Today I was thinking about something a little different than the usual stuff. My mind is on disability, specifically Social Security Disability. It has been a tremendous blessing to me, since without it I would be up the creek without a paddle, as they say. The last time I tried to work I lasted three weeks and ended up calling in sick like five times in that short time. I simply could not hold down a job and had to quit. I told the human resources people that I was dealing with a lot of depression (which wasn’t a lie) and bowed out gracefully from that job. Working had become something that I was unable to do and I would have to figure out something else to support myself.
At this time, I had recently been diagnosed as schizoaffective and put back on medication. The doctor at the hospital where I received this diagnosis talked to me about disability and mentioned that I probably qualified for it. I thought it sounded like a good idea but I didn’t immediately get the ball rolling. I ended up returning home to South Carolina from where I was staying and tried to get a job instead. I was able to get on at a Walmart since I had experience working at Walmart before and ended up in the meat department there. I would soon find out that it was too much for me to handle, with paranoia and depression being the biggest things I dealt with. I felt like the government was sending people in there to harm me and I found it increasingly impossible to get up and go to work each day.
I basically didn’t work for a long time. I simply couldn’t. Luckily I had family that were good enough and supportive enough to take care of me during this time. If not for them I could’ve been out on the streets, for I had no resources or anywhere to turn to. I applied for SSDI, which is Social Security Disability Insurance, a program for those who have worked and paid into the system over a number of years. I learned that I must have been out of work for at least a year (which I had) and have at least ten years of work experience paying into the system (I did). I went through the lengthy process and waited for months, eventually being turned down. I was crushed, to say the least.
At this turn of events, I was advised to get an attorney. I did and he told me that Social Security denies most applications on the first go-round, and it is common to have to appeal or re-apply your case. He talked to me and asked many questions, coming to the conclusion that I had a good case and agreeing to take me on as a client. He informed me of the rules for his payment, basically that he didn’t get paid unless I won my case and that the SSA (Social Security Administration) has a maximum amount he can charge me for his services. I agreed to all this and signed some paperwork and everything was set in motion. I now had an attorney fighting for my disability and I felt a sense of hope for the first time in a while.
After several months I would hear back from the SSA that I had been approved. It was a tremendous weight off my shoulders and reason to celebrate, even though I didn’t actually do anything special. I felt that I would be okay and able to support myself finally. Disability is a huge blessing to those who need it and I am thankful that I live in a country where help is available. I paid into the system for many years and feel that this is what I was working towards for all those years. There are many who say that disability is welfare and that people just don’t want to work and are gaming the system. I don’t know about everybody else but I honestly could not work and needed this. Disability has made the difference between me surviving and being taken under. I am by no means getting rich off of disability but I am thankful for what I get. I can now support myself and that has made a huge difference in my life.
For anybody that doesn’t know, the SSA has a website: ssa.gov. There you can find many resources about SSDI and SSI, a similar program for those without a work history who are disabled. You can also apply for benefits online and get the ball rolling with that. It is an excellent resource and one that I have taken advantage of on many occasions. There is a lot of good information, FAQs and all sorts of articles meant to guide you through the process of applying for disability. There are also sections on retirement and all the other things that Social Security covers but I haven’t really used them as much. For anybody who is applying for disability, know that it is a long process. If you are denied the first time you can get an attorney who will not charge you if you do not win your case. And above all, do not give up. It is a lengthy process but it is worth it in the end. I pray that everyone who needs this help gets exactly what they need today.