I have been unemployed since August, 2013. My unemployment benefits ended last month and they'll end for good unless the boys on the Hill come to their senses and approve an extension. (Fat chance!)
I am a nurse (LPN) with more than 20 years experience in my field, which is a "Clinical Reimbursement Specialist." What does that mean? It means I perform assessments on patients in nursing homes, and those assessments determine the rate of reimbursement from Medicaid, Medicare and a variety of insurance companies. I am extremely good at what I do, yet I rarely get called for an interview, much less a job offer.
Why? Most likely because I am nearing retirement age, and employers don't want to be saddled with a 56-year-old, who happens to have pretty significant arthritis in my back, shoulders and hips. Does that malady prevent me from showing up to work every day and performing my assessments? No, but it does prevent me from "working the floor," as most nurses in long term care facilities must "take call" a few times per month.
Prior to last August, I had been with my employer for two years. I know it is not long, but I had hoped to retire from there. Unfortunately, as in most industries, office politics played a huge part of my termination.
In the past six months, I have sent out countless resumes, and I am down to the wire. I have thought about leaving the nursing field, but most jobs require some sort of lifting, which I can't do safely, because of my own disability.
Luckily, there is only my husband and myself at home. My kids are grown and on their own, but not in a position to help. I was the one they went to for a little financial bump from time to time, but I can't even do that these days, which breaks my heart.
Regardless, I am now in a pickle, as my car got repossessed in November. (The car loan company refused to wait one more day, no, 12 hours, for a payment to post.) I must now take a bus to get to interviews, and yes, I have had to cancel a few, as the facilities are not on the bus line. There would be no point in taking the interview and not being capable of getting to work if I did get the position.
My hubby is disabled, but does not receive compensation from the government. He suffers from a congenital back ailment which was aggravated by his stint in the Air Force in the '80s. He was given a medical discharge, with the warning that he would be in a wheelchair by the time he was 40. He is 54 and still walking around, albeit with a cane at times. He refused for years to apply for disability, and now the rules have changed, and he is not even eligible, as he has not worked the required number of hours in the past five years. He thought he was being noble by refusing to suck on the government teat. He is a talented artist, and has won a few awards and write-ups in art journals, but doesn't sell many pieces. He is depressed clinically, yet takes no medications due to multiple allergies.
We are at a loss as to what we will do now that the unemployment has just run out. We live month to month, and our landlord says if the rent is not paid by the 10th of the month, you are evicted.
We really do not want to become homeless, but if something doesn't give, that is where we will end up, without even a vehicle to sleep in. In Ohio, in winter.
Donna's story is part of a Huffington Post series profiling Americans who work hard and yet still struggle to make ends meet. Learn more about other individuals' experiences here.
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