Posts Tagged ‘public assistance’

I received a notice from Camp Medicaid late last week that my so-called “Fair Hearing” (filed 12/16/10) is scheduled for the afternoon of May 3, 2011. I cannot make it for various reasons, but also cannot get through on the phone number  the form directs me to call to request an adjournment to another day/time.

In the past, oh, seven months since I reapplied for Medicaid when the Roosevelt breast clinic refused to see me b/c my Medicaid lapsed, I have not been able to get a follow-up  breast exam or mammogram to make sure that everything from my breast biopsy is okay. This is the NYC public “assistance” at work, folks. The so-called social safety net.


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Your public assistance case has been RECERTIFIED for the period May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011.

You will continue to get the SAME AMOUNT of public assistance benefits:  $151.00 Even though we figured your public assistance benefits again, it did not change the amount of public assistance benefits you get.

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“This is to tell you that your public assistance will be DISCONTINUED. You will no longer get public assistance beginning March 16, 2020.

This is because we have determined that you willfully did not complete the following employment requirements:

You did not keep going to the employment or work activity assignments at ARBOR WC BKN. Your attendance at this assignment for the period January 26, 2010 to February 9, 2010 was unsatisfactory.

We have decided that you willfully and without a good reason failed or refused to comply with the requirement to keep participating in the assignment.”

[Perhaps HRA should assign a WEP worker with writing experience to replace their government nonsense-repeatspeak correspondence writer.]

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YEP!  It finally happened, I’ve been officially FTC’d.  HRA caught up with me and realized I have not been participating in the WeCARE classroom activities or even showing up at the Arbor WeCARE offices on Elm Place in downtown Brooklyn. I *think* I have a Fair Hearing scheduled on the 22nd to present evidence to dispute this FTC finding.  My evidence, such as it is, are three letters from my psychiatrist and psychologist stating that the best environment and optimal setting for me to conduct a job search is in my home office where I also need to do my work as a freelance journalist to make enough income to cover at least part of my rent . And, also that HRA has NEVER sent me any follow-up documentation about any of my meetings, reviews, visits or anything else, so I have no clue about the status of or what is going on with my case.

Another participant, who has been FTC’d five times said to me, “Well you’re really not part of the system unless you’ve been FTC’d.”  But I don’t really want to keep going back, lining up in front of the Linden Job Center in downtown Brooklyn in the chilly morning air at 7:30 a.m. to open a new case.  Fortunately, I have been recruited and heavily courted for a well-paying PR/Marketing job at a hospital in NYC. I have an interview on Tuesday and hope to move forward with it.  I feel hopeful about this job potentiality and hope to not have to deal with HRA much longer. It’s a punishing and punitive system, not at all what it pretends to be, a source of assistance for people down on our luck. It’s a road to certain failure–HRA sets it up that way. I choose to be–and always have been–on the road to success.

I’m writing an article based on my experiences and that of others working their way through HRA for a NYC publication that I will link to here when it goes live this week. Please stay tuned.

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So I was re-certified for food stamps on Thursday.  I luckily (and it is all pure luck of the draw!) had an on-the-ball worker who noticed that I supposedly hadn’t kept my conciliation appointment the day before and therefore was FTC’d (Failure to Comply). I told her I indeed kept my appointment and produced the document, which had “appointment kept” written on it and dated the previous day. She reversed the FTC and said I would have to present evidence at my Fair Hearing in two weeks to avoid being actually FTC’d.

Also,  I just learned that HRA’s computer system automatically defaults to failure to keep appointments for all participants and until and unless a smart (and complete oxymoron) worker enters other information and enters it correctly, we, the welfare masses, are assumed not to have kept our mandatory appointments. We are judged guilty until we prove our innocence.

This process, going through HRA’s maze-like system,  is also a very isolating experience. No one talks to anyone else at the public assistance or food stamp offices. And I, for one, have never and I mean NEVER received any follow-up documentation to my visits, interviews or requests for documentation. The only documents I receive are the self-serving threats by HRA to cut off my benefits. I just file for a Fair Hearing simply to gain information about my case because there is apparently no other way to obtain it.

Oh, but I have to say Medicaid has been very good about getting me enrolled and making sure my insurance is active. I’ll give them that.

I also saw a perfect profile of a do-nothing HRA worker while I was sitting through my re-certification meeting. This worker was behind my worker. He was a big, slow schlub and apparently gay guy—he had OUT Magazine covers with hot guys pinned to his wall, a lot of Johnny Depp and Daniel Craig, a Pride calendar and such. I would not have read him as gay, but then I’m not a gay man. He was a study is the slow-as-–molasses movement that gives city workers a bad name for being lazy and wasting time. He was shuffling papers around his desk for quite a while, stacking and restacking file folders. Sharpening pencils, cleaning off his telephone and the coup-de-grace was him reaching into his pocket and pulling out a fistful of change and counting it e-v-e-r- so s-l-o-w-l-y into his other paw. Damn, was it excruciatingly slow and I‘m not sure he was finished by the time I left. I was there for about 20 minutes and this guy did nothing. In fact the guy in front of my worker was doing nothing either. Yet, the female worker in front of him had a client, just like me whom she was trying to help. I wonder what the ratio of achievement of female to male is, both actual and reported/recorded.

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Failure to Comply: The Disconnect Between Design and Implementation in HRA’s WeCARE Program


In early 2005, the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) implemented the Wellness, Comprehensive Assessment, Rehabilitation and Employment (WeCARE) Program to determine which public assistance recipients and applicants have multiple and complex barriers to employment and provide them with specialized services that were not available under HRA’s previous support and training programs. Based on discussions from June 2005 through August 2006 with over 700 welfare recipients in WeCARE, as well as in-depth focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and phone surveys with 100 of those participants, this report is a study of how the WeCARE program is supposed to work and whether or not it is providing the support and specialized services it is designed to deliver to public assistance recipients with disabilities. The report lays out the policies put in place by New York City to serve public assistance recipients with disabilities, relays findings based on participants’ first-hand experiences with the program and offers recommendations for systemic and service delivery improvements.

Find the reports here.

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I just retrieved my mail and opened a envelope with the Linden Center Job Center as a return address. The document is titled Conciliation Notification for Activity Period Continued.

“We would like to discuss any problems you may have with work activity requirements and the reason(s) why you:

Failed to comply with WeCARE Vocational Rehabilitation Services or did not attend or cooperate with scheduled activities for all assigned hours.

Either you did not meet the minimum number of work hours required or failed to cooperate during the period of      01/26/2010 through    02/09/2010. If we cannot reach an agreement about your participation in a work activity, we will make a determination as to whether or not you did willfully and without good cause fail or refuse to report or cooperate…” YADDA YADDA YADDA ad infinitum

This meeting,  with a so-called “Conciliation Worker,” will take place next Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. I’ll keep you posted!

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