As most of you know our daughter, Shantel, lost both eyes to cancer when she was two years old. If you follow my blog you also know how hard she has worked to become a strong, independent, contributing member of society. She is entitled to receive Social Security Disability benefits (which isn’t even enough to pay the rent and utility bill for her small one bedroom apartment), and she receives a small ($77.00) monthly food allotment which she can only use for what she can eat. She cannot buy personal care items, cleaning items etc. Only what she can consume… I don’t know how they expect anyone to live on that… And for those that say “get a job” well, again if you read and/or follow my blog, you also know how hard Shantel works at trying to “get a job”. She has two college degrees, and a licence to sell health, life, and medical insurance in the state of Arizona, and still she can’t get a full-time job even answering phones in a Call Center… But, Shantel is determined that she is not going to live on Social Security benefits for the rest of her life. She is tenacious, and she never gives up. She recently was offered a sessional position in a Call Center working through the end of the year, helping people choose the Medicare plan that is right for them… She gave up her Social Security benefits and food allotment card when she accepted this temporary position hoping it will turn into a full-time job, but if not, at least it will give her more work experience for her resume…

Bill and I could not be more PROUD of how hard Shantel works to be independent, and it just absolutely breaks my heart when I hear how sometimes people that she is forced to depend on to get her to and from work, to and from the grocery store etc. can sometimes be so unkind.

Shantel uses Dial-a-Ride when she can, meaning if she has the time to schedule Dial-a-Ride in advance… But, sometimes she is forced to use other transportation services like cabs, which are very expensive, so she recently started using Uber which only charges her $11.00 to take her to work and $11.00 to take her home from work as opposed to paying $28.00 for the same distance using a cab. And the $11.00 charge for Uber includes the tip!

Shantel told me Uber offers two types of services. Regular Uber and Uber assist. Uber assist drivers are trained to help people with disabilities and are required to offer to walk a blind person to their door. The only drawback to using Uber assist is that like Dial-a-ride, there is a bit of a wait time if you can’t schedule the service well in advance… Regular Uber drivers are not “required” to walk customers to the door. However, Shantel told me that every time she has used the regular Uber service, the driver has always offered to walk her to her door which she very much appreciates. One of the regular Uber drivers even told her that if she can’t get Uber assist in a timely manner not to worry about it because most regular Uber drivers will get out and assist a blind or disabled person to their door. He went on to say “if they don’t then they have to be a complete moron…”

Why am I sharing all this with you, you might ask? Well last week, Shantel was called into work early so she had no choice but to call the regular Uber service to take her to work. When she got off work that day, she needed to stop at the grocery store to get her food for the following week. She called the regular Uber service to take her from work to the grocery store. That driver walked her into customer services where she asked for someone to help her select her groceries. Then, after she purchased her groceries, she called for Uber assist but was told she would have a long wait time. Since she had some cold and frozen food in her bags she decided to call the regular Uber service. That driver, a woman, picked her up at the grocery store, drove her to her apartment complex and told her the ride was over and she needed to get her groceries and leave the car. Shantel asked the driver if she would help her to her door, which is approx 75 yards from the parking lot (not a real long way, but a long way for a blind girl carrying four bags of groceries, her purse, lunch bag, and trying to use her long cane…). The driver told Shantel it wasn’t her job to help her to her door and that if she wanted that kind of service she should have called Uber assist!

Now, I understand that that Uber driver wasn’t “required” to help Shantel…or any other disabled person… But for the love of God, what happened to kindness, understanding, empathy, and compassion for our fellow human beings…?

Both Bill and I have spent most of our lives doing things that “were not our jobs”, or were not our responsibility etc., but we always try to step up and do the right thing when we see someone in need.

I can’t even begin to explain how it made me feel when Shantel told me how hard it was for her to make her way to her apartment carrying four bags of groceries which made it impossible for her to use her cane so she had to try to follow the walkway with her foot until she got to her door. Then she had to put all the groceries down so she could find her key in her purse and open the door. Then she had to go back outside and try to make sure she found all her groceries off the door step because some food rolled out of the grocery bags… It broke my heart and still brings tears to my eyes as I write this just thinking about what all Shantel has to go through just to get through her day doing what so many of us take for granted.

I started writing this blog years ago, mainly for Shantel, as a way to document our lives for her so she can read back on our lives when I’m gone. Because of course, being blind, photo albums would be of no use to Shantel.. But sometimes, like today, I share this story as a way to bring awareness to others of the difficulties people with disabilities face each and everyday, and to perhaps encourage you, if you don’t already, to step up and do the right thing next time you see someone in need, even if it is not your responsibility. It costs nothing to practice kindness!

