Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Low-Income 2 Step

Hey, I bet you didn't know that to be Low-Income, you have to be quick on your feet, and be a great dancer..... Yeah it isn't what you think. I am going to show you the hoops that honest people have to go through in most States right now.

The Low-income head of household wakes up. They have decided that they need to swallow a lot pride and go to the local Department of Health and Welfare. He or She goes in and is handed a packet of paperwork they need to fill out. What is it that The Department of Health and Welfare needs to know in this paper work.

Well for starters, how much money you have in a checking account, in your saving account? Do you have a 401K? Are you a migratory worker? How Much do you pay in Rent? What are the Utility cost? Name and Social Security Number of everyone in the house, and what is the relationship of those people in the house? Are you a fleeing Felon? Do you have any Assets i.e. IRA, Stocks, bonds, annuities, Time Certificates, 401-K, Money Market funds, or Trust Funds?

And that is a few of the questions that you are having to consider, as you fill out this form. Although because we live in the future, you can skip the embarrassment of going into a local office. Now you can be embarrassed in the comfort of your own home. And then after you have answered all questions to the satisfaction of the State issuing authority. Because like Cartman from South Park, You will respect their authority!... Ok, I admit that was a bit snarky on my part.

As if that wasn't stressful enough, after you have filled out the paper work. You now have to do an Interview with a social worker, however in a lot of States, if you fill out the online form you can do this interview on the phone. Which is where the Low-Income Two Step begins! Anyone who has applied for any kind of State or Federal assistance, know that the way you answer the questions are as important as the answers you give. If you answer a question wrong, or if the social worker asking the question doesn't like the way you answer it, could result in getting less then you need, or not getting the assistance at all. I'm not saying that people lie to get much needed assistance, however the State and Federal Government make it much harder then it needs to be, for families and individuals to get the help they are looking for.

Making it so hard for Low-Income families and individuals to get the assistance, such as food stamps, medical assistance, and other state provided assistance. Means that honest people get penalized, for those that have abused the system. I have always thought that if someone is found to be abusing the system then that person individually should be penalized for that abuse on a case by case basis. That is the only fair way of handling that kind of situation.

Success!...well not quite. Now you will have to wait for the State to determine whether or not your, in some states, 200% or more below the poverty line... Yes that's right Two Hundred Percent below the Poverty line. A lot of states think that $900 or less a month is enough money to live off of for a month, and will deny benefits if you make more then the state mandated maximum allowable amount. So the true amounts might not be reported or under-reported.

So as you can see there are a lot that goes into getting state and federal provided support. Just applying for the benefits can be a very stressful, and embarrassing event in and of itself.

Update: Since I first wrote this post back in February of 2010 there have been 13 states that have either enacted or are in the process of enacting the requirement that you be drug tested now before you can get your benefits. The results have been less than what they proponents of these policies have been saying they would be for example, in Missouri they tested 293 applicants out of which only 38 tested positive, at a cost of $336,297. Not what I would call a great return on investment if you ask me. ThinkProgress has a great report on this issue.