Yesterday, as my writing class was entering the theatre, I said, “I’m not sure if I should share this with you all…”
I was setting up a joke, but the room got really silent. I went on to tell them about this funny review in the Washington Post of the movie version of Cats. I said “I’m not sure if I should share this with you all” for dramatic effect.
My students freaked out. “David!” They yelled. “You have Stage 4 cancer, you can’t start out sentences like that!!”
I got angry a couple of days ago. In the middle of the dust up with Iran, and the normal buffoonery that is this presidency, the administration proposed a rule making it more difficult for people to get Disability benefits through Social Security. They are touting it as an added layer of protection so people don’t abuse the system.
I received disability benefits. For a little over a year. It wasn’t a ton of money, about eleven hundred dollars a month. I cannot tell you how instrumental it was in allowing me to pay my rent during treatment. Because an illness, a disability, it doesn’t work around your schedule. It doesn’t show up on nights and weekends. It comes for everything. It blows it up. For you, your partner, your family.
And the process is already super thorough! First off, it takes six months from the time you become disabled to get any money. That’s half a year. That means you’ve already suffered 26 weeks of financial disruption.
During that six months, they go over your finances with a fine tooth comb. I was asked about a settlement of a law suit I had received four years earlier. They asked about how much money certain shows of mine made. They asked why others didn’t make as much. I was like, “Trust me, I wondered the same thing!”
When finally get it, the paper work continues. You have to turn in pay stubs, no matter how small, from any work you do. If you happen to make over $800 in a month, that counts as a Trial Work Month. After 9 trial work months you lose your benefits. If they happen to over pay you, you have to pay it all back.
I am sure there are people gaming the system. There always are, and there always will be. But these new proposed strictures only add to the stigma of getting disability. And it gives sick people and their families one more thing to worry about. One more thing to keep straight amongst the medical bills and insurance calls and doctors appointments.
But as long as the judges are against abortion, who cares about sick people, right?
As a card carrying member of Generation X, I made fun of my students for their concern. “Look at you all worried be me,” I faux-chided.
It did touch me, however. I am a part of their world, and they are a part of mine. There is a cost to being emotionally invested in anyone. That cost is even higher with those of us with things.