Stay Tuned!


This is a picture of our beautiful daughter, Shantel. For those of you that may not know, Shantel had cancer in both eyes and had to have both eyes removed when she was two years old, leaving her blind for life. Bill and I spent our lives helping Shantel accept her blindness, and learn to live blind in a sighted world. The beautiful smile you see on her face has never faded throughout all the years of challenges she faced and overcame. I never saw Shantel spend one minute complaining, or feeling sorry for herself, and she never wanted anyone else to feel sorry for her either.


Bill and I fought long and hard to ensure Shantel had everything she needed to get through her school years from Kindergarten through earning two degrees in College. We had to attend endless Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meetings, to get everyone on board with what would be expected of Shantel in the classroom, as well as what would be expected of the teacher, and the support team hired to braille Shantel’s books, worksheets, test papers, etc. All this was done to ensure Shantel’s rights were upheld in the classroom so she had a fair and level playing field to compete with her peers. I can tell you nothing we fought for, and won, to support her needs came easy, but neither Shantel, or Bill and I would ever give up.

Now, fast forward… Shantel is 23 years old, lives in her own apartment, and all Shantel wants is to obtain gainful and meaningful employment. She does receive Social Security Disability benefits which isn’t even enough to pay the rent on the one bedroom apartment she has, and she receives a very small food allotment card. Shantel could sit home and just draw her Social Security and food card benefits, but she wants to work. She spends her entire day applying for jobs, and going on interviews, only to be rejected over and over again. Keep in mind, she has not one, but two degrees, and can’t even get hired to work in a call center. All she needs to do a job working with computers is a voice over program installed that will read the information on the screen to her. Then she can do the very same job that any sighted person can do…

Finally, after months and months of searching, Shantel signed on with a temp staffing agency. The temp agency was able to get her a seasonal job in a call center not far from where she lives. Both the temp agency and the call center company know she is blind and agreed they could accommodate her needs with the voice over software. She is earning $14.00 an hour even as she goes through a six-week training class. Shantel was overjoyed to say the least. Of course she will need to give up her Social Security and food allotment benefits while she is working but she can have it reinstated if she gets laid off. She doesn’t even mind the fact that the training classes are from 4:00 p.m. till midnight which means she has to pay for a cab to take her home every night because Dail-a-Ride stops running at 10:00 p.m. I can tell you I pray her home every night because I’m so worried about her being out all alone at that time of night. Bill and I live over an hour and a half from Shantel or I would go pick her up and take her home myself.

When Shantel’s training class started, the very first thing she was told was that they did not have the voice over software installed on the computer she needs to use for training. They said it has been ordered but has not arrived yet. This is NOT good at all. Shantel cannot learn, and keep up with the class if she doesn’t have that software on her computer. The instructor told her to “just sit and listen and do the best she can to keep up… ” That is exactly the type of thing Bill and I had to fight the school system about when Shantel was still in school…. Promises made that were not kept and Shantel was the one that paid the price. As her mother, it just sends me over the top because it’s just not right!

I talked to Shantel yesterday, and she told me “mom, you’re not going to believe what happened last night at work.” I asked what happened, and she told me that the voice over software has arrived but now the ITD department said they are not going to install it twice which means they will not install it on the training class computer, only the production floor computer she will use once she completes her training.” Then she went on to say the training instructor said Shantel needs to repeat the six-week training class because if she goes out on the training floor at this point she will not be able to handle the call volume because she has not had a computer to practice on… Are you kidding me!! How is another six-week training class going to benefit Shantel if ITD won’t put the voice over software on the training class computer? I told Shantel to get a meeting with the training instructor and her supervisor/manager and the production floor supervisor/manager and ask if she can have someone on the production floor give her one-on-one training on the computer she will be using that has the voice over installed in it… I don’t know why, after all these years, it still amazes me that people that are managing companies, and people, can be so lacking in common sense!!

I asked Shantel if she thinks all she is going through to have this temporary job is worth it? Shantel said “mom, 70% of blind people never get a job, I’m going to be in the 30% of the blind people that do get a job. I don’t want to live on Social Security and food allotments, I want to be financially independent, and this job at least is paying me $14.00 an hour, and I’m hoping it just might work into a full-time position. But if not, at least I’m gaining more work experience…” My heart bursts with pride for her.

Papa and I love you Shantel, we are so VERY proud of you. You face more challenges in one day than many people face in a lifetime, and you never give up! YOU are our HERO!!!

Stay Tuned!

