No sympathy for SAHMs?

Mandy - posted on 05/25/2011 ( 6 moms have responded )

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So, basically I just wanted to rant and get the word out, in case you didn't already know. If you are a young stay at home mom, you might want to consider getting a "paying" job. I am learning this the hard way.

I met my husband when I was 18 (with only a couple of years of solid work history). Married him and had our daughter at 19 (which was in 2003). I worked for a while when she was a baby. When she was about 8 months old, I quit my job because my (then) husband and I had decided that I would stay at home to raise our daughter until she started school.

Well, about 6 months after the loss of my daddy to cancer, (I was a 'daddy's girl'), and 2 other separate traumatic events in 2005, I began having these horrific panic attacks. To make a long story short(er), they have basically prevented me from being able to leave my home on most days (even with medication) and if I do feel stable enough to leave home, I usually don't want to because of feeling zoned out from meds.

Anyhow, my husband and I were together from 2002 until October of last year. I had not worked throughout our entire marriage because my husband had seen the hell that I go through with my nerves and panic attacks and other health issues, so we agreed that I would stay home and raise the kids (we had a son in 2007) and he would work since I was basically unable to because of the panic disorder.

Well, the last couple years of our marriage, he had gotten controlling and abusive, and I knew I was financially dependent on him so I felt I couldn't leave. But finally, I had had enough, so I left. I applied for several jobs and finally got hired for a seasonal position. It didn't take a week for me to find out that it wasn't going to work. My panic attacks had me hiding out in the bathroom, clinging to my bottle of Xanax' and scared to leave. My production suffered and there were a few days I had to stay out completely and a couple of times I left early after having a complete mental breakdown there AT work, in front of everyone. Sooo embarrassing. I came very close to losing this job. It finally ended and I was laid off, but had it lasted another week, I'd have gotten fired.

Well, now, here I am, 7 years later, struggling to provide for my children on the $300 a month my ex-husband is giving me for child support for them and pending a disability claim due to Chronic Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, OCD, Clinical Depression, (those are the mental disorders I have been diagnosed with) among other physical problems (hypothyroidism, arthritis, TMJ, chronic edema, etc.) I have been on so many different meds and nothing has yet truly helped me. I have been forced to move in with my new boyfriend (no family to take me in), but I did live in low income housing (aka apartment complex with a bad reputation) for a while when I was working. I lost it when I lost my job and couldn't pay the rent/utilities. Now, I know I can't go back to work. I wouldn't be able to hold a job. I am seeing my pyschologist on a regular basis and we're experimenting with cognitive behavorial therapy, which thus far, doesn't seem to be helping.

I am at my wit's end here! But here's the part that really set me off. I applied for disability based on my mental disorder. They contact me and tell me that because I've been out of the work force for so long and haven't accumulated 40 credits, I do not qualify for Social Security Disability. I feel that this is incredibly unfair. So for those 7 years while my husband went to work and I sat at home all day long with 2 children, cooked all meals, washed the clothes, cleaned the house, mowed the yard, ran errands, paid the bills, ran kids here and there and everywhere (while having to take Xanax just to leave the house) so that all my husband had to do was get up, go to work, come home, sprawl out on the couch and watch soccer, I was screwing myself in the process and didn't even know it. I understand that it's for people who "pay into it" but I don't understand how our services as SAHMs can go so unrecognized. Those 7 years that I busted my rear end (you moms KNOW what I'm talking about) have brought me absolutely nothing. Now, I can't even get disability due to being a SAHM for 7 years (daughter is almost 8 and son is 3). They said I "might" qualify for SSI which is supplemental income, which is better than nothing but still nothing that anyone can SURVIVE on with 2 children. It makes me sick. So I have nothing to fall back on and all those years that he worked, he'll be taken care of should something happen to him. So remember this all you young SAHMs out there. If you become a SAHM without at least 10 years of work experience, you will NOT have anything to fall back on later, should you become disabled. SAHMs are NOT recognized for the work they do. We are not "clocking in" anywhere and we certainly don't receive paychecks every week or vacations, yet we have the hardest, most physically (AND MENTALLY) taxing jobs there are to be had. Maybe it's just me, but I think that this is all incredibly unfair. Would appreciate your comments and advice. [/rant]

6 Comments

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Karen - posted on 05/26/2011

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i can't really help you much but that is sooo unfair. I can't believe they won't give you your dissability. Did you try for social security? They pay to people who can't work. Well my friend gets it. She can work but she has a lot of medical issues, so she can't really do more than part time. i think that's why. I'm so sorry you have had to go through all that and are still going through it. I hope things get better for you.

Angela - posted on 05/26/2011

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I am on ssi and I can understand you pain. My husband works from home & I decided to try Pampered Chef on for my spare time. My kids are 3 1/2yrs & 8 1/2 m. & I'm always zonked. I never worked as my disability is Narcolepsy & Bipolar, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, & various other muscular/auto immune disorders. I have to fight for 3 years to get ssi. I was furious when they told me I didn't qualify for ssdi because I hadn't worked & my mom didn't try to get ssdi for me before I turned 18. As soon as I turned 18 I applied & got it at 21. I got backpay but it was really worthless after I had to pay the lawyer & JFS back for the "assistance" I received. I wish I had an answer for you. With SSDI you can work a part time job & still get full benefits. With SSI if you get a part time job they take $1 for every $2 you make. It's just not worth it unless you get a job like I did (Pampered Chef) where you choose how much you make & can make sure you don't make enough that it is even counted. Have you considered doing a business like that, maybe Mark. cosmetics or something where you can do most of your marketing online & don't have to do any live parties or leave your home? Have you tried maybe going through your local Vocational Rehabilitation center & get help to go back to school for a job like computer programming so, like my husband, you can work from home on your own time designing webpages or programming web sites?It makes great money.

My thoughts & prayers are going out to you.

[deleted account]

I agree with you, the system is crap, but it is the way it is unless we fight to change it.

NO woman should become a SAHM without something to fall back on, regardless of her age. SAHM put themselves in a vulnerable position in order to do what is best for our kids, so we have to be adamant about protecting ourselves.

Before making the decision to stay home, a woman should have at least one bank account that only she has access to, and enough $$ in it to leave and get on her feet, should her marriage collapse. It is also good to stay current in your line of work while you are out of the workforce by volunteering in your field, and keeping in contact with other professionals. A secondary income is also helpful and can help keep you current in your field--I write online, take pictures, and have some investment income--but it is not as important as that emergency bank account.

I get nervous every time I hear young women with no back up plans becoming sahm's. I know that doesn't help you much, Mandy, and I don't really have much advice for you, except to sue your ex for alimony if you have not done so in the divorce, but I was hoping to add to your advice to others, so that they would be more prepared.

Mandy - posted on 05/25/2011

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Thanks for the support, Michelle. I did inquire about that, but they said that my husband would have to have died in order for me to receive any actual disability. Which, I think, is absolute BS. :/ Apparently, us SAHMs are of little value. *eyeroll*

Michelle - posted on 05/25/2011

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Depending on your state you should be able to apply for disability through your ex. I can't remember how that works exactly once you're divorced. I know ex spouses in most states get some kind of credit for the time they were married. You get pretty screwed in that respect if you're a SAHM. Lucky for me I did work for 10 years before I had kids. I still have to bite my tongue every time somebody asks when I'm going to get a real job and what do I do with all of my free time. Maybe you could find some legit work from home stuff (medical billing etc). I don't know of any but I'm sure there are plenty that pay to advertise on circle of moms. I hope that things get better for you.

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