Why I Wish I Was on Welfare

Settling in for a brief little rant here. I see the SNAP program debate, the term “welfare bum” and a whole host of other slaps at people receiving public assistance. People “work the system” and commit fraud, need to be drug tested, blah, blah.

And a big deal is made over how long people get benefits.

You want to know why some people stay as long as they do? Because there is no bridge. No way of easing into the world of independence.

I was on public assistance for a while, a long while, and I was mortified every time I went shopping or cashed a check.

But that is nothing compared to the terror in my heart right now, 8 months after my last bit of assistance was terminated.

During the period while assistance is in play, there is no extra money. There is no way to pay for car repairs, home repairs or anything else. Credit scores take hit after hit until you are decimated. You use a credit card to buy needed clothes for work, to fix the car or pay for glasses. You can only get a car that you need to get to work at a 17% interest rate.

You rob Peter to pay Paul until the mere suggestion of a loan, even a secured loan, is enough to make bankers snort coffee out of their nose.

Then, when you do get a job and you cruise up the level of being ineligible for help, you better hope nothing goes wrong. Because you have no savings. And no credit.

So when the car has problems, you skip a payment here and there to get it back on the road. You’ll get that under control and start to pay back the utility companies with a repayment plan.

But when the big stuff hits…look out. Three weeks ago I was told that we need a new roof – it currently rains in my basement, in my office and on top of the dryer. About $4000 before it’s done. Half up front, half when the job is complete. But with no wiggle room, no roof. Had a quick stop gap applied for a couple hundred and that is all we had. It just slowed down the drops, but they still come in.

And today I had a technician come to repair what I thought was the thermostat on our furnace. But when he left, he refused to turn the furnace on. The boiler is corroded and it poses a carbon monoxide risk. It is unsafe. Cost to replace? $6000.

So we are looking at about 10 grand to get our house habitable. To be safe.

And because we are no longer low income, there is no aid available. And we have no family to speak of, certainly the few that are still alive don’t have any to loan.

And we have no place to go. I work from home, so without a house, I am unemployed.

All the work, all the effort to come out on the other side of aid is for nothing. And I have to look at my son and explain why it is cold in here, despite the little space heaters. So I turned the burner on myself. I’ll be going shopping for carbon monoxide detectors later. When I get off work.

And Santa is going to die this year, and my son is just five, so that breaks my heart. But there is no choice in this situation.

You want to know why people stay on aid? Because the alternative is this. With my job and loss of aid, I am looking at losing my house, losing my job and putting my family’s lives at risk..

On assistance, I didn’t have much, but I had a safety net when catastrophe hit.

I can sympathize with the people who linger on public assistance. Because when you step up, it better be a big step up. Because it’s sink or swim.



13 thoughts on “Why I Wish I Was on Welfare

    • There is little that annoys me as much as those who assume welfare is an easy street full of addicts, idiots and schemers. And when they learn what I am really like, they always say the same thing – I am an exception. No. I’m not. I’m the norm.


    • Thanks! This one just bubbled up and out on to the page in sheer frustration. After the fact I realized I should have made it a private journal post, but it seems I hit a nerve on FB and Twitter with it, so I am glad I posted it.


  1. i hear you sister. we live on a veteran’s disability pension it’s just enough to pay living expenses. we’re $200 over the limit to qualify for help other than medical for the kids and if i took a job to pay for the household/car repairs they loose that too. welcome to the to rich to get help too poor to do anything about it club.


  2. Oh ghods THIS. I became disabled, in my early 50s; used up savings, sold things, went through my 401K, and became homeless at 52. Disabled 52. So… was on welfare while waiting for the Social Security Disability to come through (which took four years, the usual denials despite the recommendations of their own doctors, yadda yadda) and for the Section 8 housing subsidy, to get beyond the one-room shared kitchen and showers SRO I was in for the 3 years after the 13 months in the shelters.

    Now? Yeah, I’ve got my SSDI. Medicaid covered more than Medicare does, even with a Medicare decent Advantage plan (one of many examples, medication copays went from $0 to over $100/month). Even if I weren’t living on the edge, I couldn’t save, because if I had assets I’d lose the housing subsidy, and I’d end up a) homeless and b) dead in two or three months. And I’ve got some serious car issues that I try not to think about, but which will come back to bite me in the ass.

    Medical bills have piled up; I’m going to be filing for bankruptcy next year, assuming I can save up enough for the filing fee and the (mandatory) credit counseling. (I’ve already used some online calculators for this; my income is so much lower than the amounts they allow for expenses, it’s absurd.)