Getting Ready

If you follow my blog you know that my husband Bill and I are getting ready to retire. The original plan was to retire in January. That changed to April when Bill came home one day and said he is worn out and just wants to retire ASAP! With that, we decided we would put our house on the market in May, and as soon as it sells, we would buy our motorhome and hit the road on our way to becoming full-time RVers…

The first order of business for Bill was to get his Social Security and insurance plan all set up for him. Since he is already 66 years of age, he can continue to work full-time without penalties and still collect his Social Security checks… We also had to find a health care plan for me since I am only 63 and unable to get Medicare until I am 65. All of that is in the works now even as I am writing this post.

While all the insurance and Social Security business was going on, I was busy sorting through lots and lots of family photos and sending or giving them to family members I thought would be interested in having them. I’m almost finished with that. Only a few more family members to send photos to then I can mark that off my to-do-list…

I’ve also been very busy selling our furniture and personal belongings at cut rates to family and friends in an effort to have our house as empty as possible when it starts being shown to potential buyers. Most of our furniture and lots of our personal belongs sold within 45 minutes on the very first day.

Some rooms in our home now sometimes have an echo because all or most of the furniture and wall hangings have been removed. This is all that is left in the guest room I had fixed up so cute. That was Shantel’s dresser and yep, it’s got to go too!


Everything but this coffee table/storage chest is gone from our living room, and these few wall hangings.


My Brother, Danny and his wife Bea, bought the bulk of our wall hangings, and larger pieces of furniture. Danny is coming over Saturday morning to pick up this huge cabinet that was filled with crystal and liquor all of which was included in the price of the cabinet. Only for my Bro would I make a deal like that. He is going to paint the front panels in bright Mexican colors, put it on his patio, and use it as an outdoor bar! How fun!!!


Now all that remains in our living room is the china hutch filled with beautiful china and the dining room table which is all for sale as well. In fact whatever doesn’t sell to family/friends is going to be offered for sale to potential buyers of our house and/or sold in upcoming garage sales…


I’m moving the pub table out of the kitchen for showing the house, but of course, it is for sale as well.


All that is left of the furniture in the family room is the La-Z-Boy reclining sofa and rocking chair we just bought last April and are going to sell at a huge discount. So soft and comfortable, made from shredded leather. We just love it but…no room in our motorhome for that either. Even the wooden bench I use as a coffee table has to go…


I’m sorting out what I will take with us in the motorhome (which isn’t much) and boxing up all the rest of our personal belongings that will be sold in garage sales. These I will store in the garage until we decide on the date of the first sale.


As of this writing, things have change yet again… Bill said now he thinks he will continue to work until the house actually sells. I told him that was fine and that “the only thing standing between him and retirement, was him.” Because I’m sooooooooooooo ready… well, almost. We’re putting the house on the market in April now, a month earlier than the original plan, but that is fine with me… I’m on a mission and I’m getting ready to go follow our dream!

Stay Tuned!

Shredding The Past

After our daughter, Shantel, moved into her new apartment, I made a list of projects  I wanted to tackle. Things like shred all her High School individual education plans (IEP) papers, all emails regarding issues pertaining to follow-up issues when the IEP plans were not followed by the school and district, all court documents from when we had to take the school district to court to force them to adhere to the IEP as written, and all her college paperwork related to her special needs and accommodations… Oh what memories are held within those documents.

In addition, I am on a quest to shred all unnecessary papers related to my mother’s insurance and/or banking business as well as any and all unnecessary papers my husband, Bill and I have accumulated over the years. I have been told, by various people, that I am the “document queen.” and that served me well when I was fighting the school and district for Shantel’s rights, or taking care of my mother’s personal business etc. but now, I know I can free myself from the burden of managing all that paperwork. And it is very freeing to clear out all that paper. I have made a good size dent in the shredding project, but still have a lot of shredding yet to do… this could take weeks, and has become almost a full-time job.

I say almost a full-time job because the shredding project is just one of many projects on my “to do list.” In addition to shredding our past, I am also in the process of cleaning out closets and getting rid of anything and everything we don’t use and giving it all to Goodwill. I have the first Goodwill pick-up scheduled for tomorrow morning..

I also decided we no longer need the older refrigerator in the garage. We only used it to store drinks, and now that Shantel moved out, we don’t need to store all her soda’s, vitamin water, bottled teas etc. so I moved the beer and wine into our kitchen refrigerator, cleaned out the garage refrigerator, and scheduled it to be picked up by SRP’s recycling team on June 7th.

