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So what happens to me?

I am a 44 year old man living in Colorado.  Despite my best efforts for many years, including graduating from a career school, I am still on SSI for disability reasons.  I'm not being choosy in any way.  Due to how employers react to my medical history, I literally cannot get a job making hamburgers at McDonalds.  

I get $700 a month, $545 of which is spent on rent.  Occasionally I make $200 or $300 from selling a story or temp work in transcription.  Forty of that goes to my version of a party, going out to eat and seeing a movie, and the rest disappears immediately.   My last asset is an expensive computer I got for school.  I use it all day and what little work I can do is performed on it.  If it breaks down, I will not be able to replace it.

I do also possess a mountain of student debt which I will obviously not pay off in my lifetime, as well as maxed out credit cards which I will eventually have to take care of through bankruptcy.  I have no prospects whatsoever.  

If a reasonable apartment appeared that I could move into to cut my rent, I wouldn't be able to go because I have no car and nothing for a deposit.  I have no family to rely on.  My internet access will probably dry up eventually, and I still have that because I'm going to try to sell an ebook with it.

Since nobody in the press is saying, I was hoping somebody hear could end the suspense and tell me what is going to happen if the Republicans keep going?  

I do not particularly want sympathy.  I definitely don't want anyone to sugar coat the truth.  If you know what will happen, please tell me.  I'm not just interested in my own benefits or the lack thereof.  I'm really wondering what will happen.

The strange thing about me these days is that I'm not panicking.  I did everything I was supposed to do, and I'm still drowning.  There's nothing to do now but keep writing, and stay here until something fails.  Perhaps there is no fear left in me.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Think You Keep Receiving Your Benefits (6+ / 0-)

    from information I've heard more than once. It may not be possible for new applications for SSI benefits to be processed.

    There are plenty of other effects of shutdown that could bite you, directly or indirectly.

    Aside, are you sure you need an expensive computer if what you're doing for hire is writing? I bought a refurbished office desktop now probably 7-8 years old several years ago for under $300 and still use it running XP. It'll view videos, even edit videos with modest software, play audio and record and mix & edit audio. Word processing and email, it can do with one chip tied behind its back.

    You probably should look around at possible charity sources for computer replacement well in advance, because the computer will fail sooner or later.

    Best of luck in all this for you.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:29:41 PM PDT

    •  I got the expensive computer (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh, Pariah Dog, PeterHug

      for school, which involved more then transcription.  At this point I'm going to keep it because I can't get an appropriate amount of money for it.  I actually had an ipad which I sold back to Apple.

      I'll look around for a cheap replacement, but I'm not looking forward to doing it.

      Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

      by martianexpatriate on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:11:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not trying to be a smartass (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        flowerfarmer

        because I'm in a situation similar to yours (without the student debt), 62, on a smaller SS income than yours, and working on a 12 year old IBM running Win 2K.

        I don't worry too much about the day this comp breaks down because I have an IBM I bought in 1997 that's still going strong. But I do worry about a coming time when it can no longer handle the increasingly intensive developments on the net. My old Win '95 machine has been a glorified word processor for over a decade now, because there's no way it couyld handle what the net would throw at it these days.

        Big Black is going to need replacing one of these days though. So, despite my meager resources, every time I have a spare couple of bucks, I set them aside in a computer replacement fund. Then, and this is the important part - I forget about that stash.

        No, it's not easy to ignore spare cash in crunch times, but I've learned to do it over the years of scraping by. Somehow another solution to using it in emergencies always makes itself available - even if it's redefining "emergency."

        Best of luck to you my friend, oh, and I agree that SSI checks will keep coming just as they did the last time they shut down the gummint. But if Rethugs hang asshole on the debt ceiling we could have a problem.

        Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

        by Pariah Dog on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 05:46:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You qualify for HUD housing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pariah Dog

          since you are receiving SSI.
          The rent is 1/3 of your income and the apartments must be of a high standard.

          HERE

          HERE

          HERE

          AND HERE

          You are more likely to find a place quickly if you apply in very rural or less centrally located areas.

          Obviously, this is somewhat beside the point of your diary but having some control over your overhead is a great relief for the future.

