Answers to Questions

Is VESID a good thing?

Maybe.  Conceptionally, VESID (NYS Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities) is a great idea.  Putting it into practice falls on human beings with various levels of competence.  In Syracuse, VESID appears to be doing at least as much harm as it does good. People reporting from other regions say that the Syracuse office is much worse than VESID offices in other areas. 

Can VESID help get me an apartment?

No.  VESID’s job is to get people who are disabled ready to go to work.  Its mission is employment, not housing.  For housing for people with disabilities, see the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which has affordable apartment buildings all over the place.   To search for a subsidized apartment, go to  The rent is basically one-third of your income.

If I’m on disability can I get Section 8 housing in New York State?

Section 8 housing is based on income level, not disability, but being disabled usually makes you poor enough to qualify for Section 8.

Section 8 basically comes in two different forms:  vouchered or project-based.  In one case, you get approved for a voucher that you can take to any landlord who will accept it.  Some landlord’s like Section 8 vouchers because it’s a government guarantee that they will get paid.  Other landlord’s won’t accept it because it brings in “that kind of people,” i.e., poor people.  The voucher is portable and you can take it anywhere within the county of issuance.  The problem is that HUD isn’t putting enough money into the voucher system.  There are too many people who are qualified for Section 8 vouchers but can’t get them.  The waiting list in Syracuse is five years.

The alternative is project-based Section 8 in which the Section 8 attains to the building not to the person.  You only get the low rent as long as you stay in the building.  There are HUD-subsidized Section 8 buildings with anywhere from 24 to over 200 apartments.  The waiting time to get into one of these buildings is usually from 30 to 90 days.  Some HUD-subsidized buildings are exclusively for the elderly but most are elderly and/or disabled.  Most published information about buildings is incorrect.  You have to call the building manager to get accurate information.

By the way, do not be misled by the appearance of HUD-subsidized apartment buildings.  Because they have to meet federal guidelines, they always are well-maintained and look good.  That doesn’t mean they are happy places to live.  Your happiness will be based on three things:  (1) whether you are moving from a place that was better or was worse; (2) the compassion of the management, and (3) how you get along with poor and/or sick people.

In my building, which has 176 apartments, 83% of the tenants have an extremely low income, i.e., below $10,000/year.  The majority are disabled and between the ages of 50 and 65.  It is clean, safe and affordable—and no fun at all.

Can a sixty-three-year old black receive Medicare or Medicaid if he has terminal disease such as cancer?

Medicare is usually based on age; Medicaid is based on low income.  Neither have anything to do with race.  There is a “catastrophic illness” category in which a patient with cancer or other devastating illness may be eligible.  Assume you are eligible and file applications for both Medicare and Medicaid.

I have had both Medicare and Medicaid since I was 52, based on disability.

Can God use elderly or handicapped people?

Yes.  God uses anybody who has a heart that is open to love.  God, unlike Americans and families, does not turn his back on people who are elderly or disabled.  He has a path for each of us to follow.  Bible study and prayer will show you the path that God has for you.  Mother Teresa pointed out that people are hungrier for love than for bread.  Old and/or handicapped people are very able to give love.  What form that will take—telephone support, knitting blankets, doing advocacy work—is up to you and God to discover.  Call your local volunteer center and ask them what they need people to do.

Does Medicaid transportation still come to get you if it is snowing outside?

Yes, according to policy.  Maybe, according to reality.  They will make every effort to get to you for one simple reason:  the transportation companies are privately owned and they only can stay in business if they are out earning money by carrying patients. 

You are responsible for keeping your driveway and/or sidewalks shoveled so the Medicaid transportation driver can get to you.  In some cases—after being warned—a transportation company will refuse to carry you if you’re not keeping your access clear.  A company owner may pull his drivers off the road in blizzard conditions when it’s totally unsafe, but that is very, very rare.  And they always will get you home if they brought you out.  Drivers are not wimps; they are pretty tough professionals who take pride in getting the job done when conditions are bad.

What can people do with disability that others can’t do?

I don’t understand the question.  Resubmit it in different words and give a specific example of something you have in mind.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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