One reason it is taking me so long to complete my “to do project list”, is because I keep getting interrupted with things like Shantel calling to ask me to take her to get her groceries, and to spend the day with her at Social Security and DES offices. I can not believe how long it takes to get anything done at these government offices. Shantel had to go into the DES office to get finger printed before she could begin receiving services she has been approved to receive. We were told we needed to arrive at the office early as lines begin forming at daylight… I picked Shantel up at 5:30 A.M. and we arrived at the DES office by 6:00 A.M. The office doesn’t open until eight, but there were already 75 people in line ahead of us at 6:00.. are they kidding me? There was nowhere to sit down so we just had to stand in line outside the building in the parking lot. To make the time spent even more fun than I could have ever imagined… two LARGE pit bull dogs were running up and down the building terrorizing all of us. There was nowhere to go to get away from them and no one was going to step out of line for fear of losing your place…I mean these dogs were growling at us and just kept patrolling the line back and forth. One black man got so scared he started to run and the dogs started chasing him. OMG!!!  I was so scared they were going to come after Shantel and I, because they kept coming by and pushing up against Shantel’s cane. I kept trying to get between the dogs and Shantel but every time Shantel stepped behind me the dogs followed her..

Finally, the DES office opened and we were ushered inside to take a number, have a seat, and wait, wait, wait… After several hours, Shantel’s number was called, she was finger printed and we were on our way.. However, later that day, Shantel called me to say one of her Facebook friends said she and her daughter were at that same DES office in the afternoon and both she and her daughter were bitten by the pit bull dogs in the parking lot. An ambulance had to be called and both the mother and her child we taken to the hospital. Also animal control, which was contacted early that morning, eventually came and apprehended the dogs. All I can say is I was glad to get the hell out of there and hope I never have to go back..

The next day, I’m back to working on my projects when Shantel calls me to tell me her friend, Jaz, was at her apartment helping Shantel do her laundry at the apartment laundry room. As they were walking back to Shantel’s apartment, Jaz saw some kittens on Shantel’s patio. Jaz wanted to pet them but when she got close to them, they started hissing and swiping their claws at her. Jaz said the kittens were hanging around Shantel’s storage room door so she went over there and opened the door and found the mother and more kittens hiding behind the water heater. The mother cat started hissing and started towards Jaz so she slammed the door and started back into Shantel’s apartment. However, when she opened Shantel’s sliding patio door one of the kittens ran in and hid under the sofa. Jaz tried to get it out but it was hissing and making all kinds of noises at her. She finally was able to use Shantel’s cane and get it out from under the sofa and put a laundry basket over it but even with the laundry basket over it the kitten was running all around the room sliding the laundry basket with it… Jaz directed the kitten and basket towards the door and finally pushed the kitten out and shut the door… OMG!!! What next? Shantel called the Humane Society but was told they would not come out and trap the cats. They said Shantel would need to trap them and bring them into the Humane Society .I told Shantel she needs to call the office and ask if maintenance can come by with a net or something to get the cat/kittens out of her storage room because Shantel would have no way of knowing if one was by her door and would run into her apartment anytime she opened her door…

After all that excitement, as if I needed more… I went to visit my mother. I stopped by McDonald’s to get her a caramel frappe, but their frappe machine was broken so I ordered a chocolate milk shake thinking it would be a close second… NOT so much… Mom was excited to see me and very happy to see I brought her what she thought was a McDonald’s frappe. However, when she found out it was a milk shake she said she wasn’t hungry and didn’t want it…by this time I was too tired to care. I just thought to myself “if you knew what I’ve been through with pit bull dogs, and furrow cats terrorizing my daughter and I, you would just take the milk shake, smile and say thank-you, even if you threw it out after I left… Oh well, I tried… 🙂 🙂

Stay Tuned!

Mom’s Valentine

And other good things…

With all the craziness with my schedule over the past month, I had to tell my mother that I would need to change the day of my weekly visits with her. In fact, I had to tell her that I couldn’t commit to a day of the week when I can visit right now so I asked her if we could just leave it open to a surprise visit when I can work it in between appointments… She agreed, although she forgets from day-to-day what she agreed to and will ask her aid to call me to ask when I am coming to see her again…

So, after a very trying week with many, many, appointments… and still more to come…, I was so excited that my husband, Bill/Bro and I were able to grab a date hike on Sunday… I posted that on my Facebook status. It was fun to just get away with my best friend, who just happens to also be my husband… and be out in the great outdoors alone, where we could walk, talk, laugh, and just remember what it was like when we were foot loose and fancy free to do that at will… Not that I would take one minute away from our family life together with our daughter, Shantel, but still, it is sooooo nice when Bill and I can just get back to basics like we did years ago, and what better way than just a simple hike up a mountain, sit on the top of the mountain and enjoy an apple and a small handful of smoked almonds with a bottle of water… nothing fancy, but when you share it with the love of your life, I would take that over a trip around the world anytime…

