Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sorry Mom, Eating Is An Entitlement You Don't Need

In an age where the line between opinion and fact has been blurred, it's hard to judge the accuracy of anything one reads online. After carefully considering the claims on this chart from a February Huffington Post article by Jared Bernstein, and weighing the information against what I know from my job, I believe it's an accurate assessment.

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.


  1. Not to beat up on my now late dad-in-law but the dude lived very comfortably during his retirement. He had a successful career and like anyone with a brain planned for his retirement. One of my problems with him was his attitude about Social Security, as far as he was concerned he was suppose to get it until to the day he died, which he did.

    Frankly the guy did not need it, he wasted more money per month on crap than most teenagers. For example the guy bought a pontoon boat on whim once that spent two years tied up to his dock before he sold the thing. So I'm talking some serious bucks to someone like myself who will need social security as a backbone to whatever retirement I am able to achieve.

    If means testing could be successfully done on people like him without some Paul Ryan-like butthole wanting to take charge and cut Social Security on those who do need it I am all for that. I doubt it could happen though, republicans seem intent on cutting everything except defense while giving their rich friends even more tax breaks.

    On a related subject I am dazed and confused (more than usual) about how the majority of the country is letting the republicans talk this trash without making them pay the price. I don't believe they could have gotten away with this scam thirty years ago.

    1. That too is another solution. With the low income people, any increase in their income is met with a decrease someplace else. If someone makes enough to live on from outside sources, reduce the amount they're paid from SS. It wasn't something I wanted to say because they do pay in.

      The ideology of the GOP has changed in the last 30 years. Back in the day, the Republicans were as liberal in many cases as the Dems. You live in one of the former Dixiecrat states. They were Southern Dems that were about as Liberal as the GOP is now. Makes a big difference.

      The lack of pushback on the lies on the part of the media is what bothers me. Media is reporting, and opining on what is said and allowing the line between fact and opinion to become further blurred. Some people don't know the difference any more.

      I'll be 63 this year. We got wiped out in 2007/2008. There is no time for me to recoup. I'm going to need to work at something until I drop in my tracks. I can retire at full benefit at 66. Waiting until 70 won't change a thing because of Medicare.

  2. Sherry,
    If the GOP has its way, I may have to revise my estimate. Instead of retiring ten years after I die, I may have to wait fifteen years.

    1. You may have to wait more like 20. It's almost like the money is coming out of their pocket. Oh! Wait...

  3. Sherry,
    The bill is dead on arrival in the Senate. I did berate my Representative for voting for this madness.
    This will hurt them in the general election.
    Face it, the Republicans hate anything that helps people. As to means testing -Hey! The people paid the Social Security taxes ot of their paycheck. Medicare is for every American too.
    I do believe that retirement age should be a age 67 and Medicare start at 62 - with less benefits.
    Oh, the new VA Clinis is nice! But, I am also a half mile from St Mary's Medical Center and have my Tricare
    and supplement. The closest VA hospital is Marion, Il.
    - I guessI could use Ft Campbell. 90 miles away.
    I will stay right here...

    Great post. Lady, Thank you.

    And Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers - and the muthers too...



    1. How close is the VA Hospital in Marion from you? Syracuse is 50 miles from where I live and Vets in my area are experiencing Tricare refusals to pay the bill for civilian hospitals when "they could have gone to Syracuse." One of my clients cut half his thumb off and went to local ER for treatment. Tricare denied payment. They seem to think he could have driven 50 miles before he bled to death.

      It would be better IF Congress would look into ways to make Medicare more efficient, AND to cut down on fraud. Even if you report fraud, they don't look into it except on a superficial way.

      Lets just not allow Granny and Gramps to eat because it costs too much for their healthcare.

  4. Sherry. I think the word is Entitlement. We live in America and we healthy, hearty American's owe our infirm, old and poor whatever support they require to live respectable lives.

    Out Vets are entitled to the finest physical and mental health services are available. Our infirm are entitled to receive support in their times of need.

    And our elderly are entitled to whatever they need when the have outgrown productivity. It's our obligation--those are our obligations as civilized humans.

    Screw fraud. Fraud is a fact of life. To deny the most because a few are assholes is a small man's thoughts.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    1. Mooner, we appear to live in a time when small minded people is the norm. It's all about them, and they are, in some cases, the reason their parents are neglected except by the programs available to them. It frustrates me.

      Sadly, anything I say here isn't going to make much of a change in anyones mind because I'm not a "popular" blog like Firedoglake, or Greenwald, or any of the others, and they don't explain how this all works. I suspect they don't know either.

      Out of the 10 clients I have served or am serving, only 2 of them had family willing to help. I listened to one clients daughter spout Teahadist crap without stopping to think her Mom is one of those who will become a "burden" on her. She bitches now when she has to take Mom to doctor's appointments. Even goes so far as to complain how busy they are and how hard it is to drop what they're doing to help.