.
- Because he's going through really hard times, and it could happen to any of us. And has.
- Because it took incredible courage for him to write what he wrote, and I know that I'm going through some similar stuff, and I would be terrified to write what he wrote. It is not easy to open yourself up like that.
- Because even if you can't donate money, you can link to his post (if you're a blogger), and that will help a lot. In case you haven't guessed yet, I'm one of those can't-give-money people -- but I can blog, and I'm happy to do this if it helps Gary.
- Because he feels alone and scared, and that's a terrible way to feel.
- Because it's the right thing to do, if you are in a position to do so.
- Last but not least, because I have gone through, and still am going through, a set of circumstances that are remarkably similar to Gary's, and I so completely "get" what he's talking about and what it feels like to be in this kind of situation.
P.S. No, wait, that was not the last but not least; this is: Because I have received help -- of a level of generosity I cannot overstate -- from people who are not obligated by reason of familial relation to help, and I have felt that I can never repay that debt. It just occurred to me that doing what I can, in my own small way, to help Gary is a way of repaying my debt.