Fighting for Disability - You Can Win
Last updated: August 2015
One of my biggest struggles thus far has been the consistent fight with Social Security and receiving my disability, something I was warned about but did not honestly think would happen. I've paid into Social Security since I was eighteen, all the way up to the last day I worked when I had my stroke, it was my money I had a right to it.
Sadly, this has not been the case as I was denied my disability the very first time my application and paperwork was sent through the endless amounts of red tape. Here is the undeniable fact that most do not realize:
In the real world, Social Security will deny almost 80% of all claims the very first time. No matter what the situation, they will deny and if you don't believe me, let me tell you a story.
A friend of mine (identity kept confidential, you'll find out I vehemently protect my people) found out four years ago that she has severe COPD, she's on oxygen almost 100% of the day (and night) and only has one functioning lung left. She filed for disability shortly after receiving her diagnosis and she was denied.
This woman can barely make it out of bed some days, can't walk to her husband's truck without being on oxygen and on such a vast variety of medications it would make some people weep. Most of the time she is in bed and on those rare days that she feels good, she struggles to go outside and sit on her front porch to get some fresh air. She was once a vital, functioning part of society, worked her tail off, paid into her disability same as all of us, but the government told her she wasn't disabled enough to receiving her benefits. I wept for this woman when I found out.
She decided to fight for her disability, which is her right and contacted a law firm that specializes in disability cases. Roughly three years from her diagnosis she was awarded her disability, she is on Medicaid now and receiving treatment. While she is far from being the person she once was, she is now able to take better care of herself.
The sad part of this story is that the reason the government now denies so many claims is that too many healthy individuals have taken advantage of a system that was designed to help those of us, like my friend and like me, who can no longer take care of themselves in a traditional sense. Now, to ensure that only those that are truly disabled receive their benefits you must be willing to go through a series of brutal red tape and jump the legal hoops. While this may seem like a good idea, two main problems arise. Number one being that too many of us have learned to rely on the government to do our thinking so when our application for disability is denied, we believe the government 'knows what's best for us' and we stop the pursuit of the benefits we busted our bodies for all the years we've worked. Number two, when we decide to fight for our benefits and find out just how long the process takes we just give up, we don't want to deal with it we'll just suffer quietly. These two problems are very, very wrong and a by-product of spending far too many years sitting on our duffs and not standing up for ourselves.
When I resigned myself to the fact that I would not be able to work because of chronic migraine and subsequent anxiety and depression as a result of my condition, I called Social Security and got the process started. When I spoke to my friend, she immediately told me to retain a lawyer and gave me her firm's phone number so that I could get both balls rolling at the same time. The day after the telephone interview with Social Security, I was in my lawyer's office and we began to the daunting task of fighting the government. I was denied within 180 days from the day I filed, called my lawyer that morning after reading the letter and I am patiently waiting for my hearing – which I should be getting something from them soon as to when I am to appear. I've had very little to worry about since retaining my lawyer, she does all the work for me – I just contact her regularly to see if there is anything else I could be doing or if I receive anything in the mail from Social Security. I mail in a migraine log to her regularly, let her know of doctor's appointments and medications I'm taking and sometimes we sit and chat. She's a wonderful woman that I trust completely to do the right thing for me and I am glad she is on my side.
The bottom line is that we do not have to sit back and allow pencil pushers to dictate how disabled we are. You know your condition better than they do, why are you going to allow them to tell you if you're really disabled? It makes no sense.
If you are thinking of filing for disability, whether it's because you know your body well enough to know that you can't work or your doctors finally tells you there's nothing more they can do, you will be in for a fight but you do not have to do it alone. Disability lawyers know how to get through the red tape and they will be with you every step of the way, plus they do not expect payment for their services up front – they get paid when you finally win your case and receive your disability – all you are out is a little bit of gas and a few hours of your time at the first consultation. After that, they take the fight off of your hands, you only have to keep in contact with them, file the necessary paperwork as it comes in and you can concentrate on your own body.
I hold out hope, everyday that maybe I won't have to be on disability forever. Maybe if I can find the right medication sequence that brings me back to somewhat normalcy I can work again, which is something that I do miss more than anything else I've lost since the migraines began. Our dad bore it into our skulls throughout our lives 'girls, if you can wake up and swing your feet out of bed and onto the floor, you go to work' so my work ethic has always been exceedingly high. I have days that I wake up and can swing my feet to get out of bed but what happens when I stand up dictates whether it's going to be a good day or a bad day. It's now a fact of my new life.
Don't give in and don't take 'no' for an answer. Remember you paid into Social Security, not the morons that want to be lazy and not work or the illegal immigrants. You have a right to your own money, don't let the bureaucratic red tape and circus act scare you.
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?