          'A scarlet tanager broke the silence with his song. She thought of the bird hidden in the leaves somewhere, unseen but nevertheless brilliant red. Nevertheless beautiful.' Barbara Kingsolver/ Prodigal Summer

          by flowerfarmer on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 07:11:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Here is one example in Castle Rock (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pariah Dog

            of senior/disability housing.

            All HUD senior housing is also applicable for people receiving disability and the rents are cheaper than low income or section 8 housing.

            This place looks ok...

            Reyn Rock Plaza

            Bankruptcy is a viable course of action and will take that thousand pound weight off your shoulders.

            Also, as an aside, desktop computers are very easy to find cheaply- i got mine for 20 bucks at a church yard sale- runs XP - and i got an upgraded 18" old-style Viewsonic monitor and Cambridge Soundworks speakers free on craigslist.

            'A scarlet tanager broke the silence with his song. She thought of the bird hidden in the leaves somewhere, unseen but nevertheless brilliant red. Nevertheless beautiful.' Barbara Kingsolver/ Prodigal Summer

            by flowerfarmer on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 07:32:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I'm only guessing based on what I think I read (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Limelite

    about past shutdowns, but I think checks would be delayed.  Hopefully someone else can provide a more certain (and more positive) result.

    I do want to mention a site I just discovered the other day.  I receive a dozen or more job search alerts each day and one job in one list the other day whose link I clicked on brought me to elance.com

    there are hundreds (thousands?) of freelance opportunities on this site.  the site apparently takes almost 9%, however, if you come to an agreement on a job and have it in writing that you will receive a certain amount, i think the one posting the job would have to pay that fee over and above your pay.  

    I'm not sure how many of the jobs listed are reasonable options, but it is probably worth checking out (and do check the fine print on that fee too!)

    "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

    by MRA NY on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:30:00 PM PDT

    •  Elance takes the fee out of what they pay you. (4+ / 0-)

      I worked through elance, but when people in Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan offer bids of $1 to $3 per hour (for a highly skilled job), it becomes very difficult to make any sort of money.

      However, it can be better than nothing if nothing is what you are currently getting. It can be annoying when you make a perfectly acceptable bid (and a reasonable price) and the client doesn't bother to either cancel the project or respond. There was even one client who wrote that if he wanted to pay minimum wage, he would hire a college student rather than pay someone locally for the quality of work he wanted.

      You also have the option of free (10 bids per month) or various levels of pay options (more bids per month that roll over - free doesn't roll over the bids you have remaining each month).

      Be careful with some of the ads. They sound good, but when you reply, you get someone who responds back with something different. I sent in a complaint on one of those offers and it turned out that something that was perfectly up my alley was really a scam.

      Good luck.

      I reject your reality and substitute my own - Adam Savage

      by woolibaar on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:08:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They were only delayed because (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      flowerfarmer

      during past Rethug shut downs they still mailed checks to people. Now it's all done via automatic direct deposits and is thus less labor intensive. So, unless the Boner & The Boys manage to turn off the electricity too, SS benefits, SNAP etc. will be okay.

      Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

      by Pariah Dog on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 05:52:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like your diary. This is important. Please keep (11+ / 0-)

    posting so all of us know what is happening. Sounds to me like you are someone like the famous  "canary in a coal mine."

    What happens to you may--a few months later--happen to me.

    As a member of this community please ask for help (internet service---whatever) if you need it.

    The right of the women of this State to be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches shall not be violated by the State legislature.

    by Mayfly on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:32:22 PM PDT

  •  Nothing is going to happen. SSI comes out of a (4+ / 0-)

    trust fund which the Congress doesn't need to appropriate.
    The debt limit is an arbitrary number cooked up by Congress. If they wanted as many dollars coming back as revenue as they sent out as spending, they should set the tax code appropriately. The people who lend our dollars back to the Treasury don't need the interest payments; all they need is for their dollars to be safe. And they are, because the Treasury can always issue more.
    If worse comes to worst and checks are a few days late, write out a personal IOU for whatever you owe and assure your creditors you'll hand over certified IOUs when they come in. Because, you know, that's all a dollar is -- a certified IOU, sort of like a marriage certificate.

