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Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to Apply for Welfare

The process to get approved for assistance is humiliating. They poke and prod you, asking for detailed financial information, your paystubs, bank accounts, and more. Be prepared to provide copies of all of your financial information for the past 3 months. Then, after providing the information, they call you a liar and investigate. While they investigate, they will try at every opportunity to disqualify you for assistance.

You do have to literally be destitute to qualify. I qualified after living with no heat for 2 months. I only had $20 in change to my name. I had to spend that last $20 on gas to repeatedly go to the office and make sure my benefits were approved. The clerk at the gas station was strangely unenthusiastic about counting my change when I filled up. I would go to the office twice per day: at 8 am when the office opened, and 12:30 when my worker came back from work. The key is to be constantly lurking when they least expect it. I was too desperate to play the welfare office shuffle. I don’t blame my worker for the situation. The social workers are typical government employees: under-paid, overworked, and with a tendency to shift responsibility to others.

After a month long process, they will deign to release benefits to you. By the time my benefits were released, I hadn’t eaten in 2 days. I know there are food banks, and soup kitchens, but I didn’t want to risk using my meager tank of gas on extra trips. I am lucky enough to have extra weight to spare. That said, I wouldn’t advise the So Poor I Can’t Afford Food Diet” to anyone.

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