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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Social Insecurity

Happy New Year, folks! This is my first post of the year, a year in which I hope to build a following for Winheld's World. So please, spread the word...

A rather innocuous looking letter arrived recently from the Social Security Administration, informing me that I owe a bundle of cash to Uncle Sam. Every three years, my case is reviewed to make sure I still qualify (Yeah, I still have muscular dystrophy and yeah, there's still no cure) for disability benefits (SSI). Because I receive SSI, I qualify for medical assistance, which pays for attendant care as well as for the boatload of medications I take. As you might imagine, there's absolutely no way I could pay for these things on my own.

But in order to receive benefits, I am not allowed to have more than $2,000 in resources, such as bank accounts or stocks. As it turned out, I exceeded that limit for many of the past 36 months. After signing up to receive my SSI checks by direct deposit, I neglected to keep an eye on the amount of money in the account at any one time. I cannot hold a checkbook in my hands, so I really could not keep up with things. Now that I bank online (see my entry from 9/12/06), the situation is a bit different.

I'm obviously going to have to accept the consequences of my actions. I broke the rules and now I have to pay. But that doesn't make the rules fair. Why should people receiving SSI be limited to just $2,000 in resources? What if I want to save for a rainy day? I thought that saving was supposed to be a good thing. I like to keep some money around in case the wheelchair lift in my van breaks down or the van itself needs to be repaired. I also like to have the funds available in case I need to buy some adaptive equipment that isn't covered by insurance.

It's not as though the extra money in my account is the government's money. It's my own personal savings, accumulated before I started receiving SSI. The SSI checks that I receive each month are spent by the end of the month, used to pay my bills. Although I live with my parents, I still contribute to household expenses. It's the least I can do.

This is certainly not the way I hoped to start off the new year, but I'm not about to let it get me down. I've got better things to do, like getting my book published...


Anonymous said...

That is absolutely ridiculous and totally unfair. I wonder if many people in your situation have the same problem. Keep up the great attitude!!!!!!!!!

JB said...

Maybe Social Security Administration would accept a (notarized?) letter from your parents stating that you are contributing to the household [amount] a month, and what you are paying for: rent, food, electric, or so forth. Definitely if you're paying rent, find out if that could be taken into consideration for this. Also, there's something on those review/appeal forms (and somewhere else, I think) called "what we count" as expenses. I remember one of the things the review form asked is if you eat any of your meals outside the home. If not for this time or retroactive, you could maybe inform them of your expenses, and they could adjust this.

One of my SSI case mgrs. told me that SSI doesn't count their payments to you as your assets.