Throughout my years in the American workforce I paid into FICA (Social Security) and federal income taxes for 34 years. After a couple starter jobs I spent a decade with the United Steelworkers Union as a lead man in the top production crew making sheet and plate titanium. During a layoff I ended up in Navy bootcamp at the age of 30 and was in the Persian Gulf at the end of the Iran Hostage crisis. In the fleet I maintained fresh water and service steam systems. After leaving the Navy I was with the second largest water treatment company in the world, Ionics Inc. I worked my way up to plant manager of their Charlotte, NC bottled water facility. After 11 years I left there for a position with the City of Charlotte at the Walter M. Franklin water treatment plant, a 192 million gallon a day, state of the art plant. This is where I was working when I went for my 50 year physical exam. Bloodwork and a biospy showed my liver was under severe attack and I was put on a heavy chemical regimen that made me extremely ill and dropped my weight from 220lbs. to 125lbs. at my lightest.
Once I realized how serious the situation was I applied for Social Security Disability. I received a reply stating I was indeed disabled but was denied because I had too many assets. I had already used the largest portion of my life savings and was looking for income. About 2 years after I was completely penniless my claim was approved. I had only been denied that first time, they just took no action. The judge that approved my claim was appalled that the Social Security Administration took so long to act on a claim from an applicant over 55 with 34 continous years of employment. He ruled that I was 100% disabled due to a condition that ends in death. They were waiting to see if I would die!
Being so sick I did what I had to do to keep the house going. I kept the lights and heat on through a program called the Percentage of Income Program ( PIP ). There were food vouchers from the Veterans Administration and free canned food and dry goods from the Urban Mission. The gas and electric help was not what these monopoly type companies could afford. I have paid back almost $5000.00 to the gas company at $480.00 a month for 10 months and am in the process of paying back the electric company. At least they were big enough not to both hit me at the same time.
All that is really nothing if you consider what is ongoing. They knock you down pretty hard by making you spend every penny you have before they’ll give you your own money you paid into for 34 years. They really put the boots to you if you own your own home with property tax. When I got my 2 year back pay I was taking care of high end bills like a new roof and other things you will never have enough money for again. While getting caught up on past due property taxes I asked about paying on a monthly basis which would be easiest. They bill every 6 months which is a little over $1000.00 and my monthly income is $1300.00. The answer was no, I have to pay semi-annually which of course takes nearly my entire check. With this giant bill hitting twice a year it’s easy to see how much room is left for car insurance, house insurance, gas, electric and water, not to mention food and other unforeseen expenses. If I hadn’t been forced to exhaust my life savings before I was permitted to have an income this could be possible.
Then I thought there might be a little relief when a friend told me I should be eligible for the Homestead Act property tax exemption. I wondered why they didn’t tell me about this at the tax office, then realized upon reflection how unhelpful they had been up to this point. I looked it up on the internet to see that they were permitted to subtract up to $25000.00 from the value of your home and tax you on that amount. The average person in Ohio saves $400.00 a year according to their website. When my property tax bill arrived I was flabbergasted. They deducted $164 a year or $82.00 off each semi-annual extortion. I now have letters to the state dept. of taxation, my congressman and the Governor while I try to figure a way to supplement my income.
There’s more about this on Begslist titled, “Not Enough Money to Keep Home and Pay Bills”.