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Fighting for Disability – You Can Win

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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Jules2dl
    4 years ago

    Despite the fact that I hired a nationally known ssdi law firm, it took over 2 years before I was finally approved. I was surprised to learn that you only need to prove that you will consistently miss 4 or more days of work per month to qualify.
    Disability has been a blessing because now, for the first time in 45 years of migraines, I have the luxury of being able to hunker down with my ice pack without the guilt and worry of missing work.
    It is definitely a battle worth fighting,that’s for sure, but I heartily recommend hiring a law firm familiar with ssdi.

  • SydneyL
    4 years ago

    I’m 20. I had to drop this semester of college (and I’ve missed a lot from college and high school, even elementary school due to migraines), and I also can’t really make it to work right now because I’m going through cold turkey off Treximet due to MOH.
    I just got a job in August, and I’ve already missed about a week due to migraines.
    I’ve been thinking about disability, but I haven’t worked that long, and it says you should work for 5 years at least?
    Can I still apply and fight for it? I can’t even go to school right now. It’s terrible. I’ve been afraid of getting fired because I can’t make it to work sometimes. I’m afraid I’m going to get fired from this job that I just started because I need to take off days to recover from this withdrawal (and it’s terrible, especially when I really don’t have medicine to help the pain).

  • Krissygirl333
    4 years ago

    I too , was denied the first time , as expected. The good news is when you apply for disibility you get back pay when you do win for all the waiting.
    My wait was 2 years. That’s the way it is because so many ppl apply. In the meantime , yes, keep up your diary of pain, dr appointments, and list of Meds. If you miss out on anything , put that on calender too.
    Good Luck. I’m 54, had migraines since I was 18. Been thru every gamit of Meds. I will take sumatriptan , it sometimes helps, but I’m fearful of it. I once signed a paper at a Neuro office that it can cause strokes. Ahhhh hello? Not interested in a stroke. Is this the only med after all the years of research? What a side effect?
    Sorry went off subject
    Good luck migraine friends
    I get 12-15 a month

  • Shelld
    4 years ago

    I get you! I panic when I go through my NINE imitrex I’m allowed to have per month . Since they went generic it’s like half strength if it even works at all. I’m getting older and worry a lot about the stroke issue but what can you do- pain, no pain I like no pain

  • ThreeGals
    4 years ago

    I am one of the lucky ones and was able to obtain SSDI my first attempt. I actually fought it internally because I was always incredible active and worked since age 15 (disabled at 44). I truly believe in the “killing them with the details” comment! The one thing I would add – a gained tremendous support and assistance from my local Congressional representative. I was shocked by how willing they were to help me and to truly understand what I was experiencing.

  • Nicci
    4 years ago

    Ladies,

    God bless you for sharing and I wish the best for you in your quests!

    This is a tough, tough one for all of us. I’m really struggling with “need” and “deserve” and “enough”.

    Do I really “need” disability? I feel like I should not feel/be like this. Most of my migraines are silent, so other than the days I have clear pain, I’m always in a state of prodrome/postdrome. I’m depressed, burnt out and just ineffective!

    But do I “deserve” disability. Like Stacey, I’ve worked since I’ve been 14… and for the past 13 years I have been self-employed — thereby paying BOTH halves (employer and employee) of social security tax. But… there are people who have it so much ‘worse’ than me. Like you gals… or Stacey’s friend.

    I’m a do-er. An overachiever who isn’t achieving like I should be, but achieves, nonetheless, apparently more than most people…

    But what if my guts let loose and I poop myself I’m a big presentation? I’d die. I can’t hack an flights… I get to the location, need to present, but I’m in brain fog. Find I’m blithering I’m meetings or blowing them or can’t remember what was said!

    Am I “disabled”? I’m “differently-abled”. If I can stand the sunlight, I can go help Stacey’s friend (or Stacey). I just can’t be 100% relied upon. And if I go to the store for you, make sure I have a list and I don’t need to drive during “searing headlight time”.

    Am I “enough”? Am I disabled “enough” to convince MYSELF, who doesn’t want to accept it even if it’s true… much less some bureaucrats.

    How do I continue to volunteer if I file? Can I work at all? I’m dwindling my savings. I’m founder of a nonprofit. I’m single… no partner income in my household.

    I think I have to accept how this is impacting my life — but do I deserve? Do I need? Am I disabled enough… in my own mind and others’?

    Was it clear cut for you?

    I don’t have disabling pain constantly… I have a brain that isn’t fully functional. When it does function, like you ladies, it functions at a very high level. But it’s fickle. Very.

    Thoughts?

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    4 years ago

    Stacey A,
    Your story is very inspiring. It’s so hard to hear of stories from people who truly can’t work and need SSDI. I, too, was denied the first time. Then I learned to kill them with details. The group I used to help me through the process was amazing and took a lot of the burden off of me. I was approved in 5 months.

    Most attorneys don’t get paid unless your claim is approved. So there’s no harm in retaining one. For anyone contemplating this process, these resources might help:

    http://migraine.com/blog/disability-income-preparation-guide/
    http://migraine.com/blog/disability-means-not-mean/

    Thanks so much for sharing your story!
    Best Wishes,
    -Katie
    Migraine.com Moderator

  • 23r1c5h author
    4 years ago

    Thank you, Katie

    It broke my heart when I was denied, I figured that if I paid into it, I should have a right to have it when I need it. I had a good long cry over it for a few days I won’t lie but I’ve since tightened the boot straps and dug my heels in.

    My lawyer is fantastic and we are following along the same lines as you and your group, the migraine logs I send her will be strong evidence that clearly there is something going on that I can’t control and need help in getting treated properly. I’ll have my written journal in hand when I go before the judge for better details and I have an older sister coming in from Kansas City who will be a witness if need be.

    Some days it’s hard to face the fact that we have to fight our own government but we live in a country that allows us to do that and that’s when I’m grateful for where I live. I’ll be extremely happy when this battle is behind me but the way I see it, I am better armed to help the next individual that needs their SSDI and don’t know where to turn and the reason I posted my story. We are all in this together.

    With much love and respect
    Stacey

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