Aug 11, 2017

One Writer Describes What It Feels Like To Be Disabled

     From Robert Fowler writing for the Washington Post:
... A few weeks after my stroke, when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to work, my wife drove me to the Social Security office to apply for benefits. After stacks of paperwork, it took several months before my first trip to the doctor, for a psychiatric exam, where they asked me to count to 100 by sevens. It should have been simple, but about halfway through, I stumbled, and felt humiliated. More questions passed, and more confusion. A very thorough physical exam came next. And then there was a very thorough check of our finances, including the number of cars and bank accounts we have. Months on, I still haven’t received a single check. Without help from family, I would be homeless, despite over forty years in the work force. To them, I am forever grateful, but also deeply ashamed. 

In a world where we’re all expected to carry our own weight, I fully understand why my fellow taxpayers don’t want to carry mine. But what I don’t understand is that the lady who helped me with the paperwork at the Social Security office told me disability was not charity. What I am to get out is based on what I put in. She told me to stop crying because it is money I have earned. So In a world where we’re all expected to carry our own weight, I fully understand why my fellow taxpayers don’t want to carry mine. But what I don’t understand is that the lady who helped me with the paperwork at the Social Security office told me disability was not charity. What I am to get out is based on what I put in. She told me to stop crying because it is money I have earned. So why do I feel so much shame? 

I was raised with the feeling that public services should be kept to an absolute minimum, and that people who received government assistance have no class, and should have taken better care of themselves. Three weeks after my stroke, my wife of 41 years lost her job, too. She was upset due to my prognosis, and spent so much of her time taking care of me (making sure, for example, that I could turn off the burners after cooking, and make it around the house on my own) that it was hard for her to make it to work. Without her job, we had to apply for food stamps. When we first received them, I was so humiliated I wouldn’t even go to the store with her. I was afraid and demoralized. 

I would gladly work, just to hold my head up again. And I believe most folks like me would prefer a hand up to a handout. It’s just that a hand up is much harder to come by in circumstances like these. I didn’t grow up poor, and I didn’t intend to become poor: Somehow, it just happened. The poor are rarely in a position to defend themselves. I see that now, and I refuse to judge a panhandler these days. I just thank God I’m not in his shoes yet, if he has any.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

The article answers some question of why the backlog and claim delays matter...also why it's important to keep fighting those who want to cut Social Security benefits and other assistance programs.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, I think he's lying. Everyone knows the psych CE asks you to count down from 100 by 7's, not up.
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/sarcasm

Anonymous said...

With no income from either partner, they may be eligible for Medicaid (depending on the state, resources and other factors)and the home based services offered through that program allowing the spouse to return to work and help the income situation while waiting for benefits.

Strokes are rarely approved early as there is often improvement within the first 90-120 days, about the processing time of the initial claim, which would likely be denied on the chance of medical improvement.

Question, does writing freelance articles, like this one help his case or hurt it as it proves that he has some capacity to perform work.

I do like that he was opposed to others having benefits until he needed them.

The average cost for a disability income insurance policy is 1% - 3% of your annual income.

Anonymous said...

Social Security disability doesn't care how much money you have in the bank or how many cars you have. The first person filed for SSI in addition to Social Security. SSI is charity/welfare/needs based. Social Security is not--based on number of years a person worked.

Anonymous said...

I am a person with disabilities who worked very hard until I couldn't. I'm 61 years old now and am so poor that I think I lived too long. How do I know? I know because as an adult with no minor child at home I, too, had to go on food stamps. First amount years ago? $200 a month. I just got approved for the next year. Amount allowed for each month? $24.00. The only conclusion I can draw from that is that the government also agrees I have lived too long.

Anonymous said...

Does writing stories circulated in a national media outlet help or hurt your case when you say you are unable to perform work?

Anonymous said...

I hope he will lobby law makers and write his representative to give the correct portrait of the disabled.

Tim said...

"Quality" is a word that has been perverted to "find any excuse to deny" anyway! I would use "Quality" to mean "make the right decision!" However, there are way too many low payers who apparently have a different idea of what "preponderance" of the evidence means. Few people would ever be convicted of a crime based upon their standards!

"Just because he was holding a knife with blood from the dead man doesn't mean he actually was the one who killed him! After all, even though he said he did it and his two friends said they saw him do it, the expert we hired said he could not have done it, because his horoscope said he was innocent!" "Furthermore, the dead man's x-rays don't show that he was wounded or that he had any pain. Plus, his blood tests were normal." "Therefore, even though it's possible the man holding the knife could have killed the dead man, we have determined that the man holding the knife is 'not guilty,' based upon our standards."

Matthew Green said...

And what about the aliens?

Anonymous said...

Had this conversation with my father about whether Social Security Disability is welfare. My father worked in the U.S. Government as a scientist for years. He lumps the SSA under the umbrella of all welfare programs.

I define US welfare as citizens basically getting something for nothing e.g. AFDC, food stamps, GR, TANF, pell grants, etc. True, SSI could be considered welfare considering theoretically the disabled person did not pay enough into the Social Security system.

But Social Security Disability (SSD) is not welfare!!!

As the inconsiderate SS lady told this person - "Stop crying because it is money I earned." 100 percent correct.

Now, a case could be made a SSD recipient takes out more than they put in e.g. if they were on SSD in their 20s or 30s.

SSD is simply a forced disability insurance program for those working jobs who pay into Social Security. Take any private insurance for example. Person X files an X claim (e.g. car insurance, homeowners insurance). The insurance company pays it but calls it charity or welfare. No, it is a legal contract. If you have a claim, pay it.

People should never be shamed about filing an insurance claim. Ever.

Anonymous said...

@9:57 SSDI might not but Medicaid sure does while you are waiting for your SSDI claim to process.