    And one *can’t* get ahead, the system sets you up to fail. (Social Security rules are different — if I were able to work, I’d be allowed to earn about $700/month before they started deducting from my payments, and it’s apparently at the rate of “if you earn $2 over, we’ll deduct $1.) (Section 8 rules are the same as welfare: Report every penny you get, even if it’s a $10 check for your birthday — or, why we use check cashing places instead of banks. And, with the Section 8, if I go even $1/month over their income limits, I’m out. No sliding scale, nothing sensible like that. So… one either doesn’t work even if able to work a few hours a week, or one does things under the table.)

    TL:DR version: You nailed it. It is so damned true. I want everyone who spews that ” People “work the system” and commit fraud, need to be drug tested, blah, blah. And a big deal is made over how long people get benefits.” crap to have to spend six months with no income, no help from *anyone*, and then report back. If they even survive it.



  3. I am sad to hear about your situation, but as you know, you are not alone. I personally believe that the majority of people on welfare are there because they need help. I think the number people who actually abuse the system is a lot less than we think. I hope things get better for you and your family soon. I am also robbing Peter to pay Paul every month.
    Jae Mac @ I’m Just Sayin’…(Damn!)


  4. Argh, I hate that you’re in that situation. It never seems to be just ONE thing, it has to be this onslaught of doom all at once (at least when you’re talking money). Your point about there being no bridge or transition is very true… Everyone wants to moan about how long people are on assistance, but how do they expect them to be able to move towards living without it if they don’t even have the means to bank a little bit of security? It’s all very frustrating.


  5. Oh how the government system has left my life in a disarray!!!! I have worked either one job at least 12 hours a day or two jobs my whole life. Only sleeping 3 to 4 hrs. a night. Then the inevitable happens. I fall off a roof and my world ends.. After ripping my rotator cuffs off, tearing multiple muscles in my abdomen, pelvis & butt ox. Fracturing C-2 & rupturing L-7 disc. Messing up both wrist. 9 surgeries & $ 1.2 million later they put humpty dumpty back together again. Leaving me with a 10lb weight restriction. Neropothy in my belly & stomach. Also with constant shoulder pain. Then they tell me I am bi-polar and wonder why I am depressed. I have never had to slow down in my life ! The bi-polar is how I worked like an idiot. I was living the dream. New 5400 sq ft home, nice truck, nice car, vacation property & $150k boat. Living like a king on the week ends.

    The hind sight begins. Had I fallen off my roof instead of my fathers (read between the lines) the home owners ins. would have paid my medical expenses & pay for life, but because the average home owners cover $ 5000 for others unless they are negligent. I got squat. I had to for pay my insurance thru cobra act @ $ 1167 a month. I lost every thing I owned. To get any financial help I had to prove that I had spent all of my retirement. I obviously wasn’t able to get sate aid.
    I applied for ssdi too early because first wasn’t 50 yet, second and foremost all of my injuries & diagnosis’s were not complete. So I was turned down. Then the appeal proses started. . Next the judge offered to grant me ssi & ssdi when I turned 50, taking a $28,000 hit on my rearranges. With the advice from my attorney I accepted it. Then the judges office screwed up my onset date by a year… 5 weeks later after calling his office twice a week, he sent in his amendment. Now come the government shut down, more delays. Six months have gone by & no response on getting me my money!!! I have called weekly crying for help. Finally I talked to a lady who she said she would send in an emergency hardship form to put me on top of the list & I would have a response with in 15 business days. Well that was 30 days ago. Still calling every week & told sorry but it was sent over to the adjustment but can’t give me a phone number to call that department. I finally was able to get very little help. $ 276.00 on a bridge card & medicaid. If I had children living with me they could help more. Hell I live with my daughter, son-in-law & their two kids.
    Now come people judging a book by its cover. When you look at me you would think there is nothing wrong with me… but what they don’t see is me crying in pain & unable to sleep, even with all the meds I take. I paid in almost twice what the average person pays into the system for over 30 years.

    While I was in the Department of Social Services I struck up a conversation with a young lady who’s family was killed in an accident. She was trying to put her self thru collage & pay rent utilities and so on. She was trying to get help so she had a better life. She came out of her appointment all upset. I asked her if she was OK. Then she proceeded to tell me that they couldn’t do anything for her, BUT if she was to go out & get pregnant they would pay for every thing including collage.. what the hell is wrong with that picture. I asked her what she said. Her reply was she tore the forms up & threw them at her case worker. She told me that she would be a waitress the rest of her life…What is wrong with this world !!!!


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