In A Nutshell

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Despite being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia about a decade ago, I was able to work and lead a "normal" life, until I became severely ill with MS type symptoms one month after being laid off in June 2009, which meant no health insurance to properly address the problem. I spent 3 days in the hospital but since they initially did not want to keep me (one doc said I may have MS, but was overruled), I did not qualify for the financial aid for hospital bills because they did not think I belonged there. I was misdiagnosed with Labyrintits and sent on my way. I was told it would go away in a few weeks, that was 3 years ago and I have had the symptoms of dizziness, balance problems, vertigo, and pain every day since then. I went to a local free health clinic until they told me they exhausted all their options and could not help me any longer. I cannot drive nor work outside the home and only walk briefly with the aid of a cane, but also can't get disability because I have no real diagnosis for these particular symptoms. These are the chronicles of my (so far) dead-end journey riddled with bodies of good intentions.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sorry, YOU Don't Qualify (If I can ever afford a tombstone, these words will go on it.)

Wow, after almost three months I finally got through and got an answer. Who and what? Well, since you asked.

I was directed to Catholic Charities by a friend a couple of months ago to see if they could assist me get out of the never-ending cycle of not being able to earn enough money because of the health issue to make a living. I went to their local website to look for instructions on how to apply. The instructions specified to send an email and they also listed a phone number. I called the phone number during regular business hours and got a recorded message, so sent an email instead.

I received a phone call in response to said email and after stating my situation, the lady told me I had to call the intake number, but they were only taking calls twice a week for an hour and a half each day. That is what I did and after literally pressing the re-dial button thousands of times over a three months period, I was so surprised to hear a ringing sound and a voice at the other end, that I almost hung up by mistake.

"How can we help you?"

"I am inquiring about assistance because I can't work outside of the home because of illness. I have to pay my lodging bill next week, but do not have enough for that. I also need some time of health care."

"Do you have any past due bills?"

"Mhm, I have old hospital and doctor bills. But, that's not what I was calling about. I live in an extended stay hotel so I have to pay ahead of time. But, if I don't make the payment, I will be homeless because, unlike rent or mortgage, you can't negotiate a later date."

"Why do you live in a hotel, isn't that expensive?"

"Yes. But I can't qualify for an apartment, even though they are cheaper, because you need to have a job and make three times more than what the rent is. I tried explaining that I now pay a higher rate, so if I am able to pay that I can pay for a cheaper apartment, but that did not work. They say they have to abide by guidelines."

"If you do not have a job, how are you paying your bill?"

"I am using what I had saved up when I was still getting unemployment."

"I am sorry, but we cannot help with this. We can only help with past due bills, like for utilities. If you become homeless, you can call back."

"So, if I can't pay my bill next week and become homeless, what number do I call?"

"The same one."

"Uhm, it took me 3 months to get through."

"I apologize for that inconvenience. But, the need is very high lately and we have very limited funding. Have you tried calling the United Way or gone to the Department of Social Services?"

"The Department of Social Services only provides cash and medical assistance for pregnant women and families with children under 18. United Way has referred me to several agencies, but the agencies, when I called them, told me I do not qualify for their programs."

"Well, I am sorry, but good luck to you."

"Thank you."

There is a whole lot more I want to say, but there is no need tying up the line for someone they can really help.

1 comment:

Diane said...

How hard it must be to take those phone calls from people like you, Alex. Well meaning people without much to offer. Is there no organization in this country that gives help to "anyone" in need without categorization? Apparently not. Reading your experiences is a huge eye-opener.