Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Poverty Paperwork Shuffle

I spend a ridiculous amount of time filling out forms and knowing what
kind of forms I'm filling out makes the difference between getting
assistance or not getting assistance. There are forms to prove I don't
make enough money (food stamps and medicaid), forms to prove I do make
enough (rental and credit apps) and forms to prove I make neither too
much nor too little (most housing programs). I am fortunate that I am
fluent in both bueracratese and English, which makes me an efficient
form filler. But not everyone is and the complexities and nuances of
what each program requires are a way to make the programs less
accessible to people who need them. It's one of the reasons
Republifuckers hate the Earned Income Tax Credit. The form is
relatively easy to figure out, and if you find it too difficult the
IRS will figure it for you. But in general, complex applications are a
feature, not a bug, in assistance programs. The tiniest mishap gets
you either denied, or worse, criminally liable for fraud.

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