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ME/CFS: A disease at war with itself
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SSD Hearing (or, how I just became officially disabled)

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by zoe.a.m., Feb 1, 2011.

  1. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    Olympic Peninsula, Washington
    First of all, I just want to thank those who helped me to find resources for finding a lawyer 4 wks before my hearing date (was suddenly moved up by a year).

    Otherwise, I'm totally confused.... My hearing date was today and I had contacted my lawyer yesterday to tell him that I would be unable to travel to the hearing due to illness and to ask what my options are/were, and after a few conversations and the promise to find out whether or not I could give testimony over the phone, I received a call from my lawyer stating that the judge had decided to approve the claim effective Jan 08, approximately 1 year after I filed the claim. I've actually been unable to work since 2003, but I was so stumped by the whole not-needing-a-hearing thing that I decided to accept the offer--though there was the possibility of not accepting it and going through with a hearing.

    I'd love to hear from others who have been through this process because I feel like I just landed on the moon. I have no clue what happens next, if I got a good outcome, and, the inevitable feeling of "glad that is settled" and "wow, I'm officially disabled," etc. etc. There was something hopeful about being in the grey area, like 'magical thinking' that maybe something would change everything before it ever came to this. My feelings about 'the system' are pretty abysmal, but here's to hoping that maybe SSD will be a better support than my family has been?!

    Anyway, is this the norm?
  2. helen41

    helen41 Senior Member

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    Sleepy Hollow Canada
    Zoe, I can understand your confusion. It must seem so bizarre to have this huge buildup, then a little phone call and suddenly you are done. Such a huge change in your life with no fanfare. I am Canadian and don't know about SSD, but I do know that winning deserves some recognition, even if it is 2 years retro rather than 7 you asked for. Here goes...
    :D:D:balloons::thumbsup::victory::Sign giggle::hug::Sign Good Job::cool::Sign Good one:
  3. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    Thanks Helen! Man what I wouldn't give to be from Canada, or at least have dual citizenship (but I doubt they're looking for more ME/CFSers at this point)!
  4. helen41

    helen41 Senior Member

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    Sleepy Hollow Canada
    We have our challenges in Canada too. I'm just glad you now have some security. It's so unfair to have to worry about money when you should be focusing on your health
  5. camas

    camas Senior Member

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    Oregon
    Congratulations, Zoe! :balloons::balloons:

    I had a similar reaction. I was all geared up for a battle when I found out I'd been approved on the first application. But after it all finally sank in, it felt pretty damned good.
  6. paclabman

    paclabman

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    For me anyways, it was kind of a good news/ bad news thing. It was really a relief to know that SSDI would be there for financial support and that I wouldn't end up essentially being forced back into a working situation that I couldn't handle - and had totally broken me down. But then there is the reality that I was disabled.

    You may find that it's a bit .... um ... distressing when you get the paperwork in the mail. There's something about seeing it on a page in black and white.

    I'm not sure about your timeline, but the award is probably effective back to a year ago. I assume that somewhere along the way you gave the SSA some direct deposit info for your bank account? You will receive a deposit from SSA for the retroactive part of your award. I assume your lawyer will be paid from this amount (his fee is fixed by SSA).

    There is the 5 month waiting period for SSDI. Assuming that the Jan 8 date already takes that into account and that it's retro to last year, you will be eligible for Medicare next Jan 8.

    Acceptance of disability comes in stages as we go thru the grief process. My psychologist tells me that we periodically revisit this, but hopefully each time it gets better.

    I also had a similar experience when I got my Pacific Fat. Lab results. I knew that exercise shouldn't make me feel worse and it was great to have lab results that showed where the problems were. But after I researched it a little, I realized that i wasn't capable of independent living. I just hadn't thought of it that way - my wife does so many things. The last 3 yrs I worked, that was pretty much all i did. I would come home and collapse and need all weekend too to get ready for the next work week.

    As many others have done, if I had to live along I'd find some ways to cope with it and compensate for what I can't do. But independent living really means holding down a sedentary job, doing the shopping, bill paying, car maintenance etc that are all part of "normal" life (not sure what that is anymore .... ).
  7. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Congratulations Zoe!!!
    You should really celebrate.
    After such a long fight to finally be done with it and win is great.
    SSDI should send you a check for all the backpay they owe you since you filed your claim.

    Relax.
    I know you have been used to be in a fight mode.
    It's great news.
    I'm really happy for you.

    Nielk :victory:
  8. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    Congrats Zoe!

    I'm currently also in the "don't-quite-know-what-this-means-yet" camp. I was happy to finally be approved (just recently, I know I said i was before but they kept taking it back!) and the moeny coming in will really help a LOT.

    That being said, I'm going through a strange bit of grief over it. I say strange because it's not a normal aspect of being approved to mourn. I remember reading somewhere years ago that disabled persons are elligible for a free US National Park Pass...and I obviously can't make use of it so there's no point in getting one. I grieve my loss of the outdoors, and it just seems like a cruel joke that the moment I can no longer enjoy it they make it free for me.

