Wednesday, May 31, 2006

social security

today, i (kimberly) went to the social security office to sign the girls up for benefits. though they have been eligible all of their lives, they have never received these benefits, because their mother just never knew. the case worker helping me get them their benefits told me that she had never seen a more "messed up" or "complicated" case.

i was pleased to learn that they are indeed eligible and as long as i can become the representative payee, we will be infused with a whopping $132 per month per kid. it should also be noted that i have also applied for temporay assistance for needy families on behalf of the girls (they are counted as needy) this will bring in an additional $147 per kid per month.

their dad who has been eligible for benefits for over 7 years has also never applied. this family has been completely neglected. it is horrible that the system fails so many who don't know enough about how to navigate it.

i think a run down of the family’s finances might be interesting for some of you. it has been an eye opener for me.

shelia had been on temporary assistance for needy families (tanf) and social security disability insurance (ssdi). a few years ago she became ineligible for tanf because her $687 income from ssdi was too high to qualify as needy. (thank you newt and your contact on america). so for the past 5 years this family of 3 has survived on $687/month. they live in section 8 public housing, so they had no rent or utility payments. they are on medicaid..., which by the way is awesome (more on this in another post: be all on edge).

as i mentioned, the girls have been eligible for the $132/kid/month their whole lives, but no one applied for their benefits (we are hoping to get retroactive payment and stick it in a fund for college etc.)

now, if lindsay and i were to become foster parents the district would pay us $1500/month for the two girls. they have decided that a child under 11 gets $700/month and children 12 and over get $800/month. funny how mom and two kids were given only $687. seems like any enterprising impoverished american would be wise to give their children up for adoption because then you wouldn't have to share your benefit and you could make sure your kids always had enough food to eat. (again more on the level of neglect later...suffice it to say that ketchup heated up with water does not a soup make)


welcome to raising dc

On May 1st 2006 the lives of four people, who here will blog, changed dramatically. Jennifer (11 years old) and Paulette (12) came to live with two roommates and policy wonks (on good days) Kimberly and Lindsay. The girls’ mother, Sheila, was taken to the hospital on or near her deathbed.

The stay was supposed to be short, but it looks like our assumptions of timing were way off. Shelia was released from the hospital after 10 days and admitted to a nursing home. On Mother’s Day she announced that she would not give her babies up for adoption, but that she was also never coming home.

It is impossible to capture all that has transpired and all that has been learned in the last month in one posting. So, this is a basic introduction; the back-story will unfold here, along with the daily happenings. All of us are excited to post and share our experiences.

In short, the last month has been a real soul-searcher. We have all learned a lot. Our lives have changed. Jennifer and Paulette were living in some of Washington D.C.’s worst Section 8 housing. Drug and sex deals were exchanged right outside their door. They lived in the heart of the hood. Now they live 8 blocks away in the heart of Capitol Hill. They used to spend all their time taking care of their mom, they now have two moms who try to take care of them (try being the operative word).

Roommates raising children. As one of our friends told us, if it weren't real life, it would be a great sitcom.

--kimberly & lindsay