Dear Mr. Phelps:
I would like to file a formal complaint based on a recent experience I have had with one of your employees. “Margaret” was to do my interview for food stamp recertification on November 13 at 2:30 pm. I made sure I was home by 2:15 to ensure there would be no problems with my recertification process. At 2:40, after having not received the call, I discovered there was a message on my machine left at 2pm by Margaret. I returned the call and left a message on Margaret’s voice mail. Margaret called me back within 10 minutes.
Immediately after confirming that she was speaking to the correct person, Margaret informed me that she had called at 2pm. She used a tone that implied that I had somehow done something wrong by not being there at that time. I confirmed with her that the appointment was actually at 2:30, and that I had been home 15 minutes prior to my appointed time. She then told me that she had 5 appointments that day and was very busy, with a very annoyed tone to her voice. I am sure that she does have a busy schedule, but I fail to understand why I was wrong when I was ready for my appointment 15 minutes before the scheduled time. If I had been home at 2pm, I would have been willing to accommodate her schedule change. However, I was not. As a person with a disability, I have home care workers who come at certain times. It is necessary for me to take advantage of services when they can be provided, and I am careful to manage my schedule accordingly. At 2pm that day I was finishing my laundry with my HCS provider.
Margaret started to tell me things that I was unable to understand, and I explained to her that I have a traumatic brain injury that was making it difficult for me to understand what she was saying. I told her that my Service Coordinator always handles these types of things, as I had assumed that she (the telephone interview) was only confirming the accuracy of what was on my application. Anything beyond that would need to be handled by my service coordinator. Margaret refused to acknowledge what I said and continued to speak. She said something about doing something in January. Again, I did not understand what she was saying. I told her I was not even going to be here in January, as I was moving to a different county. She then said she was going to close my case. I asked her again to speak with my service coordinator because I did not understand what she was saying.
As a person with a TBI things can become very confusing for me especially in areas that I do not usually handle. I now have no idea if I am going to continue to get Food Stamps. Because I am a person with a disability, Margaret should have listened to what I was saying and spoken with my Service Coordinator. The proper forms were already signed and filed to allow my Service Coordinator to discuss my case with Social Services. I don’t understand why she refused to acknowledge my disability and take the proper steps to provide accommodations the first time I identified myself as disabled. I told her at least 3 times that I did not understand her because of a brain injury. Margaret also referred to my Service Coordinator as a “payee,” near the end of the conversation, further indicating that she does not understand the role of a Service Coordinator and the difference between a Service Coordinator and a payee. I do not have a payee, and never once mentioned this word.
The intent for this letter is for you to become aware of problems that exist within your department that need to be addresses with education. Workers should understand that when a person indentifies themselves as disabled there are laws that require reasonable accommodations. Asking Margaret to speak with my Service Coordinator, because I did not understand what she was saying was reasonable. By ignoring my request, Margaret broke the law. I would like your assurance that education on The Americans with Disabilities Act will provided to Margaret.
I would also like a written apology from Margaret. Her treatment made me feel small and useless. Traumatic Brain Injuries can happen at any time to any person. Prior to mine, I owned my own child care business, paid taxes and did not require social services or Social Security. My injury has made me a person who requires help and services; it has not made me a lesser person or one that deserves condescension.
Rough draft of letter I am writing to the Commissioner of the county social services because of the phone interview I had with the food stamps lady yesterday. Do NOT treat me like garbage, and like you are better than me, and ignore the law, and expect to get away with it. Copies of this letter are going to all the Disability agencies that work with me, and I haven't decided where else yet. I am not quite finished doctoring it up yet - still a rough draft.