Would You Like Some Abject Poverty With That?

I left a message yesterday with my apartment manager regarding my lease, which is ending on May 31st. I had signed a notice and turned it in on March 17th indicating that I wished to stay another year when my lease expired, but I haven’t heard anything since then, and we don’t have many days left until the end of this month. I have a certain amount of money in my bank account from the sale of my car that I have been using for living expenses but I figured that if I was going to sign another lease, the apartment manager wanted to see proof of income or a certain amount of reserves in the bank, so I decided to call the administrators of my 401k to pull all of the funds and close it out.

The simple act of getting on the phone causes me anxiety. In all of the jobs I’ve held over the years, I used to field anywhere between 50-100 calls a day, so just know that that’s highly unusual for me to dread picking up the phone and try to figure out what to say without fumbling.

It’s also unusual for me to not have one or two or three jobs simultaneously. The 401k is my last lifeline and the only thing standing between me and homelessness. Right now I have to operate under the assumption that I will never have any money coming in ever again because I have no idea what the outcome of my disability hearing will be in 2017.

The call to the 401k plan administrators only took a few minutes. The first representative couldn’t confirm or deny which penalties I would be subject to, even though my CPA said that I could probably avoid a 25% and 10% early withdrawal penalties because of my indefinite disability status. A second rep – presumably the guy who did the calculations and released the funds – advised me that he had to take out a minimum of 20% for taxes and that I should set aside an additional 10% for penalties, all in a blaring and bored voice, as if he heard this stuff all the time, as if it wasn’t a big deal for me to have no other choice.
I have a few big purchases coming up. First, I have to take care of a crown and root canal completely out of pocket because medical assistance won’t pay for any of it. Second, I need a new bed; this one started to sag about five months after I purchased it last year because I spent so much time in it, but the store wouldn’t cover it under warranty because I moved out of state and the manufacturer would only cover a small percentage (this time around I’m going for the bargain Sleep Number C2 – no inner springs and it costs the same as a traditional inner spring bed). Third, I want to buy a different a/c window unit because the one that was provided with the apartment is gross and inefficient.

After those purchases, I will have to live off of the same amount of money slightly more than what workers make at minimum wage in the U.S. I don’t know how people do it. I don’t know how I’m going to do it. It’s not like I can go out and get more jobs, or a better job.

This is the song of our people. Poverty. Desperation as our bodies shut down, especially in my case (and others out there) when I don’t have a name to attach to it or a prognosis to go by. My counselor has told me not to think a year ahead and allow myself to be swallowed up by the fear of what comes after the money runs out, but how can I not think about that? My life is already so different than it was even just a year ago; I can’t even whisper the words, “How much more can I lose?” That’s like setting up a new dare to the universe.

Hanging up with the Merrill Lynch rep, he wrapped up the call with the requisite, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” The old, working me would have awarded him 10 points for asking the question. The new, disabled me wanted to tell him to suck my ass.

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10 thoughts on “Would You Like Some Abject Poverty With That?

  1. Oh man. Money is so fucking stressful. I am getting not even close to what a minimum rate full time worker would get, a week, over here. I am lucky ( or perhaps unlucky), that i have my parents home to live in to cut costs, but even if i wanted to have a life on the days i feel like i could, i cant. Because poor. I think that ability to earn a living is one of the hardest things to adjust to as an unwell person. Thinking of you xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, sister. I feel like I’m not asking for too much but I am still apologizing. It’s a rotten cycle. You know it. But I am so happy to hear that you are working out how to be at the gym and to be with the horses. That’s that stuff that makes our hearts sing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This pisses me off to no extent. Disability hearing 2017!!! I had to wait but I have income from my husband. and it was a stupid reason why I had to wait…they weren’t sure of the date of disability. How dumb is that?
    You are clearly disabled.
    You need funds now.
    and you don’t need to be jerked around by anyone.
    I don’t know how you do it.
    I’m so glad you had a little nest egg, but now it will be gone.
    My heart is just breaking for you.
    Before my husband I lived paycheck to paycheck, was in debt and almost bankrupt due to a stay in a mental hospital.
    I know how it is to worry where your next meal is coming from.
    I dated some men just to get dinner. and yes I’d order extra to take home.
    I worked hard but made little.
    I lived in the basement of someone’s house, and that was a luxury compared to having roommates from hell.
    I didn’t answer the phone because of debt collectors.
    I still have terrors of those days.
    Life is different now.
    We are stable. But every time something happens that may tip that scale, I completely freak out.
    How can you not think about what will happen in a year?
    How can you just live in this moment when you don’t know if the next moment will feed you?
    I don’t have the answers, but I can give you a little hope.
    Things got better.
    They can.
    and if you ever need help. I have some.
    people care.
    I care.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ugh, girl. It’s a never ending circle jerk some of this red tape. I will tell you. I have had a C2 for a few years now, & I love it. It holds up. I often forget to inflate & deflate as often as I should but it’s still comfortable. I never regret getting it. I think you’ll be happy with it. It’s no frills but comfortable for sure. I hope they’ll extend your lease. The last thing you need to worry about now is this type of b.s. with so much else going on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t realize that you had a C2, so I’m glad that there is someone I know out there in the real world who has that model and can vouch for it. I didn’t know about the deflating & inflating periodically, but I do now! And I’m less than impressed with the management for my building – they had five managers in eight months, including one woman who lost my check and then tried to evict me. She lasted all of two and a half weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is not right that you have to use all funds.

    Community political leaders really need to advocate for people with disabilities since they like most people will have a disability. Since govt knows everything about us now in the age of the internet all this food, housing benefits should just be automatic like our taxes.

    Some contries are worse than others, it is past time for change
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/apr/15/which-best-countries-live-unemployed-disabled-benefits

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate you attaching this article to your comments. The bigger picture is that what SHOULD happen and what DOES happen are always worlds apart, aren’t they? And it’s crazy to me that the social security office has incorrect income reported for me for one particular year that they will at some point use to calculate my monthly disability payments (if that ever gets decided), but I have to physically go to a social security office to get it corrected – they won’t accept a fax or online submission with scanned copies of proof of their error. I filed the taxes and they have electronic records of the tax forms. There’s absolutely no reason that I, as a mostly blind person (when I’m upright), have to drag myself out of bed and navigate the social security office for four hours instead of being able to fix this electronically.

      Like

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