Living with disabling rheumatoid arthritis and poverty


I can work. I am skilled.  I am experienced.  I want to work.

But here are the problems:

I can only work part time.  Very part time.  About 10-15 hours per week. And I can’t tell my employer which 10-15 hours I will be able to work. I will need to work those hours when I am capable of working. 

Which means a job with very tight, immovable deadlines is not the best idea for me.

I believe there should be opportunities for me, because with out work, I live in abject poverty.  Well below the poverty line. I have raised my kids below the poverty line, but htye have missed out on nothing they needed.

I have missed out on much. I have always put them first and I will never regret that choice.

But if an employer had offered me work, that need not have been the case.  That need not be my future.

But why, when an employer can have an able-bodied person, would they choose a disabled person, with multiple limitations?

They woudn’t. Unless they had a personal desire to help.  Or there were some other incentive. 

The government disincentivises disabled people from working.  When I tried to sign up for a job search provider I was asked ‘Why are you doing this?’ and told ‘there’s no requirement for you to work!’ and finally ‘we can’t help you.’

I could try again.  But I need to have a medical assessment with Centrelink.  And a job capacity assessment.  This would take eight to 12 weeks to organise.  After that, I would be entitled to help from a job search agency. 

Instead, I have started businesses. My bracelet business kept us living pretty well for many years.  Then covid came and ruined that.  Now, I have a pigment business, that while not as successful as my bracelets, does pay the bills. Most of them, anyway.   We survive.  Will live a very basic, spartan lifestyle. There are no luxuries, but I am lucky I have my own house, and we will always have a roof over our heads.  Others are not so lucky.

I have been looking into online money making ideas.  Watching endless youtubes on how to make passive income.  And I have decided to try my hand at making puzzle books.

I used to love doing puzzles.  Sudoku, crosswords, word searches.  When I was a child, when we would go to the beach on holiday, we used to relax on the beach and I would do puzzle magazines.  More recently, in hospital stays, or times when I can’t walk, or do much of anything, I still do puzzles.  Keep my mind occupied.

So I have started.  And I will blog about progress, what I am doing, how much work I am putting in, and whether I am making any actual money.   It will be an interesting experiment. 

I know some people are making good online incomes.  The goal is a passive income, create something once, sell it many times. I know it is possible.  What I am going to find out is if it is possible for me.

Let me know if you want to hear about how it goes, if I should blog about it. And wish me luck!


  1. I would be interested in the follow-up. I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis but I do have osteoarthritis and am in pain every day. I am 70 now, but have had arthritis since I was 42. The pain I experience everywhere is hard to cope with every day and I don’t know how I do it, but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    I understand your work limitations. I needed splints for a clerical job but was discouraged from wearing them because the bosses might think I was going to file a workmen’s comp case. I had to walk every lunch and break just to keep my back loose.

    I was going to try physical therapy to help with pain, but the evaluating therapist said I only had fair potential to help my joint pain, so I gave up on that.

    I admire you for doing so much with your circumstances. Not everyone could keep going with those limitations.


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