Oh, the irony!

imageOnce upon a time more than fifteen years ago, when my husband was completely in the grip of crippling depression, anxiety, and panic disorder and therefore unable to work, I innocently entered into the process of applying for Social Security Disability for him. He had paid into the system for a number of years. We had three dependents in the household. His doctors were unanimous in declaring him unable to function at a level that would allow him to hold a job. It made sense.

But the months-long application process was cumbersome, onerous, demeaning. There were reams of paperwork on my part, endless phone calls, and requests for medical reports, and then my husband was required to attend an appointment with a government-appointed psychologist. After interviewing him for 15 minutes, this “medical professional” who had no familiarity with our case denied our application.

Distraught and exhausted I set it aside for a few months. We tried again. Denied. A few months later we tried again. Again denied.

And then we paid a visit to a legal aid office in a nearby suburb. Our new counsel was supportive and knowledgeable. Within six months we not only had a favorable decision, we had two years of back payments for the period of time when we were wrongfully denied. Victory, of a sorts. Healing for my husband was still quite a few years off, but at least we had a small income. It was in 2005 that he was able to return to work and leave the Social Security and Medicare system.

Fast forward to April, 2013. In a bizarre accident, my husband walked into a fast food restaurant and within three minutes sustained a painful knee injury from an enormous, unsecured slab of melamine that spontaneously fell off the serving counter. Trip to urgent care, x-ray, crutches, and three days off work – both jobs. He’s spent two months now playing phone tag with the human resources department of the fast food company and with their insurance representatives, trying to get reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages.

Finally yesterday, he received a call from this insurance company saying they definitely admit liability. However – IRONY WARNING – my husband cannot be reimbursed for any medical expenses because according to the Social Security Administration, he is still receiving Medicare benefits.

Let me explain. No, it is too much. Let me sum up. (Thank you, Inigo Montoya.)

SSA screwed us many years ago when we legitimately needed help. Now they’re screwing us when we have a legitimate claim completely unrelated to SSD, 8 years after my husband became truly ineligible for Medicare and disability benefits when he returned to health.

Supposedly a trip to the local SSA office should start the process of fixing this astonishing ineptitude. As you may imagine, I have my doubts.

I know many others have experienced the great joy of proving disability due to brain illness. I’d be fascinated to hear your stories – please share. Misery loves company, right?

Amy

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2 Responses

  1. God, your story sounds awful. I’ve only tried to claim once (should have many more times) and the process is stupidly stressful, considering you are applying *because* life is too much stress. A friend of mine with Chronic Fatigue was instructed to walk up and down to see if she could, and asked questions like “what would happen if you stood in a queue for two and a half hours” to which she could only answer “I don’t know- I would never put myself in that situation!”

  2. You’re exactly right about the stupidity of asking someone who cannot handle life in general to go through this process. There’s still such a ridiculous lack of understanding of the seriousness of these types of disabilities.

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