When I applied for social security income the first time ever, I was denied. I had only been hospitalized twice, and they didn’t find me disabled. I had to go for an appeal. Which meant a year long wait to go to court in down town Manhattan at civil court.
My daughter was 3 at the time, and I had a case manager named Natasha Phillips coming to see me once a week to make sure I was taking my medication and make sure I was ok. She was appointed by the hospital and I had no choice but let her come and visit me. She was nice and helped me apply for a Obama phone. My mother was working for democracy prep high school in east Harlem. Her job at ART oh mi was temporary but she soon landed a job at Democracy prep. She was making $75000 a year as the high school librarian. She was the bread winner, and I was just another mouth to feed.
I had been lying to snap with a letter I hand wrote myself with a factious address and phone number stating that I was baby sitting for $100 dollars a week. The offices don’t have enough leeway to cross reference letters or pay stubs so I was able to get snap with out having to go to work force. Work force is orientation for non working working people. They give you a test to see where you stand academically and Point you in the direction of a person who handles job fair. And your supposed to go to orientation to get help getting a job. They have jobs at staples and and security positions, and they don’t help with metro cards. Your suppose to run around New York City on their appointments given so you can keep your snap benefits. You have be doing something. Working or going to school. It wasn’t until I had to apply for welfare the very first time I learned this. I decided to go to Manhattan barbering school on 28th street and broadway. I had a student loan taken out and I was getting $64 dollars every two weeks in cash assistance and $597 in snap benefits. I still just a single mother of one child.
The course was 12 weeks and at the end I had to take the practical which was hard as fuck. It was given at the school and my father had his brother as my model He got a hair cut and a hot towel shave. I failed the master barbers test. I only had my temporary license. I was able to get a chair working in a barber shop in the Bronx off the the 2-3 train. I was in a shop with a bunch of men and I had no idea what I was doing that the manager of the shop had to finish my hair cuts. He wanted me to work on the beauticians side of the shop, it was a double shop one side was a barber shop the other side was beauty salon. But I didn’t have my license so I quit the job.
So then I found out that I didn’t have to apply for full welfare benefits I could just go to the snap office on 125th and 8th ave, someone told me to lie to them and just get a letter saying I was working so I didn’t have to go to child support court again. So I wrote a letter and I was Approved for snap benefits. My cash was coming from my mother. I didn’t have enough to get my nails done so Elaine was generous enough to pay for me keep my nails done. And when I wanted my hair braid I was steal my mother debit card and take out $100 so I could go to 125th street and between 6th and 7th ave to my girl Kane to get my hair braided in an African hair braiding shop that I had been going to for some time.
I was still applying for job and getting some interviews but never called to start working. Until I got job working with a veterinarian as front desk reception. He delt primarliy with Cats, located on 79th and broadway. I got fired from the job because I screwed up the paper work on the computer. I got paid $80 dollars. I didn’t even last two weeks on the job.
So when I found out I could lie to snap thats what I did. I had snap for 6 months until recertfication, and the same rules would apply. I would have to bring in a copy of the lease, a letter that I was working or pay stubs, and wait to be seen by one of the snap officers. This went on for some time and as long as I was putting food on the table no one said any thing. I did still try to find work. I lied on my resume and used my friends as references like when I was working for the town shop which was a lingerie shop on broad way and 81st street.
So when I was hospitalized, then hospitalized a second time, Natasha told me to apply for SSI, that I may not get approved the first time but I could do an appeal and go to court. Surly enough Thats what happened.
Natasha met me down town by 8am to go to court. It was was in July. My father came by the apartment to baby sit for me and I went down to the court houses.
When you do an appeal you have to write to SSA and give a reason why you want to appeal the decision made in your case, and you have to do it online. I had a little notebook laptop called an EEEpc my father bought me for Christmas. I had to make a social security profile and submit To a questionnaire form. I was given a reference number and in a few days a letter in the mail with my court date attached to it. I had no money for a year. I was getting $20 a week from my mother or when I needed money for appointments with snap. I was given laundry money to do mine and my daughters laundry and I spent my time home with my daughter.
I went to my bi weekly appointments with outpatient care on 114th street and Amsterdam with my therapist Chris Wilson and my psychologist Ricardo Miller. I was given a metro card at he clinic to get back home, then I had my weekly visits with Natasha.
Natasha worked for a program called Post graduates on 23rd street. Her job was to visit mentally challenge people at home to make sure medication was being taken and if needed fill out a 2010e. I wasn’t eligible for a 2010e because I already had shelter and I was a single mother . You have to be living in a shelter and not have children, and be recieving SSI. She was in charge of placement of 2010e like moving someone into a group home and things of that nature.
