Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Monday, February 04, 2013

Disabled, lazy, irresponsible, faking, system leaching me

Quickly, my cat is much better.  Last night she just got better.  Actually I sat on the floor and cried and talked to her about telling me when it is time for goodbye and that I want her to be comfortable and happy but also I want her here.  I cried so much my shirt was covered in snot because she'd moved past all the lines I'd set for knowing she had quality of life.  Suddenly she was purring.  A while later she was hungry.  It took my giving her about 10 choices of foods but finally something tasted good and she has gone straight forward from that point, even cuddling with me for a nap today. 

I am going to leave facebook tonight.  I may come back.  I may not.  Facebook has become something that causes pain too often.  I do not have a sense of humor at the moment about people's seemingly constant judgements about people who are on diisability, have disabilities, or use any form of public assistance.  Tonight a real friend posted something about bad attitude being a disability.  Which led to comments about how people on disability are fakes.  I try to ignore but question the morality of always staying quiet, plus it makes me really mad and so sometimes I say something.  Today I was actually proud of myself as posted that it was too bad that being judgmental wasn't a disability, huh ladies.  Now going back to facebook upsets me as I wait for the attacks.  One has come, defending herself the typical way that I honestly don't even read.  "I know/my neighbor/I've heard of this person who has nothing wrong but the doctors make up reasons for him to be on disability while hardworking people don't get it when they should."  Then there's the inevitable statement that this is fact, not her being judgmental and she has no problem with people getting assistance who really need it.  This person's page is set to show her devout Christianity.

So let's break some of this down.  First, name calling is always vile.  My calling them judgmental was as bad as what they said although I just realized this.  This is why I hate speaking up; sometimes I find I am as bad as they are.  Second, if you looked at me and knew I was on disability you'd probably think I was faking it.  I do limp slightly and in the summer my ankle brace shows.  But the things that mean I cannot work aren't visible to the casual eye.  I read somewhere last year when I was filing for social security that the Social Security Administration constantly gets people who are saying "my neighbor is out shoveling snow and walks all over town, and she's getting disability.  I wanted you to know that she's faking it and wasting taxpayers money".  It sounds like the social security people just sigh. It's called an invisible disability and doesn't mean I'm not disabled even if you think you know what you are talking about.  If you know someone  who is making tons of money under the table who is disabled via social security rules then yes, please report.  I just don't think that happens nearly as often as people think (while inserting that my ex-SIL did this with a full-time babysitting job and it infuriated me). 

