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ER on Welfare?
Old 07-05-2004, 02:04 PM   #1
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ER on Welfare?

Something I've been wondering about for awhile... how do people feel about blurring the line around being ER by being on welfare?

TH mentioned having a lot of welfare recipients in his neck of the woods, and I was asking my ER brother this week if we knew any other ERs and he described a mutual acquaintance living in Sonoma County, CA as "yeah, she's been early retired for 20 years... on welfare".

It kind of caught me aback, until I realized that in many ways we are advocating a lifestyle for ER that may not be dissimilar from someone who is really struggling to make ends meet financially, or that the temptation might be there for someone keen on ER to get a little helping hand from the State.

How do people feel about this -- immoral? Not ER at all? or 'soul brothers on the way to a simpler life' with the main distinction being about where the $ comes from.

Any thoughts?
ESR (not on Welfare!) Bob
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-05-2004, 02:13 PM   #2
 
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Re: ER on Welfare?

Well, being an anti-government/anit-authority/stick 'em
for whatever you can type; I think welfare based ER
is a fine idea. After all, the government is wasting your money anyway. Why not let it help you
retire. Sounds good to me.

John Galt
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-05-2004, 02:37 PM   #3
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Re: ER on Welfare?

My lifestyle is a LOT different from the welfare gang.

I own my own home and its paid off, I own several cars and those are paid off, and I'm eating pretty darn well.

But that doesnt mean I'm any more or less happy. I guess.

I had a nice chat with one of my wifes old neighbors the other day. I'm sure nobody in her household has held a job for quite a while. Nice lady in her 40's in a housecoat and curlers, eating a corn dog and drinking a can of beer...at 10:30 in the morning.

She seemed happy. We had a pleasant conversation. Both of us have the smartest dog in the world. People drive too fast in the neighborhood. Those folks down the street sure are suspicious.

I had the same conversation with the my mcmansion next door neighbor about 4 years ago...minus the curlers, corn dog and can of beer.
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-05-2004, 02:46 PM   #4
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Re: ER on Welfare?

TH:

Healthy attitude!
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-05-2004, 03:34 PM   #5
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Re: ER on Welfare?

What about being financially independent and retired and trying to qualify for low income rates on utilities and other subsidized services?

Do you ever do it and do you feel it's moral?
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-05-2004, 03:41 PM   #6
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Re: ER on Welfare?

Yes I do it, and I follow all the rules explicitly.

I do feel a little twinge, but I dont make the rules. The only rules are "this box on your tax return has to be less than $xxx".

Maybe its having paid $20 a month for a phone line I hardly ever use, coupled with paying money to see who is calling me, then paying more money to keep people from calling me that I dont want to call me, while the phone company sells my phone number to the people I dont want calling me.

Or having PG&E rape me for electricity for the last couple of years.

Eh...I guess I dont feel that bad.
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-05-2004, 04:00 PM   #7
 
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Re: ER on Welfare?

Damn, TH, I have now developed an even higher
level of respect for you. My hat's off to you son!

John Galt
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-05-2004, 04:29 PM   #8
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Re: ER on Welfare?

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. We taken in her step daughter for the last eleven months commercial fisherman -er person - couldn't get any welfare - budget was exhausted - turned down by SS - got a lawyer from the yellow pages - got SSI plus SS is coming (she had a lot high paying jobs in the 80's) - charity medical put her on the elective list (can't operate on her torn ligaments so she can get back to work) - medicaid card arrived yesterday - so maybe she can get a different burocracy to fix her foot - SO she can be without health insurance once again and stop all those SSI and now SS disability checks now starting to roll in which will probably equal or exceed her profit from commercial fishing after expenses.

I think I have the story right but I may have confused myself typing this post. I'm SURE it makes sense.
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-05-2004, 04:30 PM   #9
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Re: ER on Welfare?

Let me see that hat...

Hmm...looks like my size...

Its not earthshattering savings. $5 instead of $20 for the phone, and 20% off the utility bill plus the rates are "pre-raping" rates before the 20% comes off.

Hell, if I cant contribute to a roth because I have no earned income, I can sure as tootin' take advantage of plans intended to support those with no earned income...
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-05-2004, 09:40 PM   #10
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Re: ER on Welfare?

Quote:
...or 'soul brothers on the way to a simpler life' with the main distinction being about where the $ comes from.
I have known many people on welfare through my work and knew them well. Most had disabilities. It's a whole different ballgame than ER, and the two simply cannot be compared in any meaningful way. Most of those folks aren't happy in the least. They have no sense of security and are extremely poor. Regarding the main distinction being where the money comes from - there's a whole lot more to it than that. And their lives usually aren't simple at all; it's more like dismal.
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-05-2004, 10:01 PM   #11
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Re: ER on Welfare?

I don't know much about Welfare or people who collect it. But it is a government program with rules and regulations. If someone meets the requirements set out in those rules and regulations but does not collect, I think they are naive or misguided. It would be like refusing to take the home mortgage tax break, for example, because you don't feel that homeowners should have an unfair advantage over renters.

Of course if you have to lie to collect the benefit, that's another story.
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-05-2004, 10:55 PM   #12
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Re: ER on Welfare?

There's no way I could exist on welfare ... too many rules / regulations / limits. My lifestyle is entirely different. I can go where I want, spend what I want, and not worry about exceeding the 2k in the bank rule. That 2k would barely cover one of my trips! : And when I worry about too many lunches out in a week, my concerns are about my cholesterol level and whether I've gained weight ... not about whether I can pay the bills.
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-06-2004, 04:13 AM   #13
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Re: ER on Welfare?

