As I lay in bed this morning, I couldn’t help but think about the past few years and what I have watched my beloved endure. Once a confident, well-spoken, efficient, hard-working, highly regarded man, a Selectman in our Town, Sunday School, AWANA and Youth Group Leader, and Manager of a local Dealership, my husband has been stripped of all his wonderful characteristics in order to receive some Federal assistance for his disabilities. I can’t help but wonder if the treatment that he has received makes God cry. Jesus wept in his human form, and since Jesus was God in the flesh, God must have felt those emotions. Since my husband is a child of the Most High, I believe that if nothing more, God is disgusted.
21 months is a very long time.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal insurance program that protects workers who become totally disabled and cannot work for a year or more. The program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is not a hand out. It is insurance that we have paid for. The problem is that you have to PROVE that you are disabled and this process is painful, humiliating, and demoralizing.
My husband began by hiring a Disability lawyer and spent 2 full days at the Social Security office filling out paperwork that record doctors, ailments, dates of accidents, med lists, you name it, they asked it. The next challenge was to get doctors to submit reports and evaluations. He had to sign releases, we had to make phone calls, and some reports we had to go get ourselves. Then my husband had to have evaluations administered by physicians that Social Security assigned. Apparently they don’t trust the judgement of those who have been treating you over time and have a personal relationship with you. Then you wait. Within about 8 weeks, you receive a denial letter stating that your disability isn’t significant enough to keep you from working. After challenging the decision and asking for another look, you become denied a second time. By this time, it has been about 7 months. During these 7 months, you are not making an income, relying on half income in the household, and your savings is depleted.
Over this time, my husband spent every single day making out job applications and working with the Unemployment Office, even though he did not qualify for assistance. Finally, after 7 months of looking, he was hired at another Dealership and we cried out to God, thanking him for taking us through the Valley. He worked for 5 months before losing his 2nd job. He lost 2 jobs, one year to the day: April 18. The Government said that he could work, he tried, and failed. I watched my favorite man get slammed down again. The lawyer said this is good for his cause, but how can it be good to see him fail AGAIN?
More evaluations, more reports, more appointments. It has been our routine SINCE. Over the summer we appealed to our Congresspeople. It was helpful. We pleaded for help, limping along with no money to make the household payments or eat. We didn’t qualify for even the food pantry because my salary alone disqualifies us. Nobody realizes that our budget was set up for two incomes. With one, we are only able to pay half of the bills. We were advised to let our utilities lapse and that it would put us to the top of the pile for a Hearing date. It didn’t work. In the summer, utilities are optional. We were told to let our house payment lapse and that would surely get us to the top of the list. We refused. What the heck? That is messed up.
We have been operating on half income, relying on help from others and we had to hire 4 different lawyers over the past 2 years. The first was to fight for Unemployment, which we lost twice. Rusty’s employer felt that his errors were done on purpose, and although we have proved otherwise, we have not received financial compensation or an apology. The second lawyer is the Disability lawyer who will represent us when we finally go to Hearing. The third was a team of Eldercare lawyers who we hired to protect our assets and prepare for my husband’s eventual care. Finally, we hired a lawyer to adjust our deed. This was by far, the hardest for both my husband and I. We both crashed.
Today, we still wait. We have been granted a Compassionate Allowance, a Fast Pass, for an earlier Hearing since we cannot afford food. The “Fast Pass” was granted to us in August and our Hearing date is February 2nd. I can only imagine how long we would have waited without it. When I asked Social Security why the wait was so long, they said it was because of a lack of Hearing Judges. I encouraged Congresspeople to make this a priority and they promised to try, but they most likely were trying to pacify me.
I asked the lawyer what happens to people who don’t have help with this process. He told me that by the time they get help, they have lost everything or they die waiting. So, when I think about whether God cries, I think he must. Proof that you are no use in society is not the way to receive federal insurance that is “designed to protect workers who become totally disabled and cannot work for a year or more”. It is not okay.
God, do you see this? Are you so disgusted that you don’t even want to look? Our story is just one of many and I become so disheartened when I think about the MANY children of yours that are suffering. We are pushing to see the daily blessings, and thank you when they are revealed. We encourage others that we come in contact with who have stories that are similar to ours. I just don’t know what else to do. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe I wouldn’t have seen this if I hadn’t experienced it. Maybe I will be a better human being because of my journey and my story. However, you need to know that it hurts and I am sad, and I am tired.