    The debt ceiling isn't the real problem, anyway. The problem is that Congress has to appropriate dollars for the executive to spend. If they don't do that timely, the President can declare an emergency, order Congress to shelter in place and lock the doors on the Capitol until they finish their work. If the President can call Congress back into session, he can make them stay until they finish what needs to be done.
    And we need to take names and fire all the lay-abouts.

    •  Actually, no. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh, hannah

      SSI, or Title XVI, payments come out of general revenue. Title II disability payments, which are based on past income, come out of a trust fund. That doesn't mean, however, that SSI benefits will stop if there's a shutdown.

    •  Hannah, you paint a rosier picture (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh, Pariah Dog

      than most economists and I do hope you're right on. IANAE (economist) but the dire predictions coming along make us fearful of the worst case scenario. OTOH, it'd be music to ears to hear the howling from inside the House chambers if BHO actually did lock the doors and only allow entry & exit of pizza deliveries until the Dems battered the RWNJ's into submission. Somebody please set up microphones outside and stream the cacophony.  

      ~~~~~~_/)~~~~~~...ready about...helm's alee...

      by sailboatslave on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:09:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are confusing 2 things (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      viral, hannah, Limelite

      The government shutdown will happen if there is no authorization to spend, I.e., no budget or continuing resolution. That will hurt the economy, and some checks will be late, if the shutdown lasts into the next check-issuing.

      The debt ceiling limits the ability to issue bonds to pay for the authorized expenditures, from past Congressional budgets that said "Spend this much and collect this much revenue." In other words, Congress already voted to spend the money and to collect less revenue, so they authorized the borrowing. It's exactly like you already ate the meal, and now here's the credit card bill. Of course you have to pay it.

      The big deal about the debt limit is that if it is reached, then the Treasury does not have the authority to pay anything, not interest on bonds, not bills from contractors, not payroll for military and civilian employees, NOTHING.

      This trashes world markets, and risks all kinds of horribleness.

      It is Not true that Treasury can just print the money.

      So the shutdown is bad, and how bad depends on how long,  but hitting the debt limit is catastrophic, immediately, and introduces all kinds of weird into global economics.

      We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

      by Urban Owl on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:55:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Treasury can issue dollars to the Federal (0+ / 0-)

        Reserve and then the Federal Reserve pours them ($85 billion a month) into the economy by buying up bonds. So far, Wall Street just keep using those dollars to inflate stocks that don't add anything of value to the economy. How much longer are they going to do that? How much longer will it take for them to catch on that playing volleyball with dollars is not getting them anywhere?

        •  No, sorry, just not true (0+ / 0-)

          I suggest you read Paul Krugman's blog, he explains macro really well.

          The Treasury has nothing to do with the Fed' bond- buying.

          The Fed can't buy bonds the Treasury can't issue, and the debt limit means the Treasury can't issue any more bonds, I.e., can't borrow.

          This is a real crisis.

          We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

          by Urban Owl on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 04:57:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  SSI (5+ / 0-)

      SSI is not from the same fund as SSDI. SSI comes out of the general fund that is affected by Congressional game playing. It is SSDI that comes out of a secure fund that may not be affected.

      I too am somewhat nervous because I'm on SSI also. Since I live in North Carolina, which has decided not to pick up the Medicaid expansion, I don't know what's happening with health care in this state.

      Anybody on SSI has to be careful about working. All but the first $20 is taken out of SSI benefits. Most of the people I've met who worked got paid in cash, which is more fluid and harder to track.

      I ask everybody's prayers and good wishes go out for those of us on government assistance programs. We live so close to the line that what some people consider a nominal expense can be a relatively high percentage out of our budget.

      •  Yes, the shadow or cash-based economy has grown to (0+ / 0-)

        about $2 trillion a year. That was about the size of the entire health care expenditures when we started talking about universal care in 2004. So, the shadow economy is not chicken feed. Indeed, it is probably because there's $500 billion that's not flowing into the Treasury as working people's taxes that the Republicans are so irate. No matter how much they tighten the purse strings, people survive and the cash economy grows and the people refuse to comply with what Congress has told them to do.
        What's to be done? The beatings will continue until morale improves.
        Then too, the recipients of cash payments -- i.e. the people on Social Security, state pensions, disability payments and unemployment compensation -- are the conduit whereby this cash flows into the shadow economy. They are out of control!!!! That simply cannot be tolerated. Not to mention that these people aren't going to vote right come next election. Not to mention that these people are sending five and ten dollar donations to political candidates. Better they buy lottery tickets!

