Friday, March 20, 2009

Lessons Learned

We've had quite a lesson in economics and the disparity between the haves, and the have nots this week.  This isn't a post about politics because really, those guys are all the same to me and in my mind, they're all in bed together.  This is more a post about the bureaucratic nonsense I've been dealing with in trying to make this transition with my daughter.  

At the beginning of this month, Rachel's social worker came to visit with an agenda for me to accomplish in the coming month, beginning with applying for food stamps for her.  In Michigan, it's called a Bridge Card.  Outside of social security disability, my daughter has no income and needs to buy food once she is living on her own.  Line by line, we went through the 20 (or so) page application and filled out only the requested information with dinner plate icons at the top of the section.  This indicates the need for food stamp assistance.  We wrote in depth notes on the back of the application to explain her change in status from living with mom and dad, to assisted living.  I was told to take the completed application to the Department of Inhuman Services (DHS) and hand deliver it to a worker.  Being the good girl that I am, and full of guilt that I'm even asking for precious resources for her at a time like this, I did what I was told.  A lovely woman at the desk, in what appeared to be a war zone full of refugees, took my app and told me that this case would be expedited and my daughter should be getting $25 a week for food in no time.  And I, all smug now, walked out and checked the task off my list.

Fast forward one week to today.  There I am in my jammies with barely one sip of coffee consumed, when the DHS worker from hell called me.  She bitched me up one side and down the other, made me feel extreme guilt for even asking for these services, and told me "she doesn't meet criteria for expedited services because she won't be living on her own until April 4th."  In the meantime, I was expected to provide her food for her.  Duh. I was berated for failing to get her a State of Michigan photo ID and that she'll get nothing until I provide that.  Rather than scream back at her, I started to cry.  I am so overwhelmed that this wretched woman was easily able to send me over the edge.  Having nobody to really lash out at, I bit my husbands head off and made him go take care of this.  

My husband, who is at his own end of the rope trying to cope with my insanity (and fears my tears more than my sharp tongue), gathered the necessary documents including guardianship papers, school documentation and her MiHealth card.  He picked Rachel up from school and went to deal with Michigan Secretary of State for a state ID.  The non-verbal child with an IQ of 25 was of no assistance in establishing her identification for the strangers.  They just weren't sure we had enough documentation to prove who we said she was.  A conundrum for yet more bureaucrats.  Rachel was asked to sign her signature on her ID paper or she wouldn't be able to get an ID.  Please.  Don't they read this blog?  The only thing she does with paper is eat it.  After this, it was time for the photo op.  They redid this four times because she couldn't understand the instructions to stand still.  There was lots of this chiding with repetitive instructions like,  "young lady, stand still".  After what seemed like hours, my husband returned with a new appreciation for the asses I've been dealing with almost daily.

So you see, this is the real economics lesson I've learned this week:  Let's see how many hoops we can make the average person jump through for $25 dollars a week (like anyone can eat well on about $3 a day), while the rich just keep taking, and taking, and taking their seemingly never-ending millions.  Makes me ill.

Dear God-please give me the wisdom to deal with all of this red tape and the fools I encounter.  I seem to need an extra dose of wisdom for knowing how to cope with mean people.  While we're at it, a six pack of beer and tonight's winning lotto numbers would help too.  Amen.


Jadekitty said...

I feel for you. I bet your tears surprised the social worker? Into silence I hoped.

Miss 376 said...

It makes you wonder if they live in the real world. I sometimes think they try to make it as difficult as they can so people give up applying for what they are entitled. A very stressful time for you all
Hugs xx

Cynthia said...

