Hi, I've had SLE for 15 yrs but the last couple of years have gotten worse. It is now affecting my brain/central nervous system leaving me paralyzed on the left side, bouts of blindness and of course the ever present pain. More recently I was also diagnosed with a severe case of gastroparesis. As many of you know when we are combating several issues at once there is no way to be reliable in the workplace. I have a friend who lets me work part-time at her store under the table so it doesn't affect my SSI but lately those days are few and far between. I am also in college full-time so I do not think I could handle a job and school at the rate I'm going. Most days I can barely handle getting out of bed. So my problem is, of course, how do I afford to live? I get $647 a month from SSI and after I pay rent and other bills I have less than $200 left for the rest of the month. I then have to factor in gas money for numerous doctor appointments (my rheumatologist is across the state!) all over...also several prescribed medicines that weren't covered by insurance so I buy them otc and of course, food, which I have to by daily because I never know what won't make me sick day to day. And it is a very limited diet. It gets very expensive. I tried turning to DHS to get food stamps but they only granted me $14 a month! That will only cover one pack of protein shakes I have to drink! I tried arguing my case with them but they said all my medical "expenses" did not count towards my living expenses...I'm really at a lost. I was wondering if anyone knew of somewhere else I could turn to help. I would really like to live independently but there is no way to even make ends meet even by pinching every penny.