After a prolonged absence in this space, I’m working to have a more regular presence. It’s been a very eventful couple of months.
Business is back
After a terribly long time in the desert, I’ve finally picked up a couple of clients. One is a farmer in North Dakota. He is building a business involving products and information around the Keto eating plan. I am one of two VAs he has hired to help get things going. He has a very active Facebook group with over 6,000 members. The other VA is staying on top of that group. She is approving new member requests and making sure no one spreads false information or bombards everyone with sales pitches. I’m going to help with creating the content the group seems to be starving for.
Another client is a husband & wife team that runs a real estate business in D.C. I’ve known the wife for over 20 years. She’s a Charlotte native who attended my church in her late teens and early 20s before relocating to D.C. My official start date with them is September 1. I’ll be handing the back-end aspects of the buying/selling of homes, seeing that the contract and other forms in the blizzard of paperwork are properly flowing through the process.
The world of high finance
My father used to use this phrase a lot, followed by “not high money, just high finance.” I hate that so much of the human experience revolves around money, but you do what you have to do. During these many months with no clients, bills have continued to flow in. Several companies I do business with stopped issuing late fees and disconnections during the plague, which helped a lot. I’ve also had to depend on the generosity of family members, which they have provided in great amounts.
Last September, I applied for Supplemental Security Income from Social Security. I was looking for the same help that my family received when my brother and I were kids based on our visual impairment. The rep that took my application said I should include an application for disability as well. The standard approval process is said to be 90-120 days. When 120 days passed, I called for an update. I got one of those customer service reps that you could tell was unhappy with this line of work. “Those reps love to give out numbers when they aren’t the ones processing the applications,” she retorted.” There is no timeline. When they get to your application, then they’ll get to it.” That was in late January.
Then the plague hit. Everything was put on hold. Finally, at the end of May, a caseworker got my application.
I had to take several medical appointments. They needed to get a current eye exam, a general physical (separate from the one I had just received from my primary doctor), confirmation of arthritis in my knees, and a mental evaluation (again, separate from the psychiatrist I see every quarter). That process took most of June.
The thing about SSA Disability is that the benefits you receive are based on how much you contribute in payroll taxes while working. With 25 years in the corporate world, I had paid in quite a lot. It was determined that yes, I really am disabled, and on the 4th Wednesday each month, starting in August, I will receive a monthly payment.
It’s a pretty big payment, thanks to all those work credits. It’s big enough that I won’t be eligible for SSI. But because I’ve been disabled for a long time, they owe me a back-payment from 1 year before I applied to the current day. They were waiting for my SSI determination before paying it – any SSI I was owed would be deducted from that back-payment. I have to submit a document verifying what income I earned and how much money my family had given us, and then they will make the final determination.
I’m expecting a total denial of SSI. That’s fine, because the back-payment of SSA disability will allow us to pay off some debts, and the ongoing disability payments my wife and I both receive will cover our basic bills. The only remaining X-factor is how my business income will affect this disability payment. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. The bottom line is we have enough to make it day-to-day, which is exactly what we have been praying for.
Middle of the road is good
Neither Netta nor I have a particular thirst for wealth. Being part of the standard middle-class is just fine with us. We do not look upon those with wealth as if they are evil for being wealthy. There is too much going on in our own lives to waste energy focusing on how much stuff other people have. We have never concerned ourselves with trends. Again, too much is happening in our home to obsess over what other people think is cool and hip and whatnot.
There’s an old adage that says, “he who dies with the most toys wins.” I once saw a perfect rebuttal to this. “He who dies with the most toys is still dead.”
Ultimately, we place our trust in God. He will ensure our true needs are met. Occasionally, He will bless us by allowing some of our wants to be satisfied. It’s been a rocky, up-and-down journey these 2.5 years since I ventured out on my own to start my VA business. And yes, at times I have been very angry with God at the lack of progress. I also questioned myself, wondering if my decision to go the entrepreneur route was the wrong one.
Now that things seem to be settling down and I’m starting to get in a little bit of a groove, I can say that God truly was guiding me all the way. The scripture that says He is working things out for my good (Romans 8:28), is 100% true.