I’ve really missed writing! Unfortunately, I was busy dealing with a system that just makes no sense at all. That’s right folks, it’s the U.S. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) system!
I had my social security hearing since I last wrote to you. For those not familiar with the process, it works like this: you apply for social security and almost definitely get denied. You appeal, and likely get denied again. You appeal again, and are assigned a hearing before a judge. This process takes more than a year. If the judge rules for you, you get your payments (in my case, not even enough to cover my rent, never mind food, gas, electricity, or medical expenses) and eligibility for Medicare, which isn’t the greatest health insurance, but it’s better than nothing (which is what you might have otherwise, depending on your situation.) If the judge rules against you, you don’t get payments, you don’t get Medicare, and your only options are to either walk away or start the whole thing over again. Ridiculous, right?
Oh, and I forgot to mention: if you don’t show up for any but the most exceptional reasons, the judge automatically rules against you. So if you get hit by a car and end up in the hospital, they’ll let you reschedule (with proof that you were in the hospital.) If you’re just in too much pain to show up, too bad, you lose. I get that they don’t want a bunch of no-shows, but when you’re dealing with ill people, reliability can be a problem. If it weren’t some of us might be, you know, working at jobs. Sure, you can schedule a hearing by phone instead, but that has to be done in advance, and my lawyer and others say it’s better to show up if possible. So if you don’t schedule a phone hearing months in advance, you better show up in person at the right time on the right day. They just give you a time and day, you don’t get to choose it, of course.
Mornings are tough for me. I never schedule anything that involves leaving the house before 11am when I can help it. It’s just too hard to get there on time, and I often feel lousy later on, too. So of course I had to leave at 8:30. Figures. And don’t forget that “not showing up” includes “not showing up on time.” So if you show up late, the judge automatically rules against you. But hey, no pressure.
So for a week I was nervous. I washed my hands more than usual. I tried to avoid being near anyone who seemed the least bit sick. What if I got sick? It’s been a year and a half since I first applied, so starting the application process over again isn’t a good option. Plus, if I didn’t show up for the hearing, my long term disability company (which requires me to apply for SSDI) could cancel my coverage. Yup, missing this hearing would make me screwed!
That wasn’t an option, so on top of the concern about the hearing itself, I had the added stress of worrying that something could happen to make me miss the hearing. And of course the hearing itself would be about me trying to “prove” that I’m really as sick as my doctors and I say I am. It was a shitty week.
But here I am, on the other side of it. I won’t know for a month or two what the judge’s ruling will be, but at least I made it through the hearing. I was nauseated beforehand, I was in extra pain that morning, and I don’t feel great about how it went, but at least it’s over. And now I wait….