To use her words - this f#*^ing sucks. Bizarre universes unto themselves welfare systems be. Escorting her to her duly appointed rounds thru the system/s - she now has enough knowledge to probably qualify for foreign service dealing with strange customs and unfamiliar governments. The level of intrusiveness would surprise most ERs. It all smacks of work.

The level of knowledge required to understand/work the welfare system would qualify a person for a middle/upper management postion in a fair universe. Met the the whole gamut - from absolute D heads to nice people who went the extra mile to help navigage the system.

Bottom line - avoid it at all cost - otherwise you get a lot of 'help' running your life.
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-06-2004, 08:17 PM   #14
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Re: ER on Welfare?

So, is the concensus that being on Welfare is not a viable shortcut to financial solvency in ER -- it just wouldn't work or it isn't the same thing... Too intrusive and no way a path to FIRE. Keep the two concepts separate, but ERs can and should take whatever non-welfare benefits are available out there in the tax code or in a utility's low-income break or whatever. That is fair play. Sound reasonable?

ESRBob
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-06-2004, 10:19 PM   #15
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Re: ER on Welfare?

Quote:
ERs can and should take whatever non-welfare benefits are available out there in the tax code or in a utility's low-income break or whatever.
Taxes are based on a sliding scale depending on one's income. If my income is low enough, than I 'qualify' for a lower tax bracket. I never checked into utility breaks as I am sure my income disqualifies me
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-07-2004, 08:03 AM   #16
 
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Re: ER on Welfare?

Well, I couldn't qualify for "welfare" in any form and
anyway the "hoops" and "intrusiveness" would drive me nuts (nuttier?). However, back when my chronic
ailments kicked in, I wondered about SS
disability. I checked it out several times and the bottom
line is that you must prove you can't do ANY work.
Tough standard, even for a creative guy like me

An aside. Got my annual SS statement in the mail
yesterday. My estimated benefit at 62 went up.
It's nearly as high as my Dad's who waited until 65
or 66 to draw (I made a lot more money when I worked). Finally, they told me I was could no longer
get SS disability even if I qualified. Guess I have had
too many years of no employment. Suppose it is like
private disability policies. If you quit working, you only
have so long to file for benefits.

John Galt
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-07-2004, 08:42 AM   #17
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Re: ER on Welfare?

I think it is more like, if you are eligible for early SSA than you do not get SSD which is normally less than SSA.
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-07-2004, 09:47 AM   #18
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Re: ER on Welfare?

SS is far and alway the biggest tax the bulk(majority?) of commercial fisherman pay around here - both sides since they are self employed.

My may SS annual statement says I get no disability under any circumstances with more than five years of goose eggs for SS income.

Luckily she had less than 2k assets - sold her crab traps to eat/pay bills and the boat is in her partner's name. Her delivery truck book value is less than 2k. They poke into everything you own. Believe me - you really don't want welfare - if it can be avoided. The only consolation - she's getting back some of the money early that she's paid in for the last 32 years.
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-07-2004, 11:19 AM   #19
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Re: ER on Welfare?

Quote:
So, is the concensus that being on Welfare is not a viable shortcut to financial solvency in ER -- it just wouldn't work or it isn't the same thing... Too intrusive and no way a path to FIRE. Keep the two concepts separate, but ERs can and should take whatever non-welfare benefits are available out there in the tax code or in a utility's low-income break or whatever. That is fair play. Sound reasonable?

ESRBob
Hi ESRBob,

Yes, those two (welfare vs. qualifying for a price break on something) are worlds apart. When you say "welfare", that's typically considered to be a cash payment to someone who can't work. It enables them to survive until they can get back on their feet. To qualify in my state, one must have essentially nothing. So in a sense, it's almost the opposite of financial independence. You'd have someone riding you to get off benefits, often there are looming time limits when benefits would end (whether you're ready or not), you'd have people trying to "fix" you and teach you how to be independent, forcing you to attend sessions/classes, and you'd be living hand-to-mouth the whole time. Working would be much easier. These folks typically feel very beat down. In fact, almost all the folks I worked with looked forward to the day they could work and earn a decent living vs. ERs who can hardly wait to get out. Plus, all those years out of the workplace really does a number on their work history and they often end up in low wage, crap jobs nobody else will take. Most will never achieve FI. It's usually a dreary, dismal, insecure life. I've known some people who went on to do OK, but even those folks must start from zero, much later in life, with a poor work history... this isn't a shortcut to financial solvency or ER; it's more like putting a mountain in your path to FIRE.

Qualifying for a price break is a whole other issue. The only connection I can think of is that people with significant assets can occasionally qualify right along with those receiving welfare. I suspect the reason for that is that the people writing the administrative rules are usually wage earners who think in terms of income - not assets (like 99% of the population). It probably never occurred to them that a millionaire might have a tiny AGI. That would never occur to most people. To them wealth is about income - if someone is a millionaire they must be earning a bunch.
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Re: ER on Welfare?
Old 07-07-2004, 03:06 PM   #20
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Re: ER on Welfare?

>>The only connection I can think of is that people with significant assets can occasionally qualify right along with those receiving welfare.

In Massachusetts, if you have kids, it doesn't matter how much in assets you have, only income, when they decide if you are eligible for food stamps....lastime I checked(just for fun, I don't plan on using them), based on my family size of 6 and no earned income (and carefully managed capital gains), we could get food stamps in the amount of about $500 per month...
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