My Disability Matters Club

Confession: I’m On Disability…For Now

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t speak about politics very often. It stresses me out and it is a massive trigger of anxiety for me. Thus, I avoid it even if that makes me a bit ignorant at times in regards to what the administration is lying about at any particular moment. My avoidance of politics is strictly an attempt to steer clear of a known trigger for me.

Election Day 2016 brought so many citizens to literal tears and heartbreak as exhibited across many social media platforms. My sister, a woman who holds a highly respectable degree in Computer Science (a male-dominated field) and is also a lesbian, was one of those individuals completely emotionally torn by the results of this election. I happened to be visiting her the night of the elections and the days following; she was completely distraught and unable to be consoled despite my best attempts. I had my serious concerns about Trump becoming America’s new Commander-in-Chief but I kept my head high and accepted this disgraceful news with an open mind. I told myself and others struggling to accept the election results to try to be optimistic, maybe he will prove us wrong. To be quite honest, I have never been emotionally affected by politics and outcomes even when I didn’t necessarily support the changes and/or views of an elected politician. This is America, the people have spoken.

In recent days, this has changed.

I’ve been following the details surrounding Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 as closely as possible and I have been consulting a good friend of mine who understands politics better than I do and has been helping me understand things better, as well as trying to ease my anxiety about this whole ordeal. This proposed budget, although unlikely to pass, is devastating to say the least. I knew I was upset about this issue but shocked myself when I called my parents just to chat and broke down crying when I started talking about this whole budget ordeal. So many feelings and fears suddenly surfaced as I quickly began to unravel.

I have never publicly said what I am about to say because of the shame and guilt I feel caused by a stigma created by people who are brutally judgmental. Fuck the stigma, it’s time…

I am a recipient of Social Security Disability as well as Medicaid; both programs at risk under Trump’s new budget proposal. I receive a mere $909 a month to live on and have the privilege to be on Medicare which has given me the ability to see some great doctors I previously was unable to see under the low-income program in my state. I am one of the lucky few who also have Medicaid health coverage as my secondary because an income of $909 is considered to be under the poverty level so I have been deemed low-income. What this means is that the state pays my premium for Medicare (Part A – Hospital & Part B – Medical) which is just under $200 monthly. The state also picks up the cost of copays and anything else Medicare does not cover. I am VERY fortunate to have this coverage and am grateful for it every single day.

Most people don’t know that individuals on Social Security Disability with Medicare coverage still have to pay for it like anyone would with regular insurance. There is a monthly premium to be paid, copays, etc.; it is not free. If I didn’t have Medicaid to help me out, my monthly income would be reduced from $909, which is already not enough to live independently on, to around $720. And for those who now want to judge me based on the fact that I am on these programs, let’s be clear…I DON’T WANT TO BE!! I would so much rather be able to work than go through every single day of my life struggling moment to moment with an unrelenting, violent beast of an illness.

I had to give up on all of my dreams due to this bully inside of my head and it haunts me every second of my life. And for the record, I am not lazy and I am statistically not what comes to mind when people think of impoverished individuals. I am a high-functioning individual who graduated high school a year early at the age of 16, graduated college with a 3.6 GPA, and was accepted into a doctoral program in which I had to withdraw from due to the manifestation of my mental illness. I began working at the age of 14 and held 2 jobs while going to high school in senior level honors classes at the time I should have been a junior (but I skipped the 11th grade). I had a bright future ahead of me and I was so excited about it! This is NOT what I wanted!

Anyways, back to my point…

I was trying to figure out why Trump’s new budget proposal had such a strong impact on me emotionally and then it hit me – I am forced to live life dependent on not just another person, but my government. And this government doesn’t care about how the effects their proposed budget cuts to so many programs will have on millions of people, not just the ones I have mentioned. People can and will go homeless under this new budget, they will starve, children will not receive the education our nation needs for the next generation, the disabled will be even further broken and forgotten, and the list goes on. My livelihood and healthcare are at the mercy of an administration that knowingly puts people’s lives on the line and literally DOES NOT CARE! This terrifies me.

My independence is the one single thing I miss the most about myself. I’ve just been reminded that not only do I have a mental illness that leaves me exhausted and confused after it took so much away from me, but also that I am forced to live a dependent life. It breaks my heart that this is the life that I live and despite all of my efforts, it doesn’t look like I will see a light at the tunnel anytime soon.

I already feel worthless and useless because of my debilitating illness but I’d like to say a special thanks to Trump and his supporters for making these feelings a reality. And one more thing, in case it has been forgotten…people’s lives are not defined by a monetary value but this budget takes millions of Americans’ lives and puts a price tag on each and every affected soul.



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