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Day 32 — Paperwork

I call the Income Administration Maintenance Service Center the unemployment office, but the DC government feels that it needs to provide a title that doesn’t make you feel like you’re poor. When you’re dealing with the government, it’s always something official.

After filling out forms I had downloaded and gathering the required documentation, I thought how difficult this process must be for people who never graduated high school or don’t know how to read or write, let alone for those who come from another country.

You start to think that the people who need these services the most aren’t getting them because they don’t know that they’re available, and if they do, it’s too much trouble to assemble the required documentation. One of the required documents to apply for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or welfare) is a copy (and that’s good enough) of your child’s Social Security card. If I had known I was applying for welfare, I wouldn’t have done it because it makes me feel shameful. But the government fools you into thinking that you’re not that poor with these gibberish, convoluted names.

I had to supply my kids’ Social Security cards and birth certificates, two letters from unrelated individuals stating that I lived in the same house with them, any income statements, and my tax bill, which would provide me more food stamp benefits. I couldn’t find one son’s Social Security card, so I mocked one up in Photoshop. I scanned the card for my younger son and then used Photoshop to recreate a card for my older son. I should have gone down and gotten a new one, but I was too lazy, and the instructions were much more involved than opening up new bank account.

The unemployment office doesn’t need to see original documents. Copies work just fine, and when you fax them, who’s going to know? You may think I have committed fraud, but he has a card, in the house, somewhere.

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