I was treated to a rehashing of the entire case as Robin sounded off to the officer about how he was being harassed by DHHS and how it was affecting his health. The officer listened very patiently, nodding in all the right places, trying to calm Robin. Turns out he is a retired state trooper working for the sheriff serving court papers. I thought the man was a consummate professional. I am glad he was the one who came to the Monastery.
The problem is that for many years of Robin’s working life, the department attached 65 percent of his income on top of the feds taking his income tax, leaving very little for him to have a life. Worse was the knowledge that, though they took thousands, they only gave the mother $9 per month for each child, taking the rest to cover medical costs associated with childbirth.
I have written on this many times. Most recently, two years ago, I wrote a piece called: “Child support: modern debtor’s prison.”
In order to keep up with this, he paid for his own training and became a coast-to-coast big-rig trucker. They took and took but his bill never went down. Finally (I believe mercifully), his congenital scoliosis couldn’t take the long hours behind the wheel.
Robin has applied for Social Security Disability and his case is presently under appeal while the department gathers more documents. He was diagnosed by three different physicians. The most important one, Dr. Scott, was the state’s own witness. He told Robin that he had the worst case he had ever seen. He marveled that Robin could walk, commenting that apparently growing up, Robin trained himself to walk, ignoring the bent spine. He also told Robin that to confirm what he knew he would need to take an MRI. Since Robin has no insurance, he couldn’t proceed.
So every six months the department drags him into court for nonpayment. The department immediately petitions the court to limit the proceeding to the last year only, thus ruling out Robin’s petition for the court to see his medical documents.
I was so very upset that I put on my habit and paid a visit to DHHS. The person I wanted to speak with was in court. I left word that I wanted to talk with him before court to try and convince him to back off during the appeal process.
The problem for DHHS is, if the condition of Robin’s back results in a disability determination, that will cancel his child-support bill of $57,562 for one daughter and $46,637 for the other two.
I haven’t heard a word. I also implied that I intended to publicize the unfairness of this particular case. Somewhere among my thousands and thousands of readers there is someone who can make a difference and who will agree that DHHS persecutes (no, I didn’t mean prosecutes) certain cases to make itself look good before legislative committees.
Also, while I am at it, I want to share with my fellow ordinary working folks what I saw around these buildings as I searched and searched for a parking place: thousands of shiny, late-model, fancy cars and pickups, everywhere you looked, in every direction. My jaw dropped as I realized these buildings are full of state employees who can afford this ocean of shiny steel and plastic and expensive cars.
There is no way around it: there are too many state employees!
(Doug Wright lives over Head Tide Hill in Whitefield. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.)