Tag Archives: The System

DISABILITY~ A TOUCHY SUBJECT

Social Security Disability is a total Disability program. Benefits are given when the “condition” is 100% disabling. Social Security Disability isn’t given on the basis of a condition that is temporarily disabling.

Disability Definition- an individual must have a severe impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for a minimum of one year.

Where does the money come from? Social Security Disability is funded by taxes. Employees are taxed 6.2% of their Income.

Proving Disability- Proving Disability isn’t as easy as people think it is. Once upon a time that may have been the case. There’s no dispute that some people took advantage of the system. Improvements have been made, I’m not sure if they were positive or not. I can only go by my own experience.

Stigma of Disability- For some strange reason, people think I sit on my couch all day eating Bon Bons, drinking Champagne, and watching Soap Operas. That I’m the happiest person ever, I’m free from the bonds of working. There is resentment. Little comments are made. “Of course you can do that, you don’t work”. That’s a nicer comment.

Every time I talked to my best friend on the phone somehow the subject of “people who don’t work and take advantage of the system” would come up. She works for the Post Office. I can’t really blame her. They are forced to work overtime and hardly ever have 2 days in a row off. She also spent years delivering mail to low income housing and would see so much that angered her. Child neglect, young girls having more children when they couldn’t afford the three they had, guys on Disability doing manual labor they shouldn’t have been able to do, all of this got to her.

When she complained about it she would always add at the end “You know I don’t mean you, you need it”. After awhile it was harder to believe she didn’t mean me.

She called me for the first time in a long time on Sunday. We talked for 2 hours. When the conversation came around to “people who don’t work” I let her rant. When she was done as calmly as I could I said “From the age of 14 I started paying into Disability. When I was managing Blockbuster for years there were times I made up to $45,000. I didn’t tell anyone because I was ashamed I made that much and had nothing to show for it. I drank it away, I spent it on clothes, make up, hair products, salons, perfume that was $200 a bottle, I took my parents to Vegas, I paid for little getaways for me and my sister just so she would spend time with me, I bribed my own family with gifts, but I still paid into my share into Disability”. I also told her “If I had known what I would have to go through just to get Disability, I’m not sure I would’ve done it. Between being mocked and humiliated by DHS and going before a Judge that was so rude I had to watch my father hold himself back with tears in his eyes at the time it didn’t seem worth it.”

She had forgotten about the woman at DHS who pulled a Donald Trump and mimicked my stutter. I was upset to the point that my father took the phone from me. When he heard what she was doing I thought I would mess my pants. My father’s mad voice is like Darth Vader only worse. He never uses curse words. That day he did.

While going for Disability I had to sit in front of a Judge and answer questions. The Conversion Disorder was at an all time high, I had just been diagnosed with it. (Some people get better with a diagnosis and some worse) My lawyer had spoken on the Senate Floor about Disorders like Conversion Disorder and was extremely knowledgeable. Very rare.

When the Judge asked his first question I was trying so hard to talk clearly that I made my stutter worse. The Judge said “What? Didn’t you take your meds today?” The way he said it was almost with a snarl. I could see my dad out of the corner of my eye. My heart broke for the hundredth time. I tried again to speak but it was worse. The Judge was becoming irritated. I didn’t know my lawyer was giving him enough rope to hang himself. After a few more insulting comments my lawyer finally stood up and said “Your Honor did you read what my client is diagnosed with?”. Judge “Yes”. Lawyer “Then you know she has Conversion Disorder which causes her to stutter under stress? Because I just did an entire presentation on the subject on The Senate Floor because it is a Disability.” At this point the Judge looked upset. He stood up suddenly and said “Give it to her” and left the room in a hurry. I sat there and cried.

I’ve paid my dues. Monetarily, physically, and mentally. I’m tired of trying to make people understand or worrying what other people think.

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THE WANDERER

She carried a heavy backpack everywhere she went. She could be seen walking one hour in one city and the next hour in another. It seemed she never stopped. It’s a small state so most people had seen her at one time or another.

The salon I worked in years ago faced a busy street. My workstation faced the big glass windows overlooking the street. This wasn’t so great for me because I get distracted easily. I like to say I’m just very observant. I won’t tell you what my boss said about it. I always noticed the walking woman, with what seemed to be the weight of the world on her shoulders. She walked repeatedly by the salon on certain days.  I knew somehow that she was mentally ill by her mannerisms and the repetition of her actions. I had seen this behavior before. I knew she wasn’t walking for her health because of the clothes she wore and the fact that she was smoking while walking. She also walked with a purpose. For years I watched her, she refused handouts or charity and always looked clean.

At the end of June “The Wanderer” passed away. Her family wanted everyone to know her story, so they gave interviews to the local paper. When I read it I cried for hours. I saw my mom, my Aunt, myself, my Uncle, pieces of every mentally ill person I’ve ever known.

She was 69 when she passed away. She came from a family of six children. My mom came from a family of seven. She had a mother who was unable to stand up for herself and a father who was physically and verbally abusive. My mother had the opposite situation. She was known as “The Protector” in her family and so was my mom.

“The Wanderer” dropped out of school and worked at assisted living facilities, helping mentally challenged adults. My mom dropped out of school in the 7th grade to work with my Grandmother in our only State Run “Mental Institution” called the IMH.