My daughter wasn’t school age yet so Natasha tried her best to help me get her into day care but I had to be working in order to get her into day care. So I would spend most of my time pushing the stroller to Barnes and noble and coming back to feed her lunch. Alot of time was spent in front of the Tv. Because I was on Zyrexia I was groggy. It was a anti psychotic drug. Which left me incompassitated. I would sleep until noon leaving my daughter to fend for herself while my mother went to her 9-5 job. I couldn’t get up out of sleep. So as my mother left She would leave the house phone by my head and my daughter would be up playing with her toys while the tv was on. My mother would feed her breakfast.
It was July when I had to make a court appearance at civil court. My appointment was at 9am. I was there by 8 am waiting outside for Natasha to show up. She was my witness. If you need to bring someone with you to court like a case manager or a family member it was written in the questionaire I had to fill out online.
The judge was given a letter from my psychologist stating that I was unable to work because I was in intensive outpatient care at the psychologists office and that I was a good candidate for SSI. The judge read the letter and told me not to move to expect a letter in the mail in 7-10 days with a determination. In about 5 days I got a letter in the mail it was my award letter. I had to go to the social security office which used to be located on 55 west 125th but moved to 209 west 127th street and 7th ave.
When I went that Monday morning to to the social security office I learned that I would only be getting paid $421 a month but if I brought a letter back from my mother stating I was paying utilities I would get the full benefit amount of $733. So I came back with a letter from my mother, and they called her to verify. So once a month on the first I was getting $733 a month. I got retro active pay in a span of 6 months I got a deposit in my td bank account for $3600 I gave my mother half, the $3200 then another $3600 dollars. I gave my mother half of all the back pay. I spent the rest of it on clothes for myself and my daughter and bought a phone. My mother already had ATT so she let me get an iPhone and the cell phone bill was my responsibility. My son was starting high school and needed a phone so my mother took him to ATT and got him an iPhone. He was attending Essex street academy in china town. So I had 3 phone lines that I was responsible for paying. The bill was $125 a month.
I was feeling myself. I had an iPhone and Elaine had just moved to jersey city she had had her second child and was goin through a divorce. She had an iPhone and we would face time each other and talk all the time. My son said to me its business phone Im not doing anything why did I have an iPhone. When he started high school is when things begin to change between him and I. He was more arrogant and told me about myself more then one occasion. He was acting out and smoking weed by the 9th grade and hanging out with older boys from the building. But what could I do, his father wasn’t around. He was still a good kid but our relationship was rocky. I was only good on the first of the month I got paid, he would hit me up for money so he could go out with his friends.
Before ATT had grandfathered back in unlimited everything we where on a data plan. So the bill was always escalating. The bill rose to $300 and thats when My son was in the 11th grade and started working for insomnia cookies. So my mother and I switched to Sprint and got new iPhones and my son had ATT which he paid his $90 bill with his pay check. I thought if I could show him responsiblity it would be to pay his own cell phone bill, but most of the time my mother paid it because he was always using his money to buy weed and fix his bike at the bike shop. If it wasn’t the tires it was the spokes.
By the time My daughter was in kindergarten the sprint bill was almost $500 a month, because I added tablets and I had a subscription to beats music. I had $75 dollars left after all my little bills where paid, and the laundry still hadn’t been washed. My mother was paying to wash my laundry.
My daughter got left back in kindergarten, she was being tested for a learning disability by the school, but they wanted to wait until she was in the first grade.
We had switched from time Warner cable to Verizon fios and I had Verizon fios put in my name so I could have a bill in my name so when I went to the DMV for my state Identification I could prove my address. I was still using a passport, and I had a ticket in my name for not wearing a seat belt, even though I had just taken it off when I was parked in front of the building after coming home from a lousy date, where I was date raped. He had made me drink his seaman after a blow job. then drove me back home and treated to leave me on a road in Queens, but ended up driving me home and getting a speeding ticket, and I got a ticket for not wearing a seat belt. I met the guy on black planet. And I was also Cat fished. It wasn’t the same guy from the pictures, but I still went on the date. I ended up getting pregnant and having an abortion.
I was always with out money by the time I got my SSI. I was good for a couple of months but when we switched from time Warner to Verizon fios I was always broke. My mother never asked me to contribute to the house hold because I was bringing the food stamps. I was putting food on the table. By the time I got my SSI I was up for recertification, I had to bring my award letter and a copy of the rent to recertification on 125th street. I wasn’t off zyprexia but my doctor had recalibrated my medication intake and instead of 25 milligrams I was put on 15 milligrams which helped. I was able to get up in the morning and take my daughter to school.
