After her interview with Ann Curry of NBC, in which she stated she was not collecting public assistance for the octuplets she delivered or for her other six children, Nadya Suleman has come under even more scrutiny. It was only a matter of time before a news reporter discovered the source of finances for Suleman and her large brood. According to the Los Angeles Times at least two sources told the paper Nadya Suleman receives not only Social Security income for three of her first six children but also food stamps.
Granted, $490 in food stamps barely provides a month of food for a family of four. Food stamps, or the debit-like card provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is still a federal assistance program. According to the USDA website, Suleman and her fourteen children could have a gross monthly income up to $6587 (Oct. 1, 2008, through Sept. 30, 2009, income guidelines) and still qualify for some level of federal food assistance. The three children receiving SSI cannot obtain SNAP assistance from the federal government because California adds a benefit to their SSI.
When our family of three received food stamps almost twenty years ago, there was no question that the food stamp program was a federal program administered by individual states. The amount of paper work and documentation required to apply was an indication that food stamps was a federal welfare program.
If Suleman is receiving $1800 of monthly SSI benefits for three of her children, those children must be getting some kind of medical assistance as well. Depending upon the disability, the children could also be receiving physical or occupational therapy. Her three-year-old son, Aidan, has autism and will, according to Suleman, require SSI longer than the other two children who receive it. The children receiving SSI must be screened periodically by medical doctors to determine if they qualify for the SSI benefit.
Yet Michael Furtney, Suleman’s publicist, says she does not consider those things public assistance. He does not deny she receives these benefits. By the way, does Furtney get paid to be Suleman’s publicist or are his services donated?
When asked by Curry, Suleman stated that she had difficulty providing for her first six children well before her octuplets were delivered. Until 2000, she was employed as a psychiatric technician. After that time she was collecting temporary disability payments for a herniated disc in her back, an injury received in a state hospital riot. She and her children were living with her mother Angela Suleman in her mother’s home in Whittier, California.
According to a Los Angeles Times report, Nadya owes about $50,000 in student loans, yet has intentions of returning to graduate school for eighteen months to complete a master’s degree in counseling. By doing this, she will accumulate additional debt. If she is able to get a job in the counseling field, she may be able to have part of her student loans received from the federal government waived. Incidentally, Suleman said in a second interview with Ann Curry that she would raise her children with the money she received in student loans.
When I went back to college to receive my Bachelor’s degree, I received federal student loans. I also worked the maximum number of hours I was allowed per week under the work study program. Our family of three relied on the federal food stamp program and state medical assistance even with that income. After college, I became pregnant and devoted myself to being a full-time stay at home mother. We paid off all of my student loans when my husband got a full-time job after the birth of our second child.
The Huffington Post reports Nadya Suleman is seeking public assistance of another variety. She has set up a website on which those sympathetic to the needs of her children can donate material resources or money by way of a credit card.
At one time, there were five family members living in our house. We collected no medical assistance, food stamps, or other welfare and lived on my husband’s income as a security officer at a medical center. It was and still is difficult to make ends meet. If Suleman can raise her fourteen children without welfare, it will be a bigger miracle than the birth of her octuplets.
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-octuplets11-2009feb11,0,1790195.story More detail about assistance available to Suleman.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29135989/ Summary of a second interview with NBC’s Ann Curry.