Now, back to Mon’s Valentine… I drove Shantel to school yesterday morning, went to my weekly adoration chapel visit, then went to see my mother… When I arrived, she was in the dinning room eating lunch. I sat with her and her tablemate while they ate their lunches, then I pushed mom back to her room where I noticed every tabletop in her room is stacked high with “stuff”… Trust me this is just one picture of just one tabletop that has “stuff’ piled on top of “stuff”…


I asked mom if I could come back next week and go through all this “stuff” and take home what she doesn’t need to keep in her room everyday, like Christmas bags from last Christmas,  and even Easter decorations from who knows when… I also looked in her closet which can’t even be closed anymore because of all the “stuff”… Mom got upset and  said “absolutely not, I need all this and you are not going to change anything.” I said “ok, mom, I was just trying to help.”

After she decided she didn’t need me to help her clean up her room, I decided to change the subject by giving her the Dove’s heart-shaped chocolate, what used to be one of her favorites… I gave it to her early because I won’t be there on Valentine’s Day.


She did say thank-you, but added that she didn’t need any more chocolate because my brother, Danny, already gave her a HUGE chocolate bar last week, and my late brother, Stephen’s wife, had given her a box of chocolates not long ago…she said how much chocolate do you think I need…??  I said “Ok mom, I’m sorry I didn’t know… I try to keep reminding myself that it is the Parkinson’s talking and she doesn’t understand how some of the things she says comes across to others… Then I said hey, the weather is perfect outside, how about we go out in the garden and sit for a while? She agreed and off we went.”


As we sat in the garden, mom tried to tell me about my brother, Danny’s visit on Sunday, but she kept getting that story confused with the story she tried to tell me earlier about the care center getting a new computer system. She told me that Danny helped work on the computer system, of course he didn’t, what she was trying to tell me was Danny helped her with her bingo game….

I noticed a large glass jar of water with cups sitting on a table and asked mom if she wanted some water and she said yes. I put some water in a cup only filling it about half full because mom shakes so bad due to her Parkinson’s. I gave her the water, she took one sip then spilled the rest of the water all down the front of her. That upset her and she said she needed to go back to her room now and get changed. I told her it wasn’t that much water and it would dry in the warm afternoon sun, but she insisted she needed to get changed so off we went in search of an aid to assist her with her need to change her outfit…

By the time mom got settled again, it was time for me to leave so I hugged her and said good-bye reminding her I can’t say what day I would be back but just to know I would come back as soon as I could. She agreed and I left.

As I was walking out of the care center I was feeling a little drained and I said a little quick prayer asking God to help me find something to lift my spirits. When I got in my car, I look up and out the window and saw this beautiful tree in full bloom. Funny how I never even noticed it when I pulled into that parking space, but right when I needed it.., I noticed it in all it’s glory. Makes me wonder how many other beautiful things I’ve missed when I was focused on other things…?


Then, to add to my lifted spirit, when I got home I received a call from Social Security and was told I was approved to begin receiving my benefits in June. I’m taking my Social Security early to help Shantel through Grand Canyon University next year… But the even better news was that now, because Shantel was disabled before the age of 21, Shantel’s Social Security payments will go up because she will draw from my benefits… So we both won on this deal… Then, when my husband, Bill, starts receiving his Social Security, which will be a few years off yet… but when he does, Shantel will get another raise because she will draw off of Bill’s Social Security.

Counting my blessings…

Stay Tuned!

Just Let It Go

That was my mantra chant at the Social Security Office Monday.

You might remember I mentioned in a previous post that I lost my social security card, called the main social security office and was told I could go to any local social security office, show my state issued photo Id and I would be entered into the social security system and granted a replacement card that would arrive through the mail within two weeks…However, when I arrived at my local social security office, stood in line for forty-five minutes just to get in the door, sat for another twenty-five minutes before I was called to the back room, granted a brief audience with the not so nice lady who very quickly escorted me right back out of the social security office with the instructions to “read the sign”, that I missed on the way into the office, but that very clearly states “we do NOT do card replacement requests here…you must go to either the office in Central Phoenix or North Phoenix…” Not a good experience with my local government office at all…

Fast forward to Monday…my daughter Shantel and I arrive at the Central Phoenix Social Security Office at 8:15 and see a small line in front of a door with a sign above it that read “Social Security Court Services” and another sign that read “Social Security Services with an arrow pointing to a much longer line forming on the other side of the building…now I know for sure I don’t need the court services ,so naturally I decided I needed to get in the longer line which we did. We stood in that long line for forty minutes when finally, a security officer came out and asked if anyone in our line was there for a replacement card or to make a name change….I put my hand up along with several other people who were promptly told we need to be on the other side of the building where card services is located…Are you kidding me…? We all quickly ran over to the other side of the building where we saw the small line in front of the sign that read court services in very large letters…and notice a much, much smaller sign that read card services…but now, that small line is wrapped around the building and overflowing into the parking lot…no fricking way I’m thinking to myself…but, I stay calm and start to chant to myself “just let it go…, just let it go…”

