Sunday, May 13, 2012
Sorry Mom, Eating Is An Entitlement You Don't Need
We all know that person who games the system and gets away with it. Someone who is not fully disabled and appears to be living high on the hog on our tax dollars. Unfortunately, far too many tend to judge the entire system based on those few people without fully understanding what, exactly, these programs do and don't do. I'm going to try, maybe over the next few blog posts, to introduce you to some people who use these entitlement programs and what benefits they actually receive. My problem will be to protecting their identities from those who read my blog that may live in my area.
I have clients in both the 53% and the 20%. I also work with men and women who fall into the 18% for various reasons that are not their fault. All of my clients have been over 50, they've been both men and women, and their monthly incomes have ranged from as low as $550/month to $1400/month.
I live in an area where the estimated average household income in 2010, the same year as the chart was created, was $42,000 a year. The estimated per capita income was $22,000. Median home values were $92,000 and median gross rents $575/month. In the next few years these figures, including rents will increase. When I retire, my monthly income will be around $1000 a month. Since I'm not independently wealthy, I may not be able to fully retire unless my health is so bad I am automatically entitled to access other programs that everyone is so sure we need to get rid of. At that point, I will be allowed to "spend down" or pay directly into the program a set amount of money monthly which will allow me to have Medicaid to pay for my health needs not covered by Medicare. At an income level of $1000 a month, my spend down would be around $200.
The current "entitlement" program being targeted is the Senior Nutrition Program. That is the true title of the "Meals on Wheels" that seems to be on the chopping block. The program was developed because, in the past, far too many Seniors and Disabled were suffering from malnutrition problems that were costing more in healthcare.
For many of these people this meal is the only meal they eat in the day and the only live person they see is the one that delivers the meal. It was a method of identifying those who lived alone and needed assistance with personal care or environmental support. Low income seniors and disabled have their meals paid for by the state. Those who can afford it are billed weekly at a $2.50 per meal rate. Diabetics get 7 meals a week in 5 deliveries, all others get 5.
People who receive these meals can't always handle cooking in a manner that is safe for them, either because they can't stand safely without a walker, or they may have vision problems. However, we in our infinite compassion, seem to feel that this is an entitlement program we don't believe is necessary. It wouldn't be necessary if the families of these people would actually visit them, and do the tasks that Mom, Dad or Grandma aren't able to do for themselves anymore. What I find truly disturbing is the number of offspring of the people who use these programs that are quite willing to see these programs end. The very same people, who at any point in time could have provided for the parent using the program. Which would have made the program unnecessary for all but those who have no family to start out with.