October 28, 2014
... But Deliver Me From Bureaucrats by Bruce Atchison
In spite of my being almost blind, I consider myself wondrously blessed. Thanks to the heavenly Father, I have a beautiful house in a tiny hamlet. It's so peaceful here that I feel like I'm on a permanent writing retreat. Furthermore, I get up when I feel like it, eat when I want to, and I have no physical boss breathing down my neck.
So what's wrong with all that? When I was laid off from the federal government in 1995, the personnel worker placed me on unpaid leave for two years. I received disability pension cheques each month from Sun Life and the government. The reason for the unpaid leave was so that I could have two extra years of pensionable income.
Since I'm still permanently disabled, having lost my left eye to a hemorrhage in 1988, Sun Life sends me a letter each year to confirm that I'm still disabled. Canada Pension Plan, on the other hand, audited me in 2003. My case worker wasn't happy with my doctor's note and the tax forms I had to send in. I never did find out why that was. After ten months, my case worker said in a letter that I was approved to remain on CPP disability BUT warned that I could be audited again at any time without prior notice.
The sword of being investigated hangs over me, even though I haven't received that dreaded telephone call again in more than eleven years. As a result, I worry that I could be cut off from half my pension money at the whim of a distant, dispassionate bureaucrat.
I'd love to be free of that worry but it's the price I pay for being on disability. When I was laid off, a job skills counselor suggested that I should take up freelance writing after I showed him tear sheets of fan magazines which published my music reviews. I also showed him the government newsletters in which my articles about recycling appeared. This seemed to me a golden opportunity. I could write at home while doing what I loved.
Freelance writing and being an author hasn't paid well. Nevertheless, I'm glad I have the freedom to create without the pressure of making a living. Even so, I still live with the haunting suspicion that the next phone call will be my case worker in Ottawa with bad news about my pension.
While I can, I'll spend the next seven years and two months searching for writing work, writing short stories, and promoting my books. I shouldn't worry but I do. Even so, I know intellectually that the heavenly Father will work something out for me. Now that knowledge needs to work its way into my heart.