Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Just more updates

Insurance agent I talked to yesterday: "How in the world are y'all making it?"

We are now $12,000 behind on our mortgage but have to start paying it again next month. With the mortgage terms redefined, I'm hoping we can get it under $1000 a month. The kids are on CHIP but my husband's and my COBRA payments go from $323 to $969 next month. My husband wants to get catastrophe only insurance at $50 a month--that leaves him with insurance portability/ability to get insurance with a new carrier. By law, I am supposed to be able to elect COBRA if my husband does not--but his insurance doesn't allow this option. We we may be having to pay twice as much as if they weren't doing this illegally (do we really have the resources to protest?--we are trying to survive). At about $1700 a month (maybe $1850 with continuing slow ebay and Amazon sales) we can't afford the house and insurance, the house and car payment and utilities. I feel like crying but I'm in such fear I can't actually do so.

Our food stamps ran out. The small food bank (you can get a few days' worth while waiting for an appointment with the big one) is closed today because of weather. The big food bank you can only go to every 90 days. I don't know when we'll get food stamps again--it took several months to get the emergency ones we should have immediately received. I'm trying to figure out whether we can get $70 for an Angel Food order by next Monday, but I hate to spend that in case we get food stamps before that. (How am I still overweight?, inactivity plus cheap food I guess.) The kids are on free breakfasts and lunches at school, so that's a help.

My husband has a job opportunity, but it is in software sales and will start off slow at best (a startup in this economy) and it may be a few months before we get a paycheck. It's anyone's guess what that will be. It also offers no insurance. So now I have to apply for disability. Normally people can continue COBRA coverage for another 18 months if they have already received a ruling from the SS administration that they're disabled. Those of us who will be on the waiting list--tough. I can get COBRA for another 9 months. Without insurance, our medical bills would probably exceed what I would make, so there's not an option. There's a two year waiting list to get Medicare once I am approved for disability. So given the one year or more wait to get disability, I may be without insurance for a few years; if there's any lapse in my coverage, I am going to be uninsurable. In other words, if my husband doesn't get a job that has insurance in the next nine months, medically I'm screwed for a long time and will not have the option of going off disability.

My husband's on the phone with a free legal aid service about bankruptcy and disability filings (bless them, I talked to the guy for a minute and he's very kind). Most "things" I don't care about, but I am worried what will happen to some belongings that are very treasured (from grandparents) and whether the people who come in to evaluate our stuff will overappraise it (couches with holes wouldn't garage sale for much; we also have tools for working of which only $1000 is exempt for each of us). I'm also worried about things being stolen from us during this process. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't trust this process or think that appraisers would necessarily be scrupulous. So yes, there's a possibility of work/money soon, but this isn't established and in the meantime we're hitting the greatest low ever. We're receiving about 15-20 colletions calls a day.

Like so many families, we just want employment--with benefits. I received some notices about another mom whose husband died--people are taking up a collection to pay for her plumbing repair and some other needs. But she has a job and he had life insurance. I mentioned to my friend who's coordinating help that we can't help with food right now since we can't get into a food bank (we have a few things we can eat but can't squander anything), and she said that was okay, she understood. Same with a mom at the kids' school asking for donations of food for a student treat day.

It hurts to see other people getting so much help when someone becomes very ill--where was our help with housework and cleaning services after my surgeries? I'm sorry, that sounds like sour grapes. It is sour grapes and it's horrible or me to think about, to make comparisons. But my husband was and is exhausted--caring for our home, the kids, doing the errands, plus working full time--even the lawn service done by him to save money. I "need" him to do more, but how far can one person be stretched? Sometimes the house really is in shambles and I feel like we're living in piles of junk that can't be cleaned up--it's not the worst imaginable circumstance in that regard, but we need help for a garage sale for what can't be sold on ebay/amazon (we've sold a lot there). He hasn't been able to do that and everything else.

People don't understand that we're in need and I don't know how to explain. Every time I try to, someone talks about people whining too much or not being optimistic (these are people still living in very high privilege). I don't want to hear another person complain about their Christmas shopping. We're having to spend the money we were given for a few presents for the kids. We're in bad circumstances and I worry what's going to happen in the next few months--if we can get through that, I think we'll be okay. My son needs new shoes. They both need slippers. I need socks and maybe underwear. I had to ask my mom for a few shirts. I am NOT asking for money or anything, especially from those with disabilities. But my voice is one of many millions more hurting right now.

Tis the season for giving, but it's not enough and split among so many more people this year. All I want this year is a turnaround in our personal situation and for the economy/other families.

Immediate update: Our personal belongings should be fine. We thought only $15,000 was exempt--and that's easily overestimated.


Disgruntled Ladye said...

Sorry to hear about everything that's going on....
Have you heard of angel food ministries ( They proivde several food packages for $30 or less. No income qualifications or applications. Most of the time churches are host sites. I know it's not free, but it could help bridge gaps between food bank visits for a reasonable price.

FridaWrites said...

Thanks, Disgruntled--yanub told me about Angel Food last spring and we've used them several times. I forgot--it's about $50 for us to get the basic package and extra vegetables--and that lasts a week and a half. We purchased extra chicken once, and that was more. I think we'll go ahead and place the order on Mon. or Wed. (different deadlines at different churches) if we don't have food stamps by then (or even if we do--they take them)--we'll just have to do the best we can and take one bill at a time.

We may have to ask for substantial help from family in a few weeks or in January--kind of horrible to do in this economy. The good thing is with bankruptcy we can can pay them back quickly when we have work.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Dear Frida, thank you for accounting the story of what is going on. I didn't realize it was so, so bad. It sounds like while you can go to the hospital, the waits for SS and medicare are like my waits for specialist.

I don't honestly know how you manage so much, with so much of your own body in peril. As you say, where was the help when you had surgery? I will try to figure out something. Up here the city is closing food banks and shelters, and we are donating shoes and other items for people at the banks which are now completely government and city unfunded. Meanwhile, a mile away in Oak Bay, the private schools with the $12,000-$20,000 fees a year per child are flourishing, all the children have the i-phone and it just seems like there are two worlds.

FridaWrites said...

Yes with the waits--with the backlog, probably a couple of years.

Please don't send anything (since you've just sent winter gifts especially)--we have been told we have to account for everything with bankruptcy that comes in or out, even small amounts.