Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Getting Off SSI? Maybe...

So it's been a kinda crazy week. When it rains, it pours. First I got accepted to a screenwriting program at the College of Santa Fe - a lifelong dream come true, certainly - and then I saw the price tag.

$13K just seemed like an awful lot of money to try and borrow - particularly when you really live on a fixed income from Social Security. Rules say someone *can* loan me the money, even if I can't actually repay it. In other words, the loans would live under my parent's names, and if I didn't make as a screenwriter, I could mow lawns for the rest of my life trying to pay them back.

They were into it. Despite my mostly miserable track record (ha!) they still believe in me. I should say my mom does - my dad does too, but he probably wouldn't have helped - he's got a lot on his plate, but maybe he might've. In any case...

As I was trying to figure that out, I was Offered a Job. A real job. 40 hours a week. With a salary. And benefits. Paid vacation. Insurance. A fancy title. And more or less a dream job - doing what I already do but for people with Budgets and Bottom Lines and Business Sense. For a gallery, writing and marketing and all that good junk. A gallery with 60 artists and an 8000 -plus mailing listing and scores of regular buyers. Name artists. People I'd get to meet and talk to about their work. Ho-boy.

I had to take it - I had less than a day to decide - the owners were taking off to Art Basel-Miami the next morning. I panicked - fled to the casino to play penny slots (one of my weirder not-so-coping techniques) but stopped half-way there, called them, and accepted the gig. Then went out for drinks with friends, celebrating, chasing the numb and the tingly away. Ate a fattening dinner of chicken fried steak and went out to some club.

Today I met with my psychiatrist and my therapist, nervously wondering aloud if I'm actually sane enough to work. The big big issue, of course, is the insurance. Can I hang on to Medicaid for awhile if I get off cash benefits? Better still, since my doctor doesn't take the company's insurance, can I hang on to Medicaid after that? Going to Social Security tomorrow to ask. But here's some reassuring gobbledy-gook I found on the Social Security website:

  • Extended Medicare Coverage. Section 202 extends the period of premium free Medicare Part A coverage and requires consumer protection for some individuals with Medigap coverage. Individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance who elect to work above threshold levels (substantial gainful activity) can maintain their Medicare coverage for eight and a half years after they return to work.
Wonder if that's the way it really works. I sure hope so.

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