Playing the Waiting Game

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As someone who has never “officially” worked before in their life, getting monetary help from the government proves to be very difficult. I fell ill when I had recently turned 14 in 2011. This illness proved to be chronic and condition after condition piled onto my diagnoses chart. I am housebound and have continued to have gotten worse since the day I began to acquire those illnesses. In the government’s eyes, a person who has never worked, did not go to college, and who is not actively trying to get a job is trying to cheat the system. In some cases that is true, but increasingly, with chronically illnesses especially, deserving individuals are being denied when they desperately need the support.

There are two different types of federal government assistance that one can receive for disability aid. The first type is called Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). SSDI “is a federal insurance program to assist disabled (people) who are unable work and support themselves” (Andrew). People are eligible for this type of aid if they are under 65 years old, have a disability that prevents them from working, but who have worked a substantial number of years in the past. This previous amount of work is essential, because it is based on the payroll taxes that the person payed while previously employed.

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The second type of government assistance is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI supports the low to no income population of the United States. This includes those 65 years and older and people who have medical and psychological problems. “SSI is supported by finances coming from the federal government’s tax revenues” (Andrew). This is an extremely strict program. If you manage to make it through, a single person cannot have more than $2,000 to their name and a married couple no more than $3,000. They absolutely do not allow for you to save up unused benefits from a month, or you will be kicked off of the program.

As I have never been able to work, I am only eligible for SSI. A person can only apply when they are 18 years of age, so I waited four years until even being able to apply. I am now 22 years old. My first application was denied as it is very often done. The denial rate for initial application of SSI and SSDI in 2010 was 65%. A disability guide claims, “it is very common for someone looking for a lawyer at application for their SSDI or SSI claim to be told to ‘apply and call back when you are denied'” (Social Security). If you decide to appeal the decision like most due, you will be put into the Reconsideration phase. At this point, the denial rate is at 87%. I was denied at this point as well.

The next phase is where you meet with a judge and plead your case, most often with a lawyer. This is called the Hearing Phase. I just completed this phase at the beginning of this year. The Hearing Phase has an approval rate of 62%, because many believe it allows for people to actually put a face and story to all the paperwork. Right now, I am waiting to hear back from my judge (It has been 5 months now). We did not have enough paperwork at the hearing, but he allowed us a month to submit it to be reviewed. This is extremely unheard of and very very lucky for me. I managed to change the judge’s mind by going extremely in depth about my symptoms such as talking about my diarrhea, inability to wear pants because of swelling, and what not. This is crucial. It is your one time to explain how your disability affects your life.

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As I am hoping for my case to be approved, I pray it will not be moved to the next level. This is called the Appeals Council, where the denial rate is 74%. If you are denied again, the last level is to take it to the Federal Court where the denial rate is 40%. However these cited statistics are from almost a decade ago. The chance for you to be continually denied is extremely high. I have been in this process for 4 years now and am hoping to end it soon. I am hoping to follow up with a positive end to my case. With the rise of chronic, often invisible disabilities, it is extremely difficult to “show” the existence of said disability. Here is a list of disabilities that are considered to be disabilities under Social Security. Keep in mind, it is subjective to the people in charge of your case.

I really hope to be able to follow up on my case and to talk about SSI in general. It would be resourceful to make this a series of sorts, to help all of you out there starting or who are in the middle of this process. If I had any advice to give right now, it would be to get a Social Security lawyer and to plead your case. All those documents you have from those seemingly millions of E.R and doctors’ appointments, keep them! They will help your case. Submit anything and everything that you can. Lastly, if you get to the Hearing phase, please get graphic. Let that judge know every single little dirty detail of what you deal with and how it impacts you. We are all in this together.

Thanks for reading this article today! Have any of you succeeded in winning SSI or SSDI benefits? Are any of you currently going through the process? I really would love to compare notes. I need all the help I can get! Please subscribe for more great content and I’ll see you next time my Un-imaginables!