    I should mention that it isn't a huge change for me, as my disability was already official (had a disability parking pass) but for some reason it's just hitting me now. I've never before wanted so badly to have to pay a parking fee.
  9. glenp

    glenp "and this too shall pass"

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    Vancouver Canada suburbs
    WTG Zoe

    I am happy to hear that battle is behind you now.
    Cheers -- with root beers!!!!:victory::victory:

    glen
  10. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    Fellow SSD/SSDI(ers): I just received my 'award' letter yesterday (they seem to always send the knock-the-wind-out-of-you info on Friday or Saturday I've noticed) and am shocked and horrified by the amount I've been given. I haven't found other threads here dealing with the ins and outs of specific amounts, but maybe I didn't search enough...? I am looking for advice on what to do when the amount is so tragically funny that you realize that there is honestly no way to survive on that amount; I figure the $500 I've been awarded would pay for a month of supplements ($200-$250), some food, and maybe a few prescriptions, if they are only copays. I honestly feel like it's an invitation for giving up completely--it's offensive and absurd. It's true that the economy is awful (and has been for a lot longer than acknowledged) and poverty is spreading like a disease, but for a person who can work, there is at least hope for a change and something to do in the meantime.

    When calling SSD when I got the approval letter, I was told I would have no case worker and that there would be less support available in a few months after further budget cuts. Is it really the case that the sickest and most disabled population is left with no one to answer questions about how they should try to find options or any solutions? Living with a family member is not an option as my family has consistently said that they welcome contact when I "get back to my old self and move forward..." SSDI seemed like a possible option, but I'm shocked, amazed, horrified at the rules involved and it seems even having a car can disqualify a person (though mine doesn't meet the $2000 maximum of property one is allowed to own), but something is terribly wrong here imo.

    Is anyone else in a similar situation? How do you cope? This system has a way of ripping out any tiny scrap of carpet you manage to get beneath you as you process "I'm disabled" "I'm marginalized" "I'm waiting for more information" "They pick and choose their information really creatively" etc... I feel like crap even putting these questions, and my situation, out into the world and this place specifically, but it's a lot to process, so I hope it will be okay.
  11. urbantravels

    urbantravels disjecta membra

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    Los Angeles, CA
    Were you awarded SSDI or SSI?

    http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/ans...social-security-disability-and-ssi-disability

    If SSDI, it is based on your past earnings history and how many Social Security "credits" you've earned. The disability benefit you are entitled to appears on your annual Social Security statement. It is not "means-tested," meaning it does not matter how much property you own or money in the bank; it's insurance you have paid for via deductions from your paycheck.

    If SSI, it's need-based (i.e. you would not qualify if you have any money or property), not based on earnings history, and it's a very small amount. It was always explained to me that SSI mostly applies to people who have no significant work history, and to children.
  12. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    Hi urbantravels,
    I believe SSDI (seeing as I'm eligible for medicare), and the amount does seem like it reflects my having to stop working at age 26. My understanding of SSI is the same; I just can't figure out who/how one lives on $570/mo.? (and how it's possible that there is no further assistance...)
  13. SSDisability

    SSDisability

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    Zoe

    For SSDI, you do not have to worry about having more than $2000 in assets in order to be aapproved. That is for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which pays out less than SSDI and is in place for those who have not paid into the Social Security system throughout the years. If your looking for more information on SSDI and SSI, I've always been able to find what I'm looking for at http://www.socialsecurity-disability.org
  14. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    Albuquerque
    Hi,

    I know, this is terrible! I was told that SSDI would be the same amount as I would receive as a retirement benefit (based on work record)--and that you would just start getting this amount at an earlier age. If you were married for 10 years, you might be able to get disability based on your ex-husband's work record. Just a thought.

    Sushi
  15. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    Olympic Peninsula, Washington
    Yeah, SSDI is unaffected, but SSI has crazy standards. Then, I found out that state-wise, I should be able to get my Medicare premium covered, but federally I was turned down. So, not only have you got the various agencies, you've got what your state's limits/rules/programs are (or "aren't" these days)...

    I actually feel lucky right now, because as awful as all of this is (and it IS), we at least have a context in which to get some assistance, whereas the thousands (100s of 1000s) who have gone through their unemployment have nothing at this point. Where I am, for a person in that situation, they can $192 maximum help per month (that is if they zero income and nothing at all in the bank--every dollar they have would be deducted from that $192) and are eligible for up to $200/mo. in food stamps. Imagine trying to keep yourself, or god forbid, a small family together on less than $400/mo. The government (for the past 30 years) should be hanging their head in deep shame. The US is not far off at all from having the majority of its citizens living in total poverty--it's only a matter of time. It's immoral and unforgivable.

    Sorry for the deviation, I just have been fed up for so long. Now (maybe potentially beneficial?), the lines between who's impoverished, disabled, etc. are vanishing right before our eyes.

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