She married young and had four daughters. They are not sure exactly what happened except at some point their mother suffered a breakdown and left the family. They were then raised by their father. There was at one point a divorce.

Their mother remarried several years later and she tried to see her daughters more. She had three children with her new husband. One girl and two boys.

Her older daughter knew not to count on her to show up for family functions. Sometimes she would and sometimes she wouldn’t. Her older children could see that there was more going on with their mother than anyone was saying.

Unfortunately she never got diagnosed. Their mom was smart, but socially awkward, she wasn’t good with money, spent exorbitant amounts on clothes then couldn’t pay her bills, and she had issues with her body image.

She did manage to hold down dome jobs through the years. She refused state assistance. As time went by she became worse. She began to think mind controlling chemicals were being sprayed at her through her workstation. She became increasingly paranoid, thinking the company was out to get her. She quit.

She would admit to her family that she heard voices but not to anyone else. This made the family’s attempts at getting her the help she needed useless. She wasn’t a threat to herself or others so the family’s hands were tied. She began bouncing from one family member to another, all the while still walking as much as she could. If anyone asked too many questions or was too intrusive, she moved on fast.

Eventually she ran out of family members willing to take her in anymore. She stayed in homeless shelters and would disappear for months. At one point her family found her and tried to bring her to a hospital. When she realized where they were taking her she jumped out of the car while it was moving on the highway. Having been in this state’s hospitals I really can’t say I blame her.

She disappeared again and relied on the community who were friendly to her. She would stay at a 24 hour Laundromat at night. The state still couldn’t help even though she did put herself in danger by jumping out of a moving car. Elderly Affairs couldn’t help, no one could.

The family received a phone call that their mother had fallen in front of a 7-Eleven and had a severe laceration on her head. The staff knew who she was and made sure she stayed put until an ambulance arrived.

The Hospital (I won’t name it but I’ve been there and my mother died there) was going to just release her after they stitched her up until ONE DOCTOR  decided that something else was going on and ran more tests.

“The Wanderer” was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer in her Liver and Lungs. She had weeks to live. She went home with one of her daughters. The family had to jump through hoops trying to get Medicare and Hospice for their mom. She repeatedly kept saying she just had to “walk it off”.

Her last days were filled with grandchildren, children, and rest of her family and friends. She sat outside with her oldest daughter laughing and sneaking an occasional cigarette. Her daughters were with her when she passed and wanted people to know that she WAS LOVED.

Sometimes people who are mentally ill make the choice to live outside the system. My Uncle Jimmy did and was happy most of the time. It breaks my heart to think of him buried in Potter’s Field, no wake or funeral. It was his choice for the most part. I am scared it will happen to me and not by choice. That I’ll be alone, my family will be done with me. It’s getting close to that now. It’s the tears. No one knows how to react so they get defensive and angry.

 


Being Your Own Advocate!

When it became clear to me and the people around me that I could no longer hold a full time job I applied for Disability. It was a long, degrading process. If I hadn’t had a lawyer that specialized in Bipolar Disorder and Conversion Disorder I never would have gotten it. It was a long drawn out process. I finally had to go before a judge. He wasn’t a pleasant man. When he started to ask me questions and I stuttered and had trouble finding the correct words he said “What? Didn’t you take your meds today?”.  It was at that point I started crying. I could see my father sitting in the corner of the room with his hands in a fist and a look of rage in his eyes. My lawyer at that point spoke up and told him the facts. My lawyer had spoken on the Senate floor about Conversion Disorder and other disorders like it. He knew his stuff. He was disgusted with the judge. There was another problem. My Psychiatrist was just copying the same thing in my record every time I went. So it looked like I had 1 diagnosis and not the actual several that I really had. My lawyer brought this up also. The judge hesitantly gave it to me.

Most people get a review in about 5 years. Not me. I get a review every 2 years or so. Even though my doctor and other doctors have said that I have actually declined and not improved. They say I will continue to either decline or stay where I am. Where I am isn’t great.

I checked my records recently with Medicare. My Psychiatrist is doing it again. Cut and Paste. It has one diagnosis listed. This interferes with Disability. When they look at my records and see the one diagnosis it makes it worse for me. He has admitted to me personally that he hates paperwork. He has complained about the amount of paperwork he has had to do for me.

I started working on the books at the age of 14. I always worked. Starting at 14 it was every summer 7 to 3:30 p.m at the jewelry factory. I didn’t go to the beach or hang out with friends, I worked. At 16 during the school year I managed a Hallmark store at night after school. In the summer it was the factory and the Hallmark store. I then started working for a Video Rental Chain. I worked up to 60 hours a week for 13 years. What I’m saying is I paid into the system. People think you are just looking for a free ride. When I started a new career as a hair stylist and my symptoms became worse I had no choice. Clients have a tendency to back away from you when your hands shake with a pair of scissors in them. I couldn’t work with the public anymore. I was having meltdowns in the closet everyday.

I’ve decided to look into a new doctor. If mine can’t take the time to properly keep an account of my records than why should I go to him? I also noticed that he bills them for an hour of Psychotherapy when I’m only there for 10 minutes.

The point of all this is to check your records or files. Make sure your doctor is being accurate. You deserve that.


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