Sources:

Andrew. “Difference Between SSI and SSDI.” DifferenceBetween.com, 6 Jan. 2011, http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-ssi-and-ssdi/.

“Social Security Disability Denial Rates or What Are My Chances to Win SSDI or SSI?” What Are My Chances of Winning an SSDI or SSI Claim?, http://www.ultimatedisabilityguide.com/ssdi_ssi_denial_rates.html.

Photo 1“A tree ate my dollar” by Sarah Mirk is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo 2“United States capitol” by Maguis & David is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo 3“Judicial Bias in the Courtroom (Prof. Thomas Hornsby) – Coastal Law – 02” by CoastalLaw is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


23 thoughts on “Playing the Waiting Game

  1. I’m so glad I found a real person talking on this issue…yay! I know SSI too well. It’s not pretty, for me. I’m 40 years old and have been getting SSI since I was 16yrs old. I was in a state mental hospital, brought there from juvenile hall. I was suicidal and chronically depressed. I didn’t apply. The hospital did. To pay for my stay. A long stay. When I turned 18, I was released and continued to receive it. Till this day! My son is on the autism spectrum and recieved SSI at the age of 13. He just turned 18. I’m convincing him, “you’ll never be able to live and enjoy a free life with such a small amount of income.” (Cause that has been my life) Plus, he HAS the motivation to work and help people. We can at least try. When I first got SSI it was awesome. I didn’t have to worry about how to work or if I could… But I have had this measly amount of money for far too long. I feel worthless. I struggle. I have 3 children. I’m not a “needy parent” because of the SSI. I just survive. I get by. But not on my own. I reach out for help constantly. Its a joke how small the amount is. Every states pay is different. I’m in California. They say the pay is most here. Minimum wage has far surpassed SSI, it wasn’t always the case. For me, its time I test the waters of the working world. I want a better life. I cannot have that while a slave to SSI…
    I’m very happy you have it. I’m truly excited for you. So much worry alleviated. I do, remember the feeling. I wish you the best my dear. Again, I’m so glad to see someone else’s take on this subject. Warm regards friend. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • My apology. I thought you already recieved it. Its a lot of work when applying yourself. I had my brother go to a mental health clinic and have them apply for him.
      My aunt had Parkinson’s, took her 5 years to get approved. Parkinson’s! Like, what? Why so long?
      It seems everywhere I turn a homeless person with a mental disorder has SSI. Why not the people with documented physical problems? My opinion. The amount is not worth it. Unless, you don’t want a family, and have someone you can live with to share living costs. Then it’s great! Truthfully they need to raise the amount so a person can truly be independent.
      I wish you good luck!! xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • No worries! 😊 I have documented mental illnesses and physical health issues. So the time it’s taking is unbelievable! Yeah, unfortunately do to the diagnoses I have, I will not be able to have children or adopt. So I agree with you. SSI is good in this type of situation. I also very much agree that the government needs to raise the amount! Like 20 years ago.

        Hugs 🤗💓

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your story! I know what you’re saying. Working is a far better option. I tried several state voc-rehab programs to get atleast a part time job going. This lasted for several years. It was beyond frustrating and ineffective. They couldn’t help me find a job that would let me work from home. Plus I agree with you. They give you money, but want you to stay poor. You can’t save money, etc. I’m still waiting for the results of my hearing, so I don’t have SSI yet, but I’m really really praying I get it. I don’t know what I’ll do without it. Blogging and making money from it takes time… ughh I wish it wasn’t so complicated.

      Sending so many hugs to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think you are doing the best for YOU! Whatever happens, don’t give in or give up! You seem very strong and educated in the matter. I know everything will work out. You’re awesome!

