Today I went to the Social Security office with my Mom because she’s planning for her retirement. The offices open at 9:00 am and we got there at 8:45 – there was already a line.
A uniformed man shouted that, “no food or drink were allowed inside,” so I chugged my coffee.
When our number was called the woman told us that we had to go to another office nearby. “This is a problem for the State,” she said.
My Mom looked like her mouth was full of sour lemons and her grey roots were showing. She kept saying, “see no one can help us,” but the fact is they can. It’s just incredibly difficult, especially for someone who has her own things to deal with.
My Father has now been sick for eleven years and each year he gets worse. This experience has taught me a lot about the United States Health Care system, Unemployment and Disability. What I’ve seen is both frustrating and frightening.
Ill people and their families have to wade through a convoluted labyrinth of programming and often there is no one to talk to, “it’s all online,” they say, but what if you’re 65 years old and don’t have an email address?
There are three hour wait times just to be called up to window to make an appointment for the next time or to get told that, “you haven’t been unemployed long enough to receive help.”
It takes 2-3 months to get any paperwork processed because, “they’re behind,” and personally it took my Father two years to get approved for disability, even though he suffered strokes, seizures, has a greatly depleted short term memory and walks with a cane.
And my Family is lucky. My Mom still somewhat holds down her job as a nurse, there are Roth IRAs and Annuities – there are safety nets.
However, despite any savings, how long does money last with medical expenses and no income? Why should people suffer for being sick, disabled, old or laid off? These things are hard enough unto themselves.
They divide families and deplete spirits.
I look around at the Social Security office, or the State office, and I see such anger and suffering. I see people of all colors and ages attempting to understand how and why they got there and what needs to be done to get out.
On our way to the office I hear on the morning news that the United States implemented a Drone attack on Somalia, trying to kill the leader of the militant group al-Shabab.
It all seems wrong to me. It’s a cycle of Defense, Attack, Protect, and here within, ill people are trying to navigate systems that are designed to be difficult so less are served.
I do think a huge shift is slowly occurring in our society; that the generation beneath mine is looking more toward healing, and I don’t think this shift can happen fast enough.
We on both an individual, societal, national and global level need to learn how to recognize our fears, and sit with them instead of always turning against the other. We need to, even on a small scale, look at how the communities we exist within help those in need, and not just assume that everyone who is receiving help is taking advantage of the system.
We need to evaluate what our nations our investing in and hold our leaders accountable because I guarantee the cost it took to build a Drone could also pay for someone’s much-needed operation.
Of course, I hope one day to exist in a world where we don’t need Drones or Bombs, but I am not so naive. Still, we are the United States of America, and yet we so rarely united on any issue regarding the internal care of our people.
I think all teenagers should be assigned a hypothetical income and problem, and then go through the system and attempt to solve it. They’ll see how it feels to be left waiting, clutching a number and being told, “no.”
Then these children will grow up and maybe instead of investing their knowledge in weaponry or material gain, they’ll be inspired to use their brains to create systems that will help heal the many families who live within our nation.