And we start!

Wow, 2015 already…why do I feel so behind and it’s only the 3rd?

I have a lot to do and a lot to get caught up on, and I’m starting with this here blog o’mine. 🙂

The trip to Lapland is over, and I’ll post some pictures, but suffice it to say that it was a wonderful, lazy vacation, made even better by having my youngest daughter there. She hibernated like a bear, but when she bemoaned all of her sleeping, we went over the things accomplished, and realized that she had done everything we had set out to do, so why shouldn’t she sleep? And ergo…she sleeps. 🙂

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Now, we are back in Helsinki, we’ve done some shopping, and today is her last day here with me, as she leaves tomorrow. 😦 It gives me a frowny face, but I am hopeful that she will return, perhaps in the summer or autumn, once more.

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Now, on to some business.

Got a letter back from KELA regarding them designating my medication under a B certificate. Seems they want the test results of various things, which I have had done, but I need to get from my doctor in New Orleans. So, once Wellu translates the KELA letter, I will email the doctor in the States and HOPEFULLY he (or rather, his assistant) can email those documents to me. I’m concerned there will be some sort of HIPAA hiccup in which he has to mail them, in which case I’ll have them sent to my mother’s address and then she can scan and email them.

In the meantime, for January, we have a decision to make. Do we pay the full 2000€ for the meds, with the intention of getting reimbursed 100% (less 3€) for the meds, or do we go forward as if we are in the current plan, get reimbursed 35%, have it count towards the deductible, and then only pay 1,50€ each successive month? It gets rather confusing, but I think we are going to pay for the meds (which has to be done in January, regardless), and let it count towards the deductible, which I think I will have met at that point, and only pay the 1,50€ each month after that. We ‘lose’ the money paid in, but I’m not sure how long this is all going to take, and I’d rather not have to pay out the 2000€ each month until it is figured out, and then wait for a refund. Clear as mud, eh?

Getting medical services is not as clear cut as the socialists would lead you to believe. And it’s not just for us immigrants. I’m hearing similar bureaucratic nightmares from native citizens, as well. Well, we now know that the U.S. doesn’t have a lock on paperwork red tape stories. If you come over to stay, bring your full medical records. The summary that I brought obviously doesn’t cut it.

I start classes on the 12th of January. They are five days a week, so it’s quite a commitment. As I think about arranging my schedule, I realize just how much freedom I’ve had these past few months, and it’s a bit jarring now to think of having to be somewhere EVERY. DAY. 🙂 Well, except weekends and holidays, of which there are plenty. Unfortunately, the lady at TE hasn’t replied to my email to confirm that she is making the change to my records for the class, so I’m feeling a bit apprehensive about how soon the benefits are going to start being paid. My calm in this is just to realize that it will happen when it does, and to just keep checking on it each week. Thank goodness for email (that doesn’t get answered, but whatever).

A bit of TMI…I think I have hit ‘that time’. Hot flashes galore. Isn’t so bad right now in the winter…but I hope this is all over by summer! Never thought it would come about, but gads and begora….here it be. 🙂

I might be official, but it’s still complicated.

I picked up my residency card the other day (complete with horrid picture), and decided to head to the TE office and Kela the next day to start the journey to getting my benefits started. Wow, what an education.

First off: the TE office. You have to go there first, get registered as a “client”, and then you can go to Kela and tell them you are registered as a jobseeker, and start the process for unemployment benefits.

The way to think of it is this: TE makes the determinations as to what status you are (this is regarding unemployment), and will tell Kela. Kela actually disperses the funds.

In any case, I registered as a ‘client’ of TE, as an unemployed jobseeker. However, we hit a few snafus. Because I don’t have a degree, or any sort of certificate from a vocational school, there would be a 21-week (aprox 5 month) waiting period for unemployment benefits. In addition, any studying I do on my own (such as Finnish language classes) need to be cleared with TE, as that can affect payment status.

Additionally, I was scheduled a Finnish language assessment test (can’t we just skip that and go with ‘0’ as my starting level?), which will tell them where I should be placed for their intensive language course — which already has a waiting period of an undefined time.

After that, I will have my actual interview, where they will go in to more detail on my rights and responsibilities as a jobseeker in Finland, and this is when I will put together my integration plan with the TE office that is submitted to Kela.