Next, it is HARD to meet the medical restrictions for disability.  That's why the process is so long.  And unfortunately it is human dependent.  That means that even the state you live in affects how long it takes and even worse how likely to you are be approved without appeals.  That's why they are beginning to use computer programs to sort out people whose initial paperwork/medical records show they are so clearly going to qualify that it is a waste of time to extensively review things.  That's how I was approved.  I carried out step one, which is a very detailed report about every little thing in life and whether I could or couldn't do them.  Dr. Mind submitted a form that said much the same along with a lot of observations about my ability to cope, my ability to complete hygiene, etc. and it was pretty clear from that form that I was in very bad shape.  At the same time medical records were coming in.  Dr. Brain showed me 2.5 years of records just from her and it was 3" thick.  The records from my hospitalizations and her monthly visits with me that showed me declining and fighting to work for 10 years helped.  I don't know if she filled out a form or not.  I don't know if Dr. Mind's records went in or if any of the records regarding my asthma/allergies or ankle problems went in.  I do know that enough records arrived to show that I was clearly too disabled to work.  I also know that this is very unusual for a mental health claim.  That's more difficult to prove and they make it hard to fake.  In my case I can only say that there was a lot of evidence that I was working for many years when I was far too ill to do so.  That's true for plenty of people and I don't know what besides sheer volume, my suicide risk at that time, and that I honestly was not able to bathe more than a few times \per weeek made it work. In general after the step I experienced 70-80% of claims are determined to not sufficiently prove disability and thus are denied.  The person then appeals by filing basically the same paperwork.  Not many people are approved on that appeal (I believe 15% of those who file it) and after that they file for a judge to review the case.  Unfortunately due to backlog this can take a few years.  The system is set to try to catch the most disabled before this point but the system is flawed.  If a computer doesn't select you are truly crazy then all of your medical records, assessments by yourself and your doctors, and other paperwork is reviewed by a non-medical person.  I cannot even imagine how hard that is given that my Cleveland Clinic records alone would have run to thousands of pages and I requested they review every psychiatric record I had going back to graduate school, plus records for things like asthma and the chemical-induced nature of my attacks that was a problem in home health (people's homes) and facilities (cleaners, air fresheners).  After that voluminous review is done the non-medical person takes it to a medical person and discuss the findings.  The medical person either makes a determination or requests more information, including having you examined by a doctor working for social security.  That layer is important.  People always say that people on disability manipulated their doctors.  The thing is that the doctor (and other professionals) must be ethical.  Unethical providers certainly exist, but they also show up on monitoring if someone is referring 33% of their patients for disability or something.  And the  system prevents you from having one doctor say one weird thing is wrong with you and nobody ever questions that.   We all have a right to apply so the doctor can't stop it but they fail to provide strong support.  One reason for negative determinations is the doctor failing to provide paperwork.  I think this is how many doctors avoid supporting claims they don't agree with.  I've seen the papers; it is an immense amount of work for the doctor so they are unlikely to do it if they don't believe it is valid. Plus in many cases working is good for people as long as it is not truly beyond their abilities.  If I'd said 5 years ago that I wanted to quit trying I think I would have been strongly encouraged to keep going a while longer.  My doctors wouldn't have been able to support it as strongly then.  Dr. Brain clearly told me that she'd always known this would happen and for 10 years had documented accordingly.  That made a huge difference in how things turned out for me.  And in those years I wracked up twice I was fired, numerous job changes, etc.  Things that add credence to my inability to work.  And if they want to social security can follow up on that as you also release them to review your work history with former employers.  I don't think they often do, but I've never read a definitive statement on this.  Back to the process.......if you make it to the judge you have a pretty good chance of being approved at that level.  However by that time you have been through a financial nightmare since you've not worked in a long time.  There are further steps but I don't know them.

The thing is that people fall through the cracks.  I struggled with that when I was approved because I felt I got off easy.  I kept thinking about someone in my support group who'd been going through the process a long time.  The difference was that I had an extensive work history that she didn't have.  She'd tried working and it never worked out.  I also have my history of medication after medication being trialed to the point that it's hard to say anything hasn't be tried, and the records from 3 long psych stays in 3 years including the one with all the notes about how dangerously suicidal I was while in the hospital.  (I think I'm older by a good bit).  So yes, I was very blessed/lucky.  But I just had so many things that fell together to affect my outcome.

One of the things that was observed was that during the worst of the recession and in states hit hardest was that more people applied for disability.  Often it was people who had worked with a disability for a long time, became unemployed and when work didn't appear they decided to try disability out of desperation.  States like mine got very backed up.  One person I know took 5 years to get disability and from the outside you'd think he was pretty likely to qualify.  But the length of time also sorts out people who don't really need it.  If you have an option and know you won't be paid for 2-3 years IF you are approved which you know is not certain, you think twice.

Finally, and with no elaboration because I've said it before, SSDI is INSURANCE and NOT assistance.

I'm so tired of people.  My facebook issue has gained one support for the person who was uneducated about her opinions, none for me.  I'm now off facebook.

I also haven't eaten in an extremely long time.  I probably should do something about that.

Once you are approved you are not just allowed to dangle forever.  They classify you as review in 1 year, 3 year, 5 years or terminal/having a disability that will not change (progressive diseases of the nastiest sort). 

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