My Village

(Editor’s note: This post was written by commenter K, a gifted writer who’s part of the crew filling in for me while I’m on vacation.)

My daughter, who has Asperger’s syndrome, was just declared eligible for SSI benefits! Yay! She is now officially disabled!

It’s a shaky kind of celebration. For us, it didn’t take so terribly long, just a year this time. She/we/I applied a few years ago, but it looked like she was going to make it, go to school, settle into a functional life, so I let it slip, until someone explained to me what “Wexler GAF” and a score between 40 and 50 meant. I’m guessing it’s all for the best, because in the meantime we moved to a bigger town and into public housing with more available services, stores within walking distance, and our rent is based on income.

Income. Her monthly federal benefit is short of $700. But – and this is the big kicker – she’s eligible for service, as long as she doesn’t earn too much. Somebody to go to work with her, help her settle in, negotiate with her supervisors. Medical Assistance, of course. Glasses and dentists and maybe more physical therapy for her back (a side of scoliosis, please). Maybe she can get to a podiatrist to find out why her shoes wear so crookedly.

In other words, I don’t have to worry so much.

Her father is around, at least physically, and occasionally. We’ve heard him talk about some of the disabled people in his town. He gets a harsh edge in his voice, talking about how they’re always whining about being broke and if they can work ten hours a week they could work forty and get off welfare – Daughter and I just look at each other.

Yeah. Up here where I live it’s called the nut-pension check. It’s hard to fight that, fight ideas in the heads of people who work hard and feel cheated and want to take it out on someone, want to make sure everybody around them is as beat up as they are, people who can’t see into other people’s lives, or feel the ocean we’re all swimming in. And this perception gets internalized by the people who need the help, so they walk around with their heads down, acting out crooked from the weight of the world.

But. Now that she’s eligible for support, Daughter will get a part-time job soon. It won’t pay well, but it will get her out of the house, get her people to interact with, give her that little bit of belonging. She got a state ID this time instead of renewing her permit, accepting that maybe she won’t learn to drive. Accepting a different life, perhaps, but one where she can shine.

And for me, the knowledge that she will be safe.

Yay! My daughter is officially disabled! A load of weight falls away.

9 thoughts on “My Village

  1. Yep, K, I know what being “officially disabled” is all about. In 1996 when I taught middle school here in Atlanta one of my students playfully jumped on my back. Unbeknowst to me at the time, I lived with four herniated disks in my neck for the next 7 years; “Hey, there’s nothing wrong with me,” I said to myself over and over again when the pain became unbearable. Finally, when I could no longer write on the blackboard because my right arm stopped working, I knew it was time to get off the percasets for pain and seek out a surgeon. They put a titanium plate in my neck along with 8 titanium screws to hold it in place for the rest of my life. I’m now—-thank God—-“officially disabled”! Thought you’d like to know……………..”ddddddandy”

  2. Congrats, K. Hope the stress load is down to a manageable level. Tell hubby and anyone else who wants to open their yap that maybe they should blame the people actually responsible for their suffering. The robber barons who’ve suckered them into looking at the shiny keys of their prejudices. God luck to you and daughter.

  3. Oh, look! the SSI ads are up!
    It’s taken a huge weight off of me. Somebody will be there for her when she needs help. I can think about my own life, some.

  4. K, that it good news. Her cash benefit may not be a lot but it forms a floor for her, a place to start and build on. It takes some pressure off of you, which is also important. I hope things work out well for you and your daughter. (I have a friend who was on SSDI and it gave her the space to handle her problems.)

  5. Go USA!

    Jeez, you gotta get a lawyer here to tear your way into the social safety net!

    What social safety net???

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