After thirty-five minutes in this new line, Shantel and I are finally admitted into the building and directed to the second floor where I was given my number and told to take a seat which we did and waited another fifty minutes before I was called to window eighteen. Once we were seated in front of the woman at window eighteen she asked to see my state issued photo Id and I handed her my driver’s licence. Then she asked me to confirm my address and my mother’s maiden name and made me swear under penalty of jail if I lied that everything I said was true and I am who I say I am…I did, she approved my replacement card and we were on our way.

We, and everyone else in that room, were only in front of the people at window 1-18 for all of five minutes. I, and I’m sure many others, spent two days and endless hours of frustration,  miles and miles of driving, many dollars worth of gas, not to mention the  traffic we added on the streets and pollution added to the air just to take a state issued photo Id (which we all know can not be obtained illegally if anyone wanted to get one…) to one of two specific locations and show it to someone behind a window to approve we are really who we say we are…what a mess that system is for one and all…!

I, being the manager of the universe I think I have to be sometimes…did make a suggestion upon my departure from window eighteen…that perhaps someone could make the suggestion of dedicating two windows, within every Social Security Office, throughout the state, for replacement cards and name changes, instead of making everyone go to one of only two locations…now is it just me, or does that sound like a plan that just might actually work and make everyone’s life a lot easier when dealing with our Social Security System…? Or, should I “just let it go…”

Stay Tuned!

Long And Winding Road

That leads me back to your door…Remember that song written by Sir Paul McCartney? I believe I was actually on that road this week. So, if you’ve missed me and wonder where I’ve been, or why I haven’t done a blog post for a while, …read on…

It all started when I realized this past week that I somehow lost my social security card. Both my husband, Bill, and I searched this house high and low and even tore the car apart looking for it but it is nowhere to be found. So, I went on-line to see if I could apply for a replacement card. I completed the on-line form and noticed the instructions said you must either mail the form in with original birth certificate and state issued photo ID like my driver’s licence which they promise will be promptly returned to me (right), or you can bring the original documents in to your nearest social security office, unless you live in Phoenix, then you can only go to the downtown Phoenix Card Center & Office or the North Phoenix Card Center & Office. Neither of these choices are close to my house at all. But, wait…I don’t live in Phoenix, I live in Chandler so I should be able to go the local social security office not far from my house…but, since I’m very much a planner and don’t want to waste time running around where I don’t need to be…I decide to call social security and ask them to confirm that I can go to my local social security office to request a replacement card. I was so determined to make sure I had the correct information, I stayed on the social security phone line for seventeen minutes waiting for my call to be answered. And, sure enough, the nice lady on the other end of the phone assured me I could go to my local social security office, right by my house, but only if I was requesting a replacement card which I am… So all is good and I had a plan to stop by there on my way home from taking my daughter, Shantel, to school the next day.

The next day, I drop Shantel off at school and head straight for the social security office close to my home. I got there at 8:15 a.m. and they don’t open until 9:00 a.m. But, other people are starting to form a line at the door so I decide I better get in that line with them…apparently this is a very busy office.

While standing in line waiting to get in the social security office, a few people started talking about what a hassle it is to get anything done at social security. Different people were telling what they were there to do so I said “I lost my social security card and just need a replacement..” immediately, the lady in front of me said “you can’t get a card here, you have to go to one of the Phoenix offices” I told her I called and was told I could get my replacement card at this office. As we were discussing that, the security guard came out of the door with a huge sign and put it up a few feet away from the line we were standing in. Of course the lady and I were so focused on our discussion, we didn’t bother to look at the sign and then the security guard started letting us in the building…I got my number and took a seat. When my number was called I was escorted into a back room and asked how I could be helped. I said I need a replacement card and was immediately told “we don’t do replacement cards here, you have to go to one of the Phoenix offices…sorry but you will need to leave”. I started to tell the clerk that I called and was told I could get a replacement card at this office but she cut me off and said “I don’t care what you were told, we don’t do card requests here didn’t you read the sign outside the front door? Then she said “let me show you to the door”. How rude! As I was being escorted back out of the back office, the lady I was talking to in line that told me I couldn’t get a card here looked at me with that I told you so look and actually said “did you get your card”? I smiled and said “no, apparently I forgot something”.

