We made a mistake today. In an effort to stretch our cash, we thought we would go to the county and see about getting temporary health insurance for the kids until DH finds a new job. We have never been on public assistance of any kind, and I ate a big heaping pile of pride to make the phone call.
The woman on the phone took a lot of information, and told us to show up at 1 o’clock for our appointment. We did. Right on time. Evidently, “on time” has no meaning at the social services office. Little did I know- there were scores of people, to talk to anyone, appointment or not, you had to stand in line, put your information in the computer, and wait to be called to one of 25 windows.
When we were finally called (27 minutes after our “appointment”) the woman at our window took down, again, all the information I had previously given over the phone. She requested our appointment slip- what appointment slip? Evidently, when you make an appointment, they send you a packet directing you what to bring and how much time to prepare (2 hours). Nope. Didn’t get one- just the phone call telling us to show up. She explained the “packet” would probably arrive tomorrow. Great.
She spoke very slowly and repeated herself- if I asked a question, she would restate what was already said- in monotone. They needed the kids birth certificates and social security cards- which the phone lady did not tell me, but the “packet” would have. She needed our financial information, most of which we came prepared with. She needed our mortgage, our bank accounts, our savings, our taxes, our utilities, pay stubs, blah blah blah….
It was an exercise in patience and futility. Turns out, with unemployment benefits, we make too much. We’re unemployed, and we make too much. Go figure. If we wanted to apply for food assistance, I would have to look for a job, too. Oh, and the fact that we have three small kids? Well, if I find a job, they can give childcare assistance. It seems, too, since we own our house and have equity, we don’t qualify for anything.
Truthfully, we are just to damn responsible to get benefits. If I were unmarried with three kids, used drugs, or if we hadn’t saved anything, ever, we would have walked away with cash, food cards, medical care and housing assistance. If we wanted to sell our house and piddle away the money, they would give and give and give.
Nevermind we have paid into this system for years and not needed it. Nevermind this is a temporary thing for us and DH has handed out over a dozen resumes since last Thursday- if he were a deadbeat, we’d be great! So basically, if you a normal person, just needing a little help, you’re out of luck. If you are a catastrophe, come on down! I told her to just forget it, and we left.
I’ve heard people talk about The System for years- but now I have seen firsthand. Broken isn’t even the word.