My allowance

Small child holding up a few dollars with smile on his face.

Thanks, Government!

Yesterday, I received my monthly allowance of $1071.28 from the Canadian government, and I didn’t even have to do any chores! Doesn’t “allowance” have a nicer ring than “disability benefit”? Yes, this means that, in addition to funding my exorbitant medical costs, your taxes are allowing me to buy a few groceries without asking J. for $20. Before you resent me, know that I too was contributing to this fund until recently.

As a psychologist, I was often approached to write letters in support of a disability leave. Some of those requests I granted and others I turned down. I never envisioned applying for disability funding myself.

After two months in hospital a few years back, I was in no condition to work, and so I sought government support. (Many years earlier, I became ineligible for private disability insurance.) The Canadian government does not grant disability benefits easily; I needed to fill out lengthy forms as did two of my physicians. Soon I learned I would be covered, and funds have magically appeared in my bank account on the last Thursday of every month since.

What are the criteria for such funding? The surest way to be granted this benefit is to be dying, which I guess in some sense I am. Hate to break it to you, but you are too. Dying is a logical consequence of being born. Odds are I may die a bit sooner than you, though: my leukemia is incurable, I will always be on chemotherapy, and at some point that chemotherapy may be less effective than it has been thus far. Unless there is some unexpected medical advance, my cancer will never be cured. Still, I plan to live with leukemia for a very long time, assuming my other medical issues don’t interfere.

Of course there are downsides to my health challenges, but one upside is that the government is supporting me willingly. And I am allowed to work a small amount without losing my benefit. If I find I’m able to work more, the government may withdraw my funding.

Were I living on my own, I would be subsisting below the poverty line with this pittance. Thankfully I am not, because J. is supporting us. Going from being an equal financial partner to relying on J. financially has been a shock. We earn half of what we used to but are still able to cover our expenses. If the tables were turned, I would gladly be in J.’s shoes, but still I’ve had to adjust to the role shift, as has J.

Without J., I would have to work more, which would be a challenge. I’ve met people who are not this lucky, who return to work too soon because they have to. I do really miss working, but would I be a good psychologist if I worked more? And would I have to relinquish my self-care “job”? For now, I am grateful the government pays my allowance, however small.

So let me know if you want to go for coffee. I seem to have the time. Oh, and it’s on me (or should I say “you”, dear taxpayer?)


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