        Big warm hugs xo

        Like

  2. I am so happy to have “stumbled” across your blog! Your tagline is so inspirational and intersects with my intentions as well! This is an informative post – it is really crazy how much we have to go through on top of the challenges of being ill/disabled, which are more than enough without all the added “stuff.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww your response makes me so happy! I’m glad to hear that my tagline is inspirational. I worked on it for a while and wasn’t sure if I should keep it or not, but I will now 😉 I agree. We have so many incomprehensible challenges that baffle most people. Sending you so many hugs! 🤗💕

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! Yeah, definitely keep it – it is one of those things I wish I had been able to articulate as well as you did! At any rate, disability is a crazy thing … I fought so hard for it and it wasn’t quite as long but it was thrown out once and when I came back with legal representation the judge literally said there was no job she could even imagine that I could work at the time, so it should never have been an issue. Just so many “life” issues on top of the illness issues. Thanks much for the response and I hope all is well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Things are up and down with me; I am having a lot of trouble with the side effects of being on steroids for so many years – especially with my bones and teeth. Trying to get the dental issues figured out is insanity. I am also fighting some kind of virus right now, which is never “just a virus!” I am sorry to hear it has been tough for you physically lately … that is difficult. I hope you aren’t in a lot of pain? Thank you for asking – I appreciate your kindness 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I kind of know what your going through with benefits, I’m on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) myself, and when I first applied for that I had to appeal the initial decision: I won.

    It must be weird to have to have to pled your case to a judge. How come the decision is made by a qualified medical professional?

    I wish you all the luck in the world with getting the support from the state that you’re entitled to

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you were able to win your case! I agree. It was very strange pleading my case to a judge. It was like the epitome of trying to “prove” that I’m sick. But in this case, their opinion matters. I don’t know. The whole process is messed up. Thank you so much for your support! 🤗💕

      Like

  4. 4 years? My god. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through all of this. It’s different in the UK but the benefits system is still a shambles – those who know how to abuse the system can do so very well and don’t seem to get stopped, while those who genuinely need it and aren’t able to work struggle to get the help they need and deserve. It’s appalling and truly the last thing you need when unwell. And you’re right about being difficult to ‘show’ illnesses especially ‘invisible illnesses’. Instead of looking at it as ‘cheating the system’ they should be looking at you and saying ‘this is so very unfair on this young woman, who didn’t even get the chance to start her working life’. My fingers are crossed for you lovely.
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so appreciate your support Caz! You are someone I can always count on and I am grateful for that. I agree, the system, in whatever country, is messed up. As well as vocational support. I’ve been for “job training” and with the progression of my illnesses, found that I would need to work at home. There is no place that can help you out with that. I just wonder how many jobs people are losing out on? With help finding the right one and getting accommodations, I could work from home, but there is no government support. So I’m forced to go the SSI route and am in a standstill there as well. The entire system from beginning to end needs to be redone. At least now I have a way to help others know that they aren’t alone. That is enough for me. I hope you are doing well xxoo

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I worked as a paralegal/legal assistant for 28 years. I was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis in 2005 and struggled to work while developing more issues like lymphedema. I finally had to accept that I was unable to work full time without being out on temporary disability constantly due to my health. It took just under 2 years after I initially applied for SSDI to be granted benefits about a month and a half after my hearing. I did hire an attorney after my initial application was denied. It was a long, difficult process. I had no income during this time. I was told at the beginning to apply for SSDI and SSI. That was a detriment and caused more trouble than it was worth as I ended up getting SSDI bc of my significant work history. I would advise anyone applying with a substantial work history to NOT apply for SSI. It’s very difficult to go through this on top of being sick. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I hope it works out well for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is insane, I thought the Australian government was bad. (I’ve been on the phone to them three times this week trying to sort this out). Suddenly, I am so grateful! I am so sorry you have to struggle with this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is insane! I appreciate that Bethany 🤗 I think most countries have a major problem with this area. When it comes time to helping their citizen’s, it’s hard to create standards that are accessible, but won’t allow cheaters through. And don’t even get me started on invisible disabilities 🙄 I hope you’re doing well today!

      Liked by 1 person

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