SNAP decisions – Things for which to be thankful – The journey continues

I hope you realize by now, that this journey is not a straight-line path, but rather curvy, with loads of diversions to gander upon, plus plenty of little bumps in the road.

But isn’t that life anyway? I don’t think I know anyone who has it smooth and easy every single day. How boring would that be? 🙂

Onward thru the fog (as my friend David says!):

At the end of May 2011, after about five months of on-again, off-again, ever-lengthening absences from the job, the doctor finally decided that a temporary medical leave was needed, to give Jim a break from all the walking.

In August, after being bored out of his mind as a house husband – hey, just because he has MS, that’s no excuse not to tend things in the house; he could rest whenever and however long he needed. I’m no slave driver, ya know! – with the doctor’s OK, Jim and she decided that he should give it a try and go back to work.

That lasted a week. His legs didn’t seem able to handle the stress.

So, in November 2011, Jim went from short-term disability to long term as a state employee. Luckily, as an employee, he had disability insurance benefits that had been paying him since May, though as the time dragged on, payments decreased until their lowest amount, 60 percent of his regular pay, on long term disability.

Of course, there was something that Jim and I didn’t know: disability as a state employee is not the same as being “disabled.” That designation comes from the government and took two more years.

But to our advantage, the state of Virginia initiated Jim’s claims for government-declared disability, which is where we are today. In September, after two denials for Social Security Disability, Jim went to court to state his case. There was also an employment specialist there, who was able to corroborate Jim’s claims about his legs being key to keeping him from being gainfully employed.

After all, what employer will hire someone who is going to be absent from work at least 3-4 day per month?

Even with vacation time and sick leave, the man needs more time off to try to recuperate than any employer I know will allow.

So now you know some of why we live on SNAP benefits right now. At least Jim’s side of the story. I have one too.

I’ve always worked, since I was 16. There were only a few times in my life I didn’t work full time jobs: as a high school/college student, one time each after my daughter and my son were born, and when I returned to school when the kids were older. Though I didn’t work full time, I still did have part time jobs; after all, there was a household to help support. I’ve worked anywhere from one to three part time jobs at one time depending upon the circumstances (while I have been married, to my ex-husband and to Jim) I was able to do one part time job. While I was a single mom for 9 years, one holiday season in 1995, I worked three part time jobs to make ends meet. (Luckily, I still had a secret Santa, who made sure my kids had a Christmas tree that year and arranged for my December mortgage payment to be paid).

But since a few months after I graduated from UNF in Jacksonville, I’ve worked full time, and a few times, more than full time in order to make sure the jobs I was doing got done.

Until November 2012.

I was working as an assistant features editor at an area newspaper, but for years (since before I returned to school) had always dreamed of working for myself. Situations conspired in order for me to take that leap of faith, so, I did.

Unfortunately, though the Universe was giving me signs of positivity in my endeavor, Jim’s MS had silently been at work on him, and though I had all intentions of going full speed ahead, I had to throttle down to tend our family “business,” which was getting ready to kick into high gear, financially.

Oh, we’d had a few financial hiccups prior to my going it on my own, but because I’d not been at home because of the 9-5 grind, I had no idea how much things had gone downhill with my life partner and his ability to assist.

So, now as his 3/4 time caretaker, I work part time, again – just enough to get assistance with medical care for myself (he’s all taken care of now) through our local hospital and local free clinic, $4 Rxs from the Big Box store and free Rxs through drug company patient assistance programs.

So is it worth it?

I guess some people might think it’s an enviable lifestyle to stay home, work part time (on outside jobs) mostly from home and have the government support us to a certain extent.

But I can tell you, I’d rather have my husband healthy again, not in constant pain, losing his memory and physical strength, with only 60 percent or so of his earned pay. We were finally getting to the point of most middle-aged families, where they’ve been paying off bills and are beginning to see the light at the end of their tunnels.

But no more. Not now, at least. And definitely not without so much more added stress on me than ever before.

So until something changes for the better, we’ll have to learn to do without everything. And continue to live for now. We’ve both paid into the system for when the benefits were needed. It just happens to be sooner than we expected.

our home   our home: it’s not a castle, but working on making this mobile home ours.


About GMFarthing

Gina Farthing is a freelance journalist, writer and graphic designer. She earned her BFA majoring in graphic design and minoring in advertising, marketing and business communications. Gina has worked in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia as a copy editor, ad designer, features editor, reporter, website designer, interim city editor, graphic designer, newsletter editor and photographer for the last 18 years. She has produced various communications materials for local, national and international academic, governmental, public and private organizations, including for news media and public broadcasting service audiences. Prior to going into business for herself, Gina’s most recent employers included. Her work encompassed publications such as The Waynesboro News Virginian, the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record, the Reidsville Review, Eden Daily News, Danville Register & Bee, the Draft, Rocktown Weekly, Shenandoah Journal, North Fork Journal, the Shenandoah Valley Business Journal, The Valley Banner, Real Estate Weekly and Bloom magazine.
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6 Responses to SNAP decisions – Things for which to be thankful – The journey continues

  1. trevorkarr says:

    very well written, I liked it a lot!

  2. A perfect example of “why” we must maintain (if not expand) our social safety net–thanks for sharing.

    Good luck!

  3. GMFarthing says:

    I must be still foggy from sleeping this morning, but could you explain, what social safety net are you speaking of, SNAP, welfare or the like? Thanks so much for commenting!

  4. GMFarthing says:

    Thank you. I’m hoping it gives people a real life perspective to ponder when mulling over questions of social welfare and its recipients 🙂

  5. Just a general observation, really.

    IOW, with the economy that we’ve had since 2007-2008, it is vital that we support, if not expand, our basic social safety net programs.

    The main reason that I took up blogging was to push back against the passage and enactment of cuts to Social Security and Medicare that were proposed by the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission.

    However, I care about all of our social safety net programs.

    The recent nine billion dollar cut to the SNAP program was unconscionable, IMHO.

    In addition to Dogs and Music, my main blogging topic is the Social Safety Net in the US.

    I am also quite concerned with the ongoing efforts at reforming our SSDI program.

    From the hearings that I’ve watched, it sounds a great deal like a ‘workfare’ program may soon be put in place. Or at the very least, it may become a VA Disability type of program, which could greatly decrease the current SSDI monthly benefits.

    I no longer follow the topic closely due to a change in health status, but at least since about 2005, there have been legislative efforts at enacting a major overhaul of the system.

    Again, enjoyed your diary.


  6. GMFarthing says:

    Thanks, again, for your comments. I guess I’m going to have to keep a close eye on how things go myself.

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