Time for change

Been wondering what to blog about….here it is.

A friend of mine was recently, finally, approved for federal disability, after a long, hard fight. She’s now the President and Co-Founder of the Social Security Disability Coalition and she’s working on reforming the disability application/approval process.

So I have a favor to ask. Please sign this petition: Social Security Disability Coalition Reform Petition.

Here’s why:

Having to apply for social security disability sucks. Having to jump through the hoops and prove that you’re as miserable and sick and poor as they demand is humiliating and degrading enough, without having to wait months, sometimes years to be approved. Linda almost lost her house, spent all her savings, and was almost out on the street before she was just very recently approved.

If you’ve been through the process, you know that they discriminate based on if you “look sick” or not, among other things. Fact is, most people who are disabled due to a debilitating illness don’t look visibly ill. Not everyone loses their hair or is confined to a wheel chair. When I was at one of my sickest points, staying home from school and having to be pushed around shopping malls, I looked so damn healthy. My skin was practically glowing — must have been all the multivitamins I was taking and the good food, trying to keep my body going in any way I could.

My story goes like this. I applied for Social Security disability in Dec. 1997. I was approved within 6 months, on my first try. That in itself is something of a miracle.

I was fortunate to have a good person familiar with the system walk me through the whole process step by step. Not everyone is. And I was willing to prostrate myself in whatever manner I had to to get approved. Because I didn’t have much choice at that point. In many ways, I was lucky. So many people don’t have the resources, the courage or the wits (or my stubbornness) by the time they get to the point of applying for disability. It shouldn’t be such a torturous process.

I’m sure there are people out to defraud the goverment, wanting to get a free ride. But for the pittance you end up getting (I was on SSI — supplemental security income, not SSDI — social security disability income, which pays a bit more than SSI), it’s really not worth it. Have you tried living off $500 a month? I’ve done it. It sucks. And any money you’re able to make (beyond a freebie of $65 a month) comes directly out of your SSI payment. But that’s a different battle.

The real miracle was that I was able to get back on my feet and start working again. According to some stats I read a few years ago, less than 1/2 of 1% of people who are approved for SSI ever manage to get off it.

Anyway. Enough ranting. Go to the web site. Sign the petition. Pass the message on to anyone who might care. Maybe it’ll do some good.