        We, the people, have the upper hand. Why? Because we have skills other than the gift of gab. If Teddy Cruz doesn't get pait for his oratorical contributions, what's anybody going to hire him to do? Perhaps his dad can make him an associate pastor.
        Have a little pity, why don't you?

  •  Alex, I'll take nothing for $1,000...Heh N/T (0+ / 0-)

    "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

    by EdMass on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:53:42 PM PDT

  •  I thought I understood the question until I read (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, Oh Mary Oh, Limelite, flowerfarmer

    the answers. I thought you were asking about the debt ceiling not being raised. That would constitute a default. The government shutdown is a different matter. We've had a shutdown recent enough for memory. I have no idea what happens if we default on our debt. All the economists say it will throw us back into recession, or something equally dire. How that impacts SSI, I don't know. I assume the government will be able to pay everything for which they have money, and that's it. They won't be able to borrow any more. As a Social Security recipient with no other source of income, I guess I should be worried as well. But I refuse to worry until it happens. The Repukes can't be that dumb.

    Also, if you do file bankruptcy, include your student debt. There is a hardship exemption and you would most likely qualify. There is plenty of information about it online. Find recent cases where hardship relief was granted, and compare them to your situation to get a feel for what's acceptable. It's best to use cases decided in your circuit (like NM is the 10th Circuit) Those will mean the most to your bankruptcy judge. Good luck.

    •  We may still be able to borrow but... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HappyinNM, viral

      not on nearly as good terms as we can right now. After all, if a deadbeat comes to you and wants to borrow money, you may still be inclined to lend to them but the interest rate is gonna be sky high just to price the risk in. I presume this would result in an overall hike in interest rates. And possibly in inflation too.

      •  No, we can't legally borrow (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HappyinNM, viral, Limelite

        Until the debt limit is raised. If we have even a few days of default, then we would expect interest rates to be higher on future borrowing, yes.

        Inflation is less likely, because the economy will tank.

        A big risk of default is that the global markets will start using other currencies as the global standard. The absence of a single standard currency would be a bad thing, and the instability of various countries angling to be the next big thing would also be bad.

        Default caused by stupid political tricks is without precedent. Not a good experiment to run.

        We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

        by Urban Owl on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 08:01:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks. (0+ / 0-)

        I'm either not reading the right things, or not listening to the right shows, because everyone says it's dire, but goes no further. I assumed the higher interest rates. But I'm not sure what would cause inflation. I thought inflation was caused by high demand/low supply. I need to go read.

        •  Well assuming we can borrow after raising the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          viral, HappyinNM

          debt limit, the interest rate will go up. That means other interest rates will go up. When interests go up, businesses that rely on short-term borrowing will find their costs increasing and that increase will be passed off to consumers.

          •  cost increasing.... (0+ / 0-)

            but since their customers won't have money to burn, the owners will be motivated to call their Congressmen.

            Likely it'll go the other way.  Since everyone will expect the economy to tank, no one will compete for funds and interest rates will go even further down.

            Deflation is a strong possibility.

            In the end, we'll all survive and nothing will be learned.

            "Our problem is not that the glass is half empty or half full, but that the 1% claims that it is their glass." ---Stolen from a post on Daily Kos

            by jestbill on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:04:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know if you'll read this since it's been (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            flowerfarmer, JamieG from Md

            10 hours since you posted. However, last night Rachel mentioned the section of the Constitution (14th amendment) that says the US has to pay it's bills, meaning the President can act alone if the Congress can't do it. This morning, Sen Tim Kaine, good bud of the pres, quoted the same portion. I now think the President plans to use that and raise the ceiling himself. At this point, it seems the shutdown is inevitable though.

            •  I have read it. (0+ / 0-)

              At this point, it feels like the Republicans are just going to keep doing this again and again.  It feels like they are exploiting a weakness in our government in such a way that can potentially bring disaster on us.

              At this point, I wish that Obama would exercise that option and just state that the part of the constitution you mentioned justifies it.  It's necessary.

              Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

              by martianexpatriate on Sat Sep 28, 2013 at 07:22:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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