Rudee, I also visualize for you a compassionate person who can assist you in getting what you need for your daughter. Most of the people working cases have a lot of stress and pressure to not make mistakes (ie, give out money that doesn't meet the criteria). That pressure as you know can turn them into people you would never want to know! Plus, some people have a tendency to relish power, and one way to feel a rush of sick empowerment is to say no to those in need, especially those made to feel weak and vunerable.
I dealt with the school system in the US and Puerto Rico, trying to get the special services that my son needed so that he could fully participate and do well in school. Most people...especially here in PR would send me in circles...what a paperwork mess. So many test and usually for the wrong learning problem. They were obsessed with intelligence test...which he couldn't take because his attention wandered constantly...also he didn't know Spanish so the test givers sometimes didn't know how to handle his case. They used test that they didn't trust! (neither did I)
I have to say this to you, Rudee. If you want your daughter to get what she needs (you both need)you have to see yourself as completely right. This is an honorable battle...a mother's (parent's) battle...know deep in your heart that your daughter deserves the help. You are doing nothing wrong. And when someone begins to give you a lecture, stand up for her. If you must, blame the other social worker, blame the system, be indignant. I know I am a peace loving person, but I am realistic. Sometimes, for your own well being and your loved ones, you have to fight. Whose side are you on?- your daughters...and nothing else matters-not the economics of Michigan, not the fact that people think you could give more, not the guilt you might feel. Put it all out of your head. Look at the paperwork process as another project to study and be cunning. What do you need the papers to say so that your daughter qualifies? That's the critical bit of information.

Then when you talk to someone, you keep saying the crucial information...repeat it until they give in. It will happen.

Resting your hopes on their compassion or insight is not the way to go. Say the words (on their paperwork)that give you the go pass.(Find out what you should say, by other's there in the process of filling out forms...they know! or sometimes a new worker will have the innocence to answer your question, what does my daughter need to qualify?)

And forgive yourself whenever you show weakness, you have been through hell. You deserve a little break down once in a while.

So I'm off my battle for Rudee's Rignts speech. Sorry if I got carried away. I hope it's okay that I intruded.

Please come over to Oasis and collect an award...which you most certainly deserve! <3

debra said...

{{{{{{{rudeek)))))))) If the DHS worker doesn't read your blog, maybe I should send it to your Governor and your state reps and senators so that they can read it. I am effing mad.

We are all overworked and tired. We are all stressed. So what.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, it is said. I am ready to take them on.

debra said...

From the Michigan governor's website,1607,7-168-35316---,00.html

• Citizen Assistance
State Agency Support - The Governor is committed to assisting anyone who has encountered difficulty reaching a resolution with a state governed agency, or anyone who is unsure of whom to contact to address a particular concern. If you are having a problem that you would like assistance with, please visit this site.

debra said...

Michigan Senate:

Michigan House of representatives:

Ok---I'll stop commenting now ---unless I think of something else.

Cynthia is very wise.

flydragon said...

What a massive PAIN in the butt for you to go through!!! Not just the seemingly endless paperwork but to run into bitchy, nasty people on top of it!! And your tax dollars are paying those bitches!! I'm so mad right now, I'm sputtering and if it wasn't only 8:00 a.m. I'd be hitting the sauce. Imagine how I'd be if it was actually me going through this crap.

Renie Burghardt said...

Oh, Rudee I am sorry! I hope that you can get the help that your daughter needs.

Hugs and prayers,


Rose said...

I'm so sorry. I have no idea how hard it must be for you.

Anonymous said...

Good lord.

Rudee said...

Jad-the worker at DHS told me I was overly emotional.

Miss-I don't know why these people behave the way they do. When I encountered one this week in my work, she was nice as could be. She told me they're all overwhelmed.

Cynthia-Ordinarily, I'm a fierce advocate for my daughter. With packing, moving, and all of the change, I've become overburdened and prone to tears. Believe me, I'm a formidable opponent for government workers. I am in need of a little shoring up though, and your words do the trick. Thanks.

Debra-at 6:30 AM, I abruptly awakened with much the same thinking. I'm first calling this woman's supervisor on Monday, and then, my legal representatives.

Flydragon, just head north on I75, and we'll drink together. By the time you get here, it should be an acceptable time to hit the sauce.

Renie and Rose-thank you.

Amy-I think I said the same thing.

Gail said...

