From the Blogposts » inbox

This Is a Story About In/Dependence

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Insurance, Working, and Disability

ConfidentIn my new family by marriage, we like to preface a good story with, “this is a story about…” Thus the title of this article. I plan on this being a new series, so I’m not diving in too deeply into any particular aspect that I am touching on tonight. Let’s call this an overview.

I may have come across harshly with a couple of Twitter folks last week when the topic of being disability came up, so I want to discuss the topic a bit. Explore the water. Clear the air. Join in and let’s see how the community feels. I really hope this isn’t too disjointed, because it ended up in four separate articles by the time I was done.

Upon reading this, some of you may love me more or hate me and never come back. Who I am, though, is a very cut-and-dry, black and white person. I see very little gray in the world, though I’ve been through enough of those muckety-muck college courses to hear about how the world is painted in monochrome, but I don’t buy it for a nickel.

I guess I’m saying, “you’ve been warned if you want to just keep thinking of me a nice, positive guy who thinks the best of everyone and wants to help people;” because I am, but I’m also an onion with many layers. I chose these two photos for this piece because they capture my attitude pretty well. I only listen to those who have my ear through earning my respect from friendship, past experience, or academia that isn’t useless academia. I will go up that hill. I will gain this weight. I will live a long and healthy life with Beautiful. I will not accept anything less than the best for us.

This is a story about dependence…

In Tampa, there was/is this program called Abilities that I used their assistance around 1998 because I was a poor college student who wanted to lessen the burden from my parents’ budget for all of my extra food and some medical supplies. I had a job working at the cancer lab on campus for $5.15/hr that year, which basically paid for my gas and let me go to a movie per week, which I went to early to study in the big, quiet theater. Abilities needed all of my food and medical receipts and pay stubs to process everything, then I got a reimbursement check. Isn’t it nice that they didn’t bother to help me with budgeting or making sure I was making the money I was earning work for me? They didn’t teach me to fish, they just gave me as little fish as possible to live on “better.”

Then I got a raise. $5.45/hr. I was no longer eligible for the program because I was earning too much money. Excuse me? I’m living with my parents making just over minimum wage! In case anyone is keeping track, that was, even back then, below the poverty level.

I was getting $200 in food gift cards per month to buy high-calorie food like steaks and frozen entrees, I got a reverse-osmosis water system, and my first Vest (Hill-Rom sucks) with the program. On a monthly basis, they were providing me with a 10% “raise” by removing those expenses from my budget through reimbursement.

I made a decision at that point: I will never let someone else tell me how little I can make and still receive the same amount of money I have grown accustomed to.

I didn’t want to live in my parents’ front bedroom forever. I found a roommate and moved out. Then I found the ultimate “roommate” when I was back in my parents’ front bedroom again in my mid-20’s. Loserville. It was time to move out again and make a man out of myself so I could be perceived as possible marriage material.

This is a story about independence

Hiking - found a rockI climbed several “job ladders” where each job paid a bit more than the last. When I reached the top of the last ladder I was at with my corporate job, it was time to jump ship and try to work from home with a small Internet start-up that I’d been doing moonlighting with for months. It seemed like a good fit… until it wasn’t. Five months later – the morning after the Super Bowl – they said that my services were no longer needed and I could keep the laptop and would receive 2 more paychecks.

It was decision time. Beautiful came home early from work to be with me – and I was a mess. I had to figure out how to convince her that I could never work for anyone again. “I could just be fired again by a jerk boss or downsized with the economy. That’s not job security. Let’s make our own job security.” I’ll base it on hard work, ethical practices with clients, and driving my skills with what I already did on the computer to all new levels.

She agreed, but for a time. She was allowed to be skeptical for 3 months, and if she didn’t like it after that, I had to get a job. We had the money in savings if we needed it, but we if we had to use savings, I was fired from working at home, too. 😉 I formed an LLC and things shot off! May came around and I had August’s money in the bank and I remember thinking, “this would not be possible on a paycheck system.”

The moral of the story

This series isn’t going to be all about me and what steps I’ve taken to do what I do. Beautiful used to joke that I sit at home and hope people send me money so I don’t have to go get a job. Now we sing a new song… together. Let me help you do what you can to earn what you can and forget about those limitations on your income. You don’t need them! You can out-earn anything they would dream of sending you to help with… and they will always have the power to say, “NO!”

Don’t stay home being your parents’ child forever. Spread your wings. Find a way. Make it happen.

Don’t accept for a minute that you can’t do something because you’re on SSI disability and they will take away your income if you start making too much money. Make too much money and say, “screw you!” Protect yourself. Receiving monthly checks is passive – powerless – pitiful. I know! I’ve been there!

Capitalism isn’t greediness when you’re trying to build up a nest egg to hedge against future storms. Think Carnegie, Vanderbuilt, Ford. Their families are taken care of for the rest of their lives because those men refused to be normal and do what everyone wanted them to do!

To be clear in ending this edition (because another Twitter friend brought it up), I am all for short/long-term disability through work that you paid into through your employer and are due – that’s another form of insurance and you did a very good job planning to get that. I was ineligible when I applied, so that’s my own personal bummer. Secondly, if you’re on SSI disability as a temporary thing because of a work/insurance snafu, you have my  sympathies, too. Please just don’t stay there and be all you can be.

I have several discussions lined up that I snipped out of this one, so we will be touching more on “being a victim of cystic fibrosis,” “dealing with insurance,” and “internal struggles of self-worth in a world of able-bodied people.”

Comments

  1. Unknowncystic says:

    I'll tell you. The quality I respect the most about you is your drive to work on your own and be free of others controlling your destiny. You are a genius for doing that. You've been making me think about the next 10 years and if I want to continue to feel the pressure of being fired by corporate. At least I have to prepare and have a back-up plan. How do you handle getting insurance as an individual. Apologies if I've missed the details about it in your previous posts. You and I have been blogging maniacs lately.

  2. Thanks! That means a lot.

    The insurance situation was going to be the next part, probably for
    Tuesday. It varies from state to state, but certain federal laws
    prevail (COBRA).

  3. Unknowncystic says:

    I'll tell you. The quality I respect the most about you is your drive to work on your own and be free of others controlling your destiny. You are a genius for doing that. You've been making me think about the next 10 years and if I want to continue to feel the pressure of being fired by corporate. At least I have to prepare and have a back-up plan. How do you handle getting insurance as an individual. Apologies if I've missed the details about it in your previous posts. You and I have been blogging maniacs lately.

  4. Thanks! That means a lot.

    The insurance situation was going to be the next part, probably for
    Tuesday. It varies from state to state, but certain federal laws
    prevail (COBRA).