Job Rants Thread – 1/20/2023 – Insecurity

Hey, all; Happy and Healthy Friday –

As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, my disability has entitled me to claim Social Security benefits at various points in my life, where most might only see them once they hit a certain age. It hasn’t been an ability I’ve always been especially proud of, given both the stigma attached to “being on benefits,” and the general instinct as a disabled person to prove oneself to the wider world; but I also can’t deny it’s helped me immensely in times of struggle.

Well, finding myself currently in such a time, I completed an application with them last week, (after a two-month waiting period I might add) to find if I was still eligible. I won’t go into the interview process here; it was actually a surprisingly simple affair that just sought to confirm my disability, and what difficulties it would cause me in both the procurement of, and actual doing of a job. At the end of it, however, I was asked if I had any questions. Naturally, my first one was how long, on-average, did the application take to process. The interviewer’s tone-of-voice audibly changed as he answered:

“Four-to-six months.”

I know I only paused for a second, but it felt like much longer.

“What?” I asked, perhaps a bit louder than intended. Desperately hoping I had misheard.

“Yeeeeaah.” said the interviewer. His tone of voice by this time was one that I knew all too well. It was the same one that I myself had used many, many times when explaining to someone why they couldn’t avail themselves of the service we provided due to one issue or another. The poor guy was prepping himself for some major blowback; and I couldn’t, good conscience, give it to him. Instead, I asked, as calmly as was humanly possible: “Why?”

He proceeded to explain to me that, not only is the actual processing of the application done in a separate department from the intake, but that said processing department is currently several years deep in the hole in terms of applications, and that it has been an ongoing issue for just as long, if not longer.

Accepting this, for lack of any other option, I said goodbye to the interviewer , who apologized again. And then I ended the call, sat quietly at my desk for an unknown number of minutes, pondering my options, as well as the going rate for human plasma.

Now, as bleak as that outcome was. the fact remains that I still have a brain in my head, a reasonable amount of youth left in my body, and decent savings. My options, though not as many as some, are still enough that I don’t yet need to start measuring the spare room in parents’ house. But what if they weren’t? Hell, take me out of the equation altogether, and imagine someone in much worse circumstances, with far fewer options open to them. What then? What about those people who, unlike myself, have just incurred and/or are coming to grips with a permanent disability and have to reorder their entire existence? Or even less-dramatically, a person entering retirement with less-capital than they would have hoped? An all-too common problem these days, with more and more stories surfacing about companies cutting employee benefits or skimming retirement funds.

What then?

Furthermore, for those of you unaware, my situation is happening in Massachusetts. Boston Massachusetts, to be precise. Home of Mass General, Tufts Medical Center, Brigham &Women’s. and many many other medical centers and care facilities. I mean, on both the Orange and Red Train lines, there are stops named after hospitals. There’s even the old joke that, “While you might not be able to play for it, at least your options are open.” What I’m saying is: if you’re going to get sick, this is the city in which to do it.

And still: Four-to-six months.

What then, and what now? I wish that I could say I knew. The only thing that all-too-apparent to anyone with eyes and a conscience is that this country’s social safety net is being pulled more taut than ever, with a reasonable solution not forthcoming; and that everyone, whether they might need it now, or 40 years from now, will be having a hell of time getting their share if something isn’t done, soon.

As ever, have a safe and productive rest of the day, safe trip home, if out, and great weekend. And, remember: When I say “Healthy Friday.” I mean it. Lord knows that, these days, none of us can afford to be anything but.