It seems that there are still many people who believe that people on welfare are living it up, getting everything that they could ever want, without having to work. While on occasion, people have been known to do this, not everyone does. Everyone is not out to cheat the system. Most people are just trying to get by.
I have not received anything other than food stamps and MaineCare since my children were young. Back then, the actual money was called AFDC, not TANF. That was a long time ago. I believe the going rate was $485.00 for a family of three. Big money there. Yeah right! After paying rent, electricity, and phone, there wasn’t much left. During the winter months, there may not have been any money left.
Rent was about 30% of your income. Of course, to get your low-income apartment, you had to pay a deposit. Then, electricity would be anywhere from $25.00 to $400.00 depending on different factors: what time of the year it was, whether you lived upstairs, downstairs, in the middle or on an end, and how many rooms you were trying to heat. The phone was about $20.00 a month, if you didn’t have to call long distance often.
After the bills were (hopefully) paid off each month, you still had other expenses. For instance, you had to keep your home clean. You also had to keep your family clean, and your clothing. We had to use the provided washers and dryers in the laundry room, which each cost money. You had to purchase diapers and baby wipes. Even if you used cloth diapers and wipes, you had to wash these which could get expensive. You also had to clothe everyone in your household. You had to have dinner, silver and cookware. You had to provide bedding and towels, and educational games, toys and books for your children. You needed a crib, a stroller, a high chair. Wow! There was so much more that was needed. The question is, how did anyone get by?
Who knows? We simply lived. We tried not to let things get us down. I did not have a car, so I didn’t have to worry about those types of expenses. I am relieved to say, due to the current condition of our economy, I still do not have to worry about this. I do not drive.
Another myth is that “All women get on welfare so they don’t have to work.” I beg your pardon. What? I was a mom at 18. The father wanted nothing to do with his daughter. I would not have been able to afford to pay for childcare while working. I wouldn’t have made enough money! I raised my daughters and when my second was two I started working part-time. I also went back to school, once for my GED, and once for my diploma. I worked hard for both of those! I was not even getting child support. When my older daughter was five, we finally started getting child support payments. Guess how much they were. $9.00 per week.
In part two of The Welfare Myth, I will discuss ways to stretch your TANF/AFDC. Then, in parts three and four, I will be discussing food stamps.