So it wasn’t until I started seeing my therapist and psychologist once month that I decided to go back to school. I only had had one problem with SSI which brought me to their offices they said I was over paid and they didn’t pay me one month, but quickly fixed the problem and the next day I was issued my money.
It was 2016, I enrolled at empire beauty school. Determined to get off Welfare and Close my ssi case and have a normal job, I was seeing my therapist and pscyhologist the entire time I was in school. I had to leave early on the day I had to travel from 34th Street to 114th on the 1 train. When I graduated I won award for time management. I had 98% attendence. I was at school by 8:30 am every day after dropping my daughter off at school, I was paying for after school which my mother took over payments because I couldn’t keep up with it and the cell phone bill.
I wanted a career not just a job. I was in deferment with my student loans so when I got approved for financial aid I was too happy. I got a pell grant to pay for school, which meant I got a check once a month from the bersus office of $225.
I was feeling myself, but panicked every time I got on the train. I would have to tell myself that I was just going to school. I was just taking the train, I would listen to music while on the train so I wouldn’t have to hear other peoples conversations.
I had already been receiving SSI for 4 years. So when I started School, I met Tamara, who owned a beauty salon on 106th and Columbus ave. She drove a Mercedes Benz and lived in the Bronx. I got her name and number from one of Elaines friends named Faye. I decide to have my hair cut into a pixie. My hair was pretty long about shoulder length, I had it relaxed and cut into the style I desired. I decided that shorter hair would be easier. And this was a sign I know now that when I do something dramatic its my bipolar acting up. I paid $85 dollars to have my hair done. Not thinking of the cost for up keep. I had bought all new clothes in black for school, and I had a disablity metro card in place which Natasha had taken me to Water street by the ferry to apply for before graduating out of post graduates. I no longer needed case management. I had case management for almost 3 years.
So I would put $35 dollars on my metro card which allowed me to ride the train for $1.35 per ride instead of $2.25 per ride. And that was for the month to get back and forth to and from school. I brought my lunch from home because there where micro waves or I bought lunch out or I didn’t even eat lunch when I was in school. It all depended on how much money I had.
So When I recertified with SSI for snap benefits, recertification was now every year, and not every 6 months. But thats all I had was snap and SSI. It wasn’t until I was in school that I learned section 8 was closed in New York City, but you can apply for section 8 outside of New York City there was a website with an online portal for the application process.
It wasn’t until after I resigned from the dry bar and go fired from manicube that I applied for welfare one last time. My son was 20 years old and my daughter was going on 10. Because he was working I had to put him on the budget and when he refused to go to orientation I decided that If I couldn’t get cash assistance then my mother couldn’t get the rent check. I don’t know why she let me have a bank account in her name but I guess she trust that I was make lucrative money reselling on mercari, which I was. I had made $600 and gave it to her. I also made made $100 dollars her and there, but I was selling off prized possestions like Beats head phones and video games and gently used clothes.
So I would check the mail, and take the checks and deposit them into the checking account at bank of America the bank I choose to open in her name. I would forge her signature and keep the $145 every two weeks.
My cash assistance was $145 every two weeks and that was with going to child support court. I was given $75 every two weeks from my daughters father but it went into arrears. I had gone to court 7 times, because William, my daughters father was scheduled for a phone conference from Pennsylvina. Then I had found a way to sign out of going to see my psychologist and therapist, so I was on my own.
I only collected 4 checks then cut off welfare after I was done with court. I went to reapply for just snap benefits. I ran into a snag, because my son was working I would still have to include his income on my budget. He was working for cash and didn’t get pay stubs. So I quickly learned that Even being head of household on the budget I was responsible for him under the same roof until he was 27 years old. I could no longer get food stamps. And I tried. I used the app and I went to the office and They wouldn’t let me get snap benefits.
This is when things took a turn for the worst and I let my daughter stay home for a week and an acs investigation was done on me and I was evicted from my mothers apartment. There was nothing but arguing going on, it was a span of couple of days when I found out the bad news about my snap benefits and when I got kicked out that when I tell you I was hearing voices I was hearing voices.
They where coming out from the Television. I was talking to myself. I thought I was in the FBI witness protection program and I thought Diddy was talking to me though the camera portal in the television.
I had bought a pit bull I named Harlow and brought her home. I told my mother she was a gift from a friend for when I move to Cohoes New York. I had a year on the waiting list for public housing. That didn’t mean I got the apartment it just meant to meet with the housing specialist for choice voucher. I called myself crate training the puppy and even though they fell in love with Harlow she is what broke the straw on the camels back.
