It’s Personal

I’ve been on Medicaid for a few months. I’ve been on SNAP for a few weeks. I’m waiting to be approved for Social Security benefits.

I’m not lazy. I’m not on drugs. I’m certainly not unable or unwilling to work. For most people on benefits, me included, those are hurtful stereotypes promoted by those wanting to justify their selfish desire to have a tax cut they truly don’t need.

If one person reads this and realizes cutting taxes on millionaires and billionaires at the expense of people who aren’t really sure where their meals will come from next week is immoral, I’ll be glad I shared. If one person struggling gets something positive from reading my story, I’ll be happy I shared.

For over a year now, I’ve been applying for jobs. First, I looked at paralegal jobs. Sure, they were beneath my level of education, but I knew I needed to prove myself.

When that wasn’t working, I asked the Commission for the Blind for assistance and got a job coach. She thought finding work for someone with a law degree would be kind of easy.

Then, I decided to go into business for myself. I was going to open a solo firm specializing in Social Security law. I took a training course on Social Security law. I contacted every local firm I found that does Social Security law and asked for an unpaid internship. I also contacted an email list for local Social Security representatives and another that covers the entire country. Finally, I heard from a local firm about an unpaid internship. At their office, I discovered the software they use to handle cases isn’t accessible with screen readers.

While that was going on, I contacted a membership organization of people helping those on benefits return to work. I reached out to the local organizations helping people on benefits return to work. At the time, I wasn’t on benefits. I wanted a job.

I have attended two local job fairs and an online job fair.

In some ways, writing this post sucked. I hate having to admit I’m not sure I’ll be able to make my next student loan payment. I can’t believe I’m admitting I’m down to eating once a day, because I’m afraid of running out of food.

In other ways, I’m glad to be writing this post. I want others to know they aren’t alone. I hope some will read this and realize the magnitude of the discussions so many are having around health care, taxes, and government benefits.

I was proud of myself when I helped Aunt Gabby get the health care she truly needed. I was glad to help an uncle of mine navigate the system and piece together a better life than he has ever had. I’ve enjoyed answering people’s questions about different government programs. Getting my mom on SSDI is one of the things I’m most proud of having done. I never imagined I’d be waiting for the letter telling me I was getting benefits I need to survive.

I applied for two more jobs on Friday. This website may someday make money. Somehow, I will land on my feet. When I do, the time I spent surviving on benefits will have helped me become a better, more compassionate person. I’m no longer talking about politics because I can sympathize with those struggling in a country that often demeans and wants to forget them. Now, I’m one of the millions of Americans trying to survive until we get the break we need to make the difference we can.


  1. We were on the SNAP program two times, and it saved us. At first, I felt a bit embarrassed when I used my card, but the clerks were so nice. In fact, one of them said that she and her husband were trying to get on the program, but their son tipped the scales, income-wise. I hope you’ll never be embarrassed being on assistance. We have all paid our dues, so to speak, and the programs are there for us when we need them (in fact, we were both working when we were on SNAP). We lost almost all of our 401ks in 2009, and our jobs shortly thereafter. The greed of the 1% in this country still astounds me. I hope you get approved very soon; your future depends on it because, well, this blog is important to many!

    1. Hi Jacki,

      Thank you very much for your support. I’m also glad you shared your story. More people need to hear stories like ours. In America today, it’s more important than ever that those of us who can relate to the hardship that’s being threatened participate in the discussion.

  2. Your 1st job u tried to get was for Apple, u had to take a test that cost you $800.00. Then after you passed the test with one of the best scores every, they didn’t have a job for you. For some reason, not sure why. But you can tell us. All I know is Apple took your $800.00 and u got a kick in the ass. To me this is just another big company taken advantage of someone who trying everything he could possibly do to find a good job. A job which you would have been good at. i know you look at it as a learning experience, and that was that.
    To most of us Apple should have told u before you paid them the $800.00, that they had no job they could hire you for.
    This kind of thing really pisses people off, cuz here we have a big company ripping someone off, that has nothing but trying to better himself.
    Guess that’s how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In this sick world we live in today.

    1. Hi Mom,

      I’m glad I became an Apple certified support professional. I love learning new things, and the material I learned has helped me a lot.

      I don’t remember how much the course book and the exam cost, but I’m thinking the total was somewhere around $300. I don’t regret that expenditure.

      All companies, including Apple must do a far better job including people with disabilities in their workforce. My experience with Apple and the firm where I couldn’t take the internship demonstrate the need for accessible software to be much more of a priority than it is for technology companies.

      1. Well I hope Apple some how gets the message.
        How ever you look at it, or the cost of the test. Apple still ripped you off,

  3. Hi jonathan,

    We haven’t met (yet) but our circumstances are so similar. I’m not a JD or a PhD and I don’t have to contend with sight challenges but I am a survivor of metastatic cancer and the Chernobyl-like radiation treatment that has fiven me extra years I got my MBA at 50 and have survived 3 rounds of layoffs and job eliminations. I lost my beloved craftsman home last September and just started early Social Security the third week if june. I’m now preparing to sell sll but the essentials to raise cash for ever-present accumulated debt

    And yet I am happy most all of the time

    What has helped me is sage advice, surrounding myselg with positive people, building community with people who share similar core values, volunteering and reading research-based newsletters, watching inspiring Ted talks and continually telling myself outloud and repetitively that I making progress and doing a “good job”.

    One of my long time acquaintences/friends, a pragmatic Belgian, told me she thinks of life as a chess board. As long as she is moving a piece forward, she is msking progress

    And so it goes. Day after beautiful dummer day. I put one foot in front of thr other and inch along

    Hope there’s something in here tou can use. Woul be happy to share some of my sources

    Best to you snd your canine partner, Cathy

    1. Hi Cathy,

      Thank you very much for your kind words and for sharing your story.

      Earlier this week, I found out that I’ve been approved for SSDI benefits. I’ll write a post on that soon. What a major relief it is to know I’ll be able to continue paying my bills.

I'd love to hear from you.

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