When I got outside I ran right into the huge sign the security guard placed just outside the door…and sure enough it said in huge red letters NO CARD OR REPLACEMENT CARD REQUESTS ARE PROCESSED HERE. PLEASE TAKE THAT BUSINESS TO ONE OF THE PHOENIX OFFICES. Too bad they don’t post that sign in the call centers so the lady that took my call, and gave me the wrong information, could read it. Oh well, I just chalk it up to yet another bad encounter with Social Security Administration Offices.

When I got home I decided I couldn’t manage another encounter with social security for a while so I decided I would wait until Shantel is out on spring break, next week, then I will make the trip to a Phoenix Social Security Office…what a pain, but I decided to not worry about that now and just move on to better things.

Well,,,, better was not in the immediate plans for me the next day either. Due to several accidents, on several freeways, people who would normally take their favorite freeway to get where they were going were forced to use the surface streets to move about town. Our city streets are not designed for the volume of traffic that occurred. People couldn’t even turn left when lights turned green because the intersections were blocked. People were driving down sidewalks to get past some of the blockages. This caused huge backups all over town and Shantel and I were caught right in the middle of it all. The thirty-five minute drive to get Shantel to school turned into two hours, which caused me to miss a doctor’s appointment, forced me to stay at the college for three house waiting for Shantel to get out of class because I had to take her to a doctor’s appointment and there was no way I was going to fight that two-hour traffic jam to get home then have to turn around and go back into it again to get her…I have to say that was the absolute worse traffic conditions I have ever seen around my towns since I have been driving…I thought New York City traffic was bad…but at least people there actually know how to drive in those conditions:)

When Shantel and I were finally home after spending the day trying to get through all those horrible traffic jams, and I thought my butt had been molded to the car seat…Shantel said “too bad our family friend, Robin, who does beautiful photography,  couldn’t have been with us to photograph how bad that really was”. I said “Robin wouldn’t want to have been stuck in all that either”. Shantel said “well she does such a good job documenting my life in her photos when I bake etc. I thought she might like to see first hand how our life isn’t always a bed of roses…”. I laughed and said “somehow I think she already knows”.

To end on a high note: The rest of my week was EXCELLENT! I had a girlfriend day of hiking, shopping, and lunch. Shantel and I also had our Maggie’s Place Day on Friday morning which is always so fun and rewarding…Then, another fun time Friday afternoon biking with my number one best friend, who just happens to be my husband, Bill. Then Saturday, Bill and I had a day of hiking … So much fun…and today, Sunday, I helped my daughter, Shantel, bake carrot cake cupcakes, then I polished her finger and toe nails… so much fun family time…I am blessed:)

Stay Tuned!

Social Security

When Shantel turned eighteen she applied for her Social Security Disability benefits as she is entitled to receive due to her being totally blind. After going through mountains of paperwork where she had to supply all the official medical documentation to “prove” she really is blind (she had both eyes removed when she was two due to cancer) and months of waiting, Shantel was finally approved to begin receiving a small monthly social security check to help her with living expenses. But, that wasn’t the end of the ordeal. No, a few months after she started receiving her monthly checks, she received a letter from the Social Security Administration Office saying she needed to contact them immediately because they had received information indicating her condition had improved. We were shocked to say the least. How does one grow back eyes that had been removed? But, if you don’t do what they say, when they say it, they simply inform you that they are stopping your checks.

Shantel contacted the Social Security office and was told she would need to resubmit all her medical records again. That created a lot of work for me because I have all her original records from the time she had her eyes removed, when she was two, until she turned eighteen. So I then had to go and have copies made all over again. What a PAIN! But, I did it, and we got everything sent in on time, and her checks did continue to arrive. However, that still was not the end of the ordeal…, No, a few weeks later Shantel receives a letter saying she needed to send in proof of her banking accounts because they are seeing where she is transferring money every month from the bank account she told them about into another bank account number and they need to know why she is transferring money and they also need to know that she reported all bank accounts she has to them.

What the Social Security Administration failed to realize, and would have known immediately if they had bothered to even read the mountains of paperwork they forced us to complete when Shantel applied to receive her disability benefits, is that Shantel reported that she pays $400 per month for room and board which was a requirement in order for her to even receive benefits to begin with, and she has to prove she does pay this every month. So, to cut down on paper, and so she doesn’t have to go to the bank to get the money out every month to pay her room and board…she  simply transfers the $400 from her bank account into our bank account and it’s all done on-line. Shantel called to let her case worker know this, but that wasn’t good enough for them. No, we had to pull both Shantel’s bank records and our bank records and explain everything to them in writing. All we can hope for now, is that someone will actually read the letter and review the bank records we sent them…stay tuned.