I was sharing the master bedroom with my daughter at this point. My mother was in the living room. We decided to switch rooms because my son was coming home from work late and I didn’t want his noise to interfere with my daughters sleep for school, and with him leaving his bike in the living room, my space, there was nothing but arguing going on. So my mother suggested that we switch rooms, and that allowed me and my daughter more privacy. We had maintenance come up and help us rearrange the rooms.
So now its been a year. I don’t know how I made it living on the street for 3 months, that sleeping in a gazebo was the best memory I have from being in the street. I spent my days walking back and forth, stealing from dune Reade and spending my day in the time Warner shops building. People where giving me food and helping me with money they knew I was homeless. I was in central bookings to prove my identity and also for shop lifting. Being thrown out of mcdonlads and arrested for loitering. And with in a year and half managed to get my SSI back and now have to worry about my future. Im facing jury duty when I move and learning how to travel the Bronx is a big deal. And I thought I would have been able to make it on $733 with my daughter, even though she started receiving benefits.
I applied for Buffalo, Newark ny, tarry town, Florida, Massachustes, ohio, main, Vermont and some other places. How was I going to get there? I couldn’t afford a seat on a plane to and from. I didn’t know how to get am track. I also applied for Newark New Jersey housing development.
I went so far as to research mitchellama apartments in Manhattan down loaded and printed the application and sent it off by mail just so I could have my own apartment. I didn’t have money for furniture or a cup to drink out of. I didn’t know that when you move you have to go to the DMV and get a new identification with your new address on it. I didn’t know when you move you have to tell social security administration that you have a lease if your receiving benefits. I have to find the snap office for my location when I move. I have a lot on my plate to think about. I might end up in a group home.
So now this month is the first month I actually got paid from SSA, and I got May and June in one check on my direct express card. So when I got SSI the first time, I literally didn’t know how to act. And I was hospitalized also. I have been in the psych ward so many time that each time I was admitted the staff remembered my name.
The longest time I was in the hospital was right before I made it to Franklyn woman assessment shelter. I was hospitlized for two months, and all the while I was in the hospital I was hearing voices. I was counting security cameras to see if and when Diddy logged in to check on me. I was having conversations with myself about remember I had the eee pc, (the mini laptop my father bought me) and the poetry I wrote.
I also spent my time in the library pretending to read the boring selection of books they had in the hospital, not once did I ask about being discharged. I felt safe in the hallways of the psych ward. I was given 3 meals a day and I had a shower and note book to write my poetry in, in pencil.
I remember when I was living on the street, I had gotten food poisening. I was on 98th and Columbus ave inside star bucks. someone had given me $20 to get something to eat, so I got a Starbucks sandwich and a frapachino. I stayed until they closed. So I quickly went down the block to Petco and locked myself in the bathroom and spent the night in Petco. I was vomiting all night. It wasn’t until the manager of the store came to open up the store at 7am that she checked the bathroom and found me in there and told me to leave before she called the cops on me. She had her phone in her hand and recorded me getting up off the floor and leaving. The only reason she knew I was there because Petco has motion detectors inside the store. So when my stomach had calmed down, I left the bathroom to look for something I could make a pillow out of so I could lay down and get some sleep.
I was delusional the whole time I was out on the street, I kept getting asked if I needed help. I turned away Goddard assessment team which came around in the vehicle to see if any body needed help with getting into a shelter. I didn’t know it was against the law to be homeless, thats when I was sitting in the train station the cops even told me if I didn’t have anywhere to go I could go to a shelter they would take me. I said I had someplace to go. I was planning on staying on the street. It wasn’t hard to come up off a couple of dollars. People where feeding me and I had made a friend at Lincoln square who was buying me lunch and giving me a coupe of dollars.
The mind of a a schizophrenic. I had slept in the rain one night in the gazzebo on 58th street. I slept under a tarp I stole from a cart park outside someplace, probably from a panhandler who left their cart outside. And I lucked out on a pack of cigarettes. There was a stray cat that came and made friends with me, not once was I thinking about home. I thought I would see my family again I just had to do this one thing to prove myself to The FBI that watching me in glass eye so I could be reunited with Diddy and I would be able to see my family again.
Its been a long year. Now I have much to face living alone for the first time. I have a lot to take care of. First is the loneliness, everything else will follow. I have to say I made my bed, now I have to lay in it. I can’t even say I blame myself, its my mental health that is at play. I have all the time in the world to become and be creative now that I have the things I need like a laptop tablet and phone. But I have a lot to face, one day at a time.