Ahhhh! I feel for you. Service people seem to forget sometime that they are there to give service not lip!
Hang in there, you're almost there.

Miss T said...

Dreadful. There's something about working for agencies like that which tends to turn people nasty. I wish someone would fix it.

Cynthia said...

Rudee, again, sorry if I overloaded you with my attempt at support. I know you are strong because of everything you endure at work.

I read your post and felt my own challenges...and my pep talk is as much to myself as I'm the wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve kind of person. My fight-for-the- underdog-mother was the person who taught me to fight for myself and the rights of others. <3

Brenda said...

Cynthia gave such good words of wisdom I couldn't add anything to that. I guess you have to find out how they play the game and make sure you play it just as well or better than them to get anywhere. Sad that it is this way though. Will be thinking of you and hoping things get better.

Winifred said...

Crumbs it's so hard to believe the bureacracy involved. It's probably because you've not asked for help before. I thought it was bad here but I've never heard of anyone with a child having this level of disability being refused their disability living allowances.

Take it higher, maybe your local politician can help. I feel the same about politicians in general, but locally ours are really good at looking after and fighting for their constituents. Give them a chance and maybe they'll help.

I had a quick look at the ASA website and there was a some information about financial support but I couldn't see a helpline.

Keep your chin up Rudee, Ashley is lucky to have you. So many people would give up as it's such a hard grind for you.

laurie said...

that's horrible. just horrible. i would have cried too.

jesus christ, you're turning your house over to these people, and this is how they behave???

their rules are often impossible, dreamed up by bureaucrats and politicians who dont' stop to think about what it is they are asking.

it reminds me of when my sister was so sick with cancer that she could barely get out of bed, couldn't walk without pain, couldn't drive.... and the only way to get a continuation on her Social Security disability payments was to go in person to the office and answer questions and fill out forms about her ability (or lack thereof) to work.

if she could get out of bed, drive to the office, sit in a room, and answer questions, she probably COULD work. they had no provision, apparently--none that she could find, anyway--for people who were too sick to go there in person.

it's horrible.

Rositta said...

Rudee, you are incredibly strong. I get overwhelmed just reading your post not sure I could deal with your position. You need a week in Virginia or maybe a weekend in T-dot when this is all over...ciao

Jane said...

I feel for you Rudee. Hope this gets sorted and Rachel receives what she's entitled to without you all running across any more disrespectful people.
The Pi shawl is looking good, BTW.

distracted by shiny objects said...

So very, very sorry to hear about these encounters. I think you are smart to divide up the work involved between you and your hubby. This requires a team.
There are a minority of folks out in the world( rightly or wrongly, I picture them as Stromboli and the villians of Pinocchio) who make a living at "working the system" and I think the system tries to find new ways to confound them, but ends up hurting those who really need the help. Hang in there, babe, and REWARD yourselves for getting even the little steps done. You all deserve it.

Sandy said... heart just goes out to you, big time. What challenges you face trying to get this all straightened out and it also pisses me off big time...that much jumping through hoops for a measly 25 a week....I am outraged!!!

Oma Jill said...

WOW! I would like to say I am shocked. But the fact is I am not shocked. I've had to deal with different departments of the government and I have NEVER found them to be helpful, considerate or affable. On one occurance it was their mistake, I had filled out all necessary papers correctly and I still had to fight them to correct it. Even being told to send a detailed letter outlining the error that was made! Sadly those who HONESTLY deserve the services that are set up by the gov't, don't get it. Perhaps if you were dishonest, corrupt and belligerent you'd get help lickety split. Or were an octuplet mom. (Ok I am just being sarcastic).
I wish I could throttle those people for you! Keep us updated.

Betty Flocken said...

OH Rudee, this just SUCKS... $25.00 a week!!!??? And that bitch put you through THAT?! You know, I'm old.. too old for this but I'd sure like to find out where she lives, pick you up after dark and drop by the store to pick up about 5 cases of T.P. and go "decorate" her house... minutes before the rain starts.!!!