Things I still need to provide, which you may want to keep in mind if you are coming here. Any job held in the past two years needs a certificate from the employer that states who you worked for, essential job functions/responsibilities, dates you worked and why you left. Apparently this is de rigour in Finland, but since it’s not in the States, I have to get one typed up from my last employer. And since I owned my own business in the last ten years (sold in 2007), I have to type up a statement or show that I did sell it. Good luck on me finding the sales paper, although I’m sure I scanned it somewhere. 🙂

I also have to get a certificate from the Finnish language class that I am taking now, saying that I am enrolled and what the level of study is.

Now, let’s move on to the Kela office. The wait wasn’t so bad. I was 14 numbers out when I got there, but my number was called within 15 minutes or so. They do move fast. Sat down with a nice fellow, who had me fill out an application for benefits, although he said, and this is the big thing, nothing will move forward until Social Security approves me…and they don’t start their approval process until they receive notice from the Police that my residency was approved. It shows in the system that they got the notice of approval on Oct 28, and he said it could be three months before Social Security gives their approval. THEN the paperwork that I am filling out with Kela will move forward.

He did say that I would receive something in the mail with the Social Security determination, and if approved, then my Kela card should arrive in the next week or so.

I have a doctor’s appointment in mid-November, and as a resident of Helsinki, they should accept me without the Kela card, which we have confirmed they will. Also, to cover the meds for my MS, I should ask the doctor to fill out the form to give me a “medical certificate B” type of Kela card. This way, the meds that usually cost 1912€ and are only at a 35% discount, will be covered at 100%. Much better. Keep that in mind if you have some issue like I have. If I get this form from the doctor in to Kela before everything is approved, they can send that sort out; otherwise, they send out a new card.

As for the unemployment benefits. Currently, I am looking at close to May before those would start. However, if I enroll in an intensive language course (which is defined as a 20-hour or more a week course), then they can waive the waiting period and pay me unemployment at a student rate for those months. So I am currently looking at courses. The lady at the TE office gave me her email address and said that I could send them to her and she would let me know if they qualify before I actually register.

In closing, pretty much everything is in the computer, just waiting on Social Security before anything can move forward. It’s the typical pitch of “Hurry up and wait” found so often in dealing with the government. I think I got it all accurately described above. There’s quite a bit of ‘do this first, then this, but this has to be done before that’ sort of confusion.

In fun news, Wellu and I went to the Moomin Shop this morning before my class. He loves me and bought me the silly advent calendar that I really wanted (yes, I am a fool for the little Moomin figures). He indulges me so much. And I got two reflectors, one for my backpack and the other for my jacket. I don’t care if “adults don’t wear Moomin reflectors”, as he says. I do, and I am proud to do so. So nyah!

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Let’s wander around a bit.

Today was somewhat productive, if not always in the way that I had set out for it to be.

Started off the morning with a series of emails between myself and the TE office. Earlier in the saga, KELA had said that I needed to get documentation from TE that I had attempted to apply there, but was turned down because I didn’t have my residency card yet (this is after they said I should be able to apply with just my Finnish SSN). TE emailed me back and said essentially that KELA had no idea what they were talking about, we don’t do that, so if they want some sort of proof that we’re denying you, use these emails. Not the outcome I wanted, but at least it was a ‘final answer’.

Then, headed down to the Familia Club ry, in order to join up and get enrolled in a Finnish language course. That went well, although I did get turned around a bit, walked all over the City Center, but with the help of Google Maps, finally found my way — retracing steps that I had already done twice before. Apparently, I zigged when I should have zagged. But place found, annual fee paid, registration made. I then read the pamphlet on the bus, and realize that I been signed up for the course so basic it is for folks who do not yet know the Latin alphabet. So, I can be tops in my class! Yay! But, the course does teach some basic Finnish phrases, so I’ll stay in it. It does give me something to do twice a week.

After that, I went to go meet Wellu at the University for lunch, but since I was arriving a bit too early, I decided to go kill some time at the Arabia Mall. A small mall, but there was a nifty discount store that I managed to drop a few shekels in before heading to the safety of the University. We did some rounds of being introduced, then ate lunch and chatted a bit. After that, I went to the grocery store, get dinner stuff and came back to fix said dinner stuff (yes, my life is getting a lot more domestic).

Did find this car in the parking lot. I’ll bet it can be had for cheap :):

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After dinner (which actually turned out well, despite my trepidations), I made phone calls back to the States. My mom. My retirement fund company. My bank. My retirement fund company again. The apartment complex re: my deposit (45 days to get it back??), my youngest daughter. I’ve got lots of forms to print out and send off, but hopefully most of the drudge work will be done before I get back to the States for the Thanksgiving break.

Here is a random picture of some of the fall color to finish off the post with. 🙂

Fall foliage at the campus.

Fall foliage at the campus.