What I can’t understand in all of this is, Shantel was told if she didn’t live at home she would receive more money every month, but it still wouldn’t be enough for her to live out on her own without our help. They told her since she lives with us she will receive a reduced payment but she has to pay for her own room and board… So I said to them “you mean if we put her out, or she was homeless, she would receive more money but still not enough to have her own place” Their answer to my question was YES! Am I missing something or does this make sense to anyone reading this? All I can say at this point is…who’s running this insane asylum?

I also have to ask why isn’t the Social Security Administration out capturing the people who are really trying to fraud them instead of constantly hounding Shantel, and people who are legitimate, who are just trying to do things the right way?

Next: I don’t want to do this anymore!

Social Security vrs Voc Rehab

My mother was thrown off a horse years ago and broke her back in three places. She continued to work as an RN for a full year in a back brace that ran from the top of her hips all the way up to her neck. She also had to wear elastic panty hose to support her legs and keep her from getting blood clots. After she worked like that for a year, her doctor told her to set a date, quit working, and apply for Social Security Disability. It took a long time for her to be approved for Social Security benefits, but she eventually did start receiving a check. However, every few months, she would receive a letter telling her she needed to be seen by the Social Security doctors to determine if she was still disabled or if her condition had improved enough to return to the work force. Time after time she would go in to be evaluated and each time she was classified as disabled. Now, that mom is almost 86 years old, and living in a nursing home, she still receives letters asking if she is able to return to work. I must have the doctor at the nursing home complete the form every few months to say her condition has not changed…Am I missing something here or are they?

When Shantel turned eighteen, she applied for Social Security Disability to help supplement her  living expenses including some of her college needs.  Again, it took a while for her case to be decided, but she finally was approved after several months, and receives a small monthly check. She was told if she didn’t live at home, she would receive more money, but if she didn’t live at home right now, she wouldn’t be able to attend college at all since no one is willing to hire her. It amazed me how long her approval took since all her supporting documentation from her doctors clearly state she had both eyes removed when she was two. Social Security Disability benefits clearly state it covers blindness. I don’t know how much more blind you can get than to have your eyes removed. However, she is now receiving letters letting her know she needs to set up an appointment with her Social Security Case Manager so they can evaluate if she is still eligible for her disability benefits.

Other than the issues of having to go in at all to show them her eyes didn’t grow back, she has not been able to reach the Case Manager at all. She was told she had to have an appointment set up with the Case Manager by May 2nd or her benefits could be canceled. Shantel tries to call her Case Manager everyday. She was able to leave a message once letting her know she is trying to reach her to schedule the appointment, but her call was never returned. Shantel even called the main Social Security number to see if anyone else could help her but was told she had to work with her own Case Manager…What a circus and waste of time and money this has been.

Now I understand that there are many, many people who scam the government. But, why not go after them, and leave the people who clearly are qualified, and need the benefits, and whose conditions are never going to change alone? I wonder how much money that would save the government every year?

Shantel also receives benefits from Voc Rehab which pays for her college tuition. The agreement is they help her get her higher education, which in turn will help her get a higher paying job and allow her to not need Social Security Benefits. Then, once Shantel has her education and degrees to support her career, she agrees to give back by doing work for Voc Rehab…all sounds perfect right? Wrong…Shantel is required to meet with her Voc Rehab Case Manager anytime they ask her to come in. She also has to maintain a certain grade point average, and report any and all changes in her school, living arrangement etc. to her Case Manager.

Shantel had many problems with her Voc Rehab Case Manager who would threaten to pull her funding for any reason at all including because she didn’t think Shantel should use the college tutoring program to help her with her math. It got to the point that Shantel had to request a new Case Manager which has been done. Now, Shantel needs to set up an appointment to meet face-to-face with her new Case Manager in order for them to continue to pay her tuition. Shantel has been calling the new Case Manager to schedule the appointment for the past three weeks. No response to any of her calls. What is wrong with our government agencies? They make rules they insist you follow or they will “cut off you payments” but they are never available when you call and never return your calls. It’s like they set you up for failure from the beginning, but I am proud of the way Shantel has handled all the follow-ups she has had to do even though she is more than frustrated with all the run-a-rounds…

I’m all for these government agencies as I know they help many, many people. But, when I hear stories about how some people abuse their government benefits and/or try to run scams with their government benefit money, I wonder how they can get away with all that without being caught right away since I know my family members are hounded almost constantly to prove they are really eligible? What’s up with that?

Next: Grandchildren

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The Brantley Blog

In the eyes of the law, we reach adulthood the day we turn 18 years old. God help anyone who actually believes that.

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