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John Bakke, Fargo, Published December 08 2012

Letter: Social service rules make life more difficult for people with disabilities

By John Bakke

I would like to point out a problem regarding quality of life for many North Dakota residents with handicaps, at least those who depend on North Dakota Social Services.

I am a client, and I receive help with housekeeping, meals, laundry, etc. However, even though I drive an electric scooter, I am unable to take my cat to the park next door, attend an event like “German Days” at Rheault Farm, go to a movie, a concert or WeFest, just for a few examples, because I need someone to accompany me. Social Services will not help me with anything like this; they won’t help with anything they call “socialization.”

They say I need to get help with that from friends and relatives. I know of many others, like myself, for which that is not an option.

It gets worse. If one is approved for help with what they call “communication,” and a client’s handwriting is not legible, a caregiver is allowed to take dictation for applications, writing checks, etc., but not personal letters. In my case, I haven’t seen my 93-year-old mother, who lives 100 miles away, in more than a year. She is almost totally deaf, and if I write to her, she can’t read my illegible handwriting, yet Social Services won’t allow a caregiver to take dictation from me for a letter.

This is ridiculous and sad. I paid North Dakota income and property taxes for 43 years, and I (as well as many others) deserve better.

I understand North Dakota is sitting on more than a billion dollars in oil tax revenue, and much more is expected. I have read that the Legislature is considering what to do with it, but none of the things listed mentioned help for social services. The interest alone could make a huge difference in the quality of life for North Dakota’s handicapped residents.

Shame on the Legislature for not doing anything about this. I’m hoping some legislators read this and it affects their conscience, and that other people will take this to heart and ask their lawmakers for more help for their fellow residents who are handicapped.