The Well Dressed Clause

About the well dressed clause…

Did you know that you can’t get a room in a flea bag Skid Row SRO hotel without a Social Security Card? Not just the number, the actual card…

I received mine when I was sixteen years old and lost it when I was seventeen.

For the next forty years I was able to lease over forty apartments in two different countries, enroll in colleges, be hired by twenty different employers, open bank accounts, buy cars and property and insurance, obtain mortgages, invest in the stock market, receive and maintain a US Passport, travel the world and climb all the way up the corporate ladder. When I became homeless, the California state government granted me Medi-Cal and Food Stamps. Finally, having reached the age of sixty two I have been awarded retirement income from the Social Security Administration its very self.

It has been almost a year and a half since I lost my home and everything I owned due to circumstances beyond my control. Sometimes it seems that all I’ve done is run face first into brick walls, over and over and over again. I had been trying for over seven months to get into the City of Los Angeles’ Coordinated Entry System (CES), an agency set up to help homeless people get back on their feet by moving them to decommissioned SRO apartments in Skid Row. 

So desperate to have a home of my own again,all by myself, that sounded like a dream come true.  Then I could wait until  I could begin collecting social security so I could finally have the necessary minimum income required to start applying to get on the waiting lists for subsidized Senior Housing and some day have a real apartment in a nice place again where I could live in comfort and safety  and never have to pay more than thirty percent of my income for the rest of my life.

One of the requirements for the CES program is that I am required to have a hard copy of my Social Security Card and I don’t have one.
The Social Security Administration has always had the wrong birthdate for me. In order for me to get a hard copy of my SS card, I must first take my birth certificate to their office and have the date corrected.

It is ironic to me that I am required to have a social security card at this particular point in time. I received mine when I was sixteen years old and lost it when I was seventeen.

For the next forty years I was able to enroll in colleges, be hired by employers, open bank accounts, buy cars and property and insurance, obtain mortgages, invest in the stock market, receive a US Passport, travel the world and climb my way all the way up the corporate ladder. When I got sick and became homeless, the California state government granted me Medi-Cal and Food Stamps. Finally reaching the age of sixty two I have been awarded retirement income from the Social Security Administration its very self. 

This is the only time in all my life that I have ever been required to show anyone my social security card. What’s even more ironic is that I just looked at friend’s card and printed right on the front are these words (in capital letters) “for social security and tax purposes – not for identification.

This next bit will probably all sound like the product of a vivid imagination or a delusion but I assure you, it is a fact. Before I got sick and was no longer able to work I was Senior Vice President of a national corporation. I brought home a six-figure salary. I had saved and invested and carefully planned for a comfortable retirement. I owned my own home in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I took care of my Mom and supported myself and two other people in a life of luxury and ease. I was what they used to call “pillar of the community” and I lived in very high social circles. I even owned a Jaguar and a Rolls Royce at the same time.

My health took all of that away from me in the blink of an eye.

I paid heavily in taxes for many years to support the agencies that I am now trying to benefit from.

I know the world doesn’t owe me a living and I really am doing the best I can but the only thing that I have had to look forward to after losing everything but a suitcase full of old clothes and having all my pride and my dignity stripped away and becoming a charity case is finally receiving that first social security check that I worked so hard for so at last I will be able to have my own home again and begin to reconstruct the ruins of the life I lost.

When I called the Social Security administration to find out how to correct my birthdate so that I could receive a hard copy of the original card I lost four decades ago, I was told that if I tried to do that now, having just started receiving my benefits, my claim would be pulled, payments would cease immediately, I would need wait thirty days to reapply and it would take another 60 days beyond that to receive my next check. I would also need to pay back what they have already distributed to me and that when payments began again, they would not be backdated.

I still have a current United States Passport, a California DMV Identiffication card and an award letter from the Social Security Admistration showing my full Social Security Number and I carry them with me.

At no time in all my life have I ever been required to show anyone my social security card.

Until I tried to get a room in Skid Row.

 —-love, Spike

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