I applied for Food Stamps on March 18th. There was a lot of paperwork required, just like any government-oriented program. I got a letter dated April 20th saying they needed more information and if I didn’t get it to them in 30 days I would have to apply all over again. The information they needed included self-employment packets for Grant and I s’ meager freelance work and copies all over again of our checking and savings account statements.
Maybe it doesn’t sound like a lot to do in 30 days but it was tax season (our county had an extension) and I had received another load of paperwork to do for disability. Plus everything else a normal mom has to do in between being sick. I worked like Hell to get everything done in time, it was extremely stressful.
On May 20th I personally went to the Board of Social Services and dropped off what was needed to complete the application. It was the day of the deadline.
A few weeks went by and I began to allow myself to get hopeful. No rejections in the mail, no more letters needing more information. Finally today I decided to call my caseworker, hoping for some good news.
I was surprised to get her on the phone.
“Oh”, she said, “Your application was denied because you missed the deadline to get the rest of the information in.”
“Wh-what? I delivered the information in person on the day it was due.”
“Your information was due on May 18th and you got it in on the 20th. Applications must be completed 60 days from your application date which was March 18th.”
I have never done this in my life but as I tried to explain my side, I started to cry. “Excuse me, but nowhere in this letter does it say…(I am having trouble getting the words out because of my sobbing)…anything about a 60 day period. It just says I have 30 days from the above date which says April 20th to get my application completed, and I did that.”
Now you’re probably getting a picture of some spinster-ish, uncaring bitch, but my caseworker is actually an attractive woman in her late 20s/early 30s. I couldn’t believe I was crying to someone younger than me!
“Okay, take a breath, please…Are you okay? Look, I could see where you might have gotten confused. The letter should have been dated April 18th, but that was a Sunday, so your letter didn’t go out until Tuesday and that’s why it says the 20th.”
I was so angry but all I had was more tears. “But, I’m not confused, there is a MISTAKE in your letter to me. I should not be denied because there was an error made on YOUR part.”
“Emily, okay, okay. Look, let me take a look at your application. It’s still on my desk but I have never looked at it because it was automatically denied. I will take a look at it and call you back today, I promise.”
“Are you going to be okay?” I said I was and we hung up.
She called me later and said that she looked my application over and they were going to keep it active. She asked me some questions and said she needed some more specific information about my freelance work. People just don’t seem to get freelance for some reason, they can’t grasp the unpredictability of it all.
This was one of the more embarrassing moments of my life, but I just couldn’t help it. This is so important to my family, especially for my little boy. I will starve before I would deny him anything. I can’t believe we have to wait for even more time to see if we will be accepted into the program.