In September I had one of the dumbest conversations with a state worker ever. I wanted to blog about it but things and other topics came up. When you are on Food Stamps (FS) you have to complete an Interim Report after six months into the program. When I looked at the application, there were some glaring contradictions and things that just didn’t make sense.
I called up the Head of the FS caseworkers. I didn’t want to do anything wrong that would jeopardize my case.
“Excuse me”, I said, but when is this application due? It says in ten days but ten days from what? The date of the notification, the date you got it?”
“You should try to get your report in as soon as possible because we don’t have a lot of people looking at the cases.” (Um, why is that my problem, and why doesn’t it say so?)
“Well then, there is a mistake in this paperwork, because in another place on the forms it says I should get it in on October 15th”. (Which was more than a month after saying earlier in the report that it was due in ten days.)
The woman started to get angry at me. Did she write the form? Proof-read it? “Just get it done as soon as possible”.
“Okay well the other thing I am confused about is that the form says it wants our income from the month of September, but we are not even half way through September, so how could I know my income for this month?”
“Just do it for the month of August!”, she snapped. How would I know this if I had never called???
So although my due date was on a Sunday, I went to Social Services and got it date stamped and put it into the Inter-office mail so they couldn’t say they got it too late.
October was the first month that we had ever run out of FS before our account gets filled on November 4th. I kept going shopping every couple of days, and buying what was only necessary. So right on November 4th I go shopping and ring up $128.00 of groceries. I swipe my FS card. “Your card is saying you have insufficient funds”, the cashier told me. We tried it again, same thing. The cashier was very nice. “If you want we can put the food back for you and you can call and find out what the problem is and then come back for the food”. So exhausted, I couldn’t picture shopping all over again so I put it on my credit card. $128.00! This is a lot for someone who is slowly (quickly) maxing out her credit cards.
I went home mad and crying. I call the number on the back of the card and she asks me to verify my birthday. The birthday they had for me is WRONG so the woman said she couldn’t help me but gave me another number. So I called someone else and this woman told me I have been turned down after filling out the six month report! I was shocked, because if anything, we were in worse shape than six months ago!
By this time I was hysterical so Grant called the above mentioned FS worker caseworker head and she said that they were still looking at my interim report and there should be no problem. But do they suspend your food stamps while they are reviewing your report? If I had known this I never would have shopped for a weeks of groceries!
I couldn’t stop crying. Not just for me, but what if someone who didn’t have any credit cards was turned down at the cash register. How would she have fed her family?
So on Monday I am going to call back and ask if this is the normal protocol. I tried her all day Friday but all I got is voicemail and I wanted her live. Do they suspend people’s food stamps during the investigation? If so shouldn’t they tell you?
This really pushed my buttons and threw me into a deep depression. We count on these food stamps. We do not have any extra money for food. That is why we are on FS in the first place.
I guess hopefully by Monday I will have my sweet, calm professional voice back and find out just what the Hell is going on. I am so tired of being treated like an idiot just because I am poor. I did not lose my intelligence and right to ask questions just because I lost my money.