As with most people that have a long-term debilitating ailment, I’ve tried to apply for disability through the Social Security Administration.
The first time I applied, I filled out everything as truthfully as I could. I was honest about the conditions I was dealing with, the medications, and the uncertainty of getting treatment. So as far as I know, my condition will be lasting longer than 12 months. It has impaired my ability to work at certain jobs. I really lucked out finding a position where the people are understanding and acknowledge that when I need to sit and stop moving, it happens. As much as I hate to admit it, even working at a desk job is hard to handle. With the small amount that I have to walk, and when the pain really flares up, getting up and ready in the morning is a struggle.
I wait for three long months for a response. When the response came, they said I was denied because I made too much money at my current job. At the time I was working maybe 15-20 hours a week.
The part I don’t understand about disability (truthfully there’s many parts) is how they expect you to survive if you aren’t supposed to be working and you have to wait at least three months to get a response. So, of course I looked that up and it’s stated on their web site that you are allowed to make a certain amount of money per month in order to still be eligible. This is called the ‘substantial gainful activity.’ According to the SSA you can only make $1,170 per month, and not be able to work more than 32 hours a week.
Okay so, let’s do the math here. You can make up to $1,170 per month. So, that means any normal person will have to start receiving food stamps and medicaid. All of these things can take up to 30 days to get approval/denial. For one person, the most you can get, per month, in food stamps is $194. Rent alone can average between $500-$1,000 depending on your current living situation. And if you’re married? Forget receiving any food or medical assistance.
Thankfully I have a supportive husband so if I was suddenly unable to work, or needed to drastically lower my hours then he would help in any way he could. But being a stubborn and relatively independent person, I could never ask for his help.
If you want to receive any benefits you’ll have to be living just barely above the poverty line. In 2017, to be considered living in poverty for one person is making $12,060. According to the SSA you can only be making $14,040. So, what do we do? We get ourselves out of bed somehow, every morning, to try and make a living so we can have a place to sleep and food to eat.
Even though 70% of disability claims are denied in the initial stages, I decided to give it another try. Approximately six months later I tried applying again after I had lowered my hours to what SSA would prefer. It wasn’t easy, but I did it to see if it might work.
Another three month wait for another denial. I guess I just have to bite the bullet and keep working even though the struggle is real, every day. About 5-6 days out of the week I will wake up feeling pain and stiffness. And anyone who has dealt with pain for a longer period of time, they can understand the amount of fatigue that comes with the pain.
Trying your hardest to ignore the pain, to push through it, maybe find a way to make it stop, or just getting a decent night’s sleep. All of those things can cause fatigue that makes getting up and getting ready in the morning more difficult than it should be.
I’ve come to the realization that the only possibility for getting disability is to hire a lawyer to advocate for me, and to help me weave through the system. But who has the money and time to deal with that. I know I don’t.