Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Who I am....

Hello, my name is Sandra and I am a full time live-in care provider for my father.

I am currently working to find some form of assistance that might be available to family caregivers, if you know of anything I may have overlooked in my searching please let me know about it. Thank you.

So far I have gone to Access Alaska, who advertise in local papers that they will pay family members to provide in home care to those in need of it. However, they were unable to assist me because my parents are not on Medicaid. I then went to the Division of Public Assistance and was told by the woman there that since I have zero income they can give me food stamps (little over $100 a month), but they could not help me with medical, dental or new glasses because "you aren't pregnant."

When I filled out the application for food stamps I was surprised to find the form went something like....

Name.... Social Security Number... Are You Hispanic?... Race....

WHY in a public service office that does not discriminate against ethnicity do they have a separate question asking if I am Hispanic? Would I have been given more assistance if I was not a single white woman of average age and born as a natural citizen of the USA? From the things that the woman my mom and I was talking to was saying - yes.

With that route a bust other than my qualifying for about $100 in food stamps we followed the social worker's advice and went back to Access Alaska... Again they said they would only help me if one of my parents was on Medicaid... then they would charge Medicaid and pay me to care for my parents. (I wonder how much they keep of this money?) The gal suggested that if my parents earned too much to qualify for Medicaid they could drop part of their money into a trust fund to get down to that financial bracket. Am I the only one that thinks that is a rip off scheme?

There are a lot of places out there that would gladly pay me to provide care - but only if I am not related to the person I am providing the care for. There are also tons of places that will pay a stranger to come in and care for my father. WHY can strangers be paid by these programs, but not family members? You need a doctor's signed statement that the person needs a caregiver for so many hours out of the day, so it's not because the program would be abused.

Since my father is retired Army (21 years), my mom and I went to talk to the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) next. The VA could do nothing to help but suggested we go talk to the Social Security Administration, saying that they had a program where the SSA would increase my dad's SS check by enough to pay me for providing care to him.

Off to Social Security, a two hour drive one way...

The man at the Social Security office said that no such program existed, the VA was probably just trying to get us to go away. We explained that my concern at the moment is that when I get older I won't have Medicare or Social Security to provide for my needs because I can't work and care for my dad. The man just shrugged and said that all I needed was to work for ten years. My back and hips and knees are already shot though... I'm not sure I'll be in good enough shape in a few more years to get someone to hire me for ten years. Particularly when I cannot even afford to see a doctor to find out what is wrong with my hips and knees.

So that is where things are now. I'm trying to think of who else I might turn to for help. If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear about it. As it stands now I could get help hand over fist if I was a pregnant Hispanic providing care to a stranger, but as a white single woman without children caring for a disabled WWII veteran I am ineligible for anything.

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