How to fix Social Security Disability

 Today, I discovered a report requested by Congress regarding “reforming” the Social Security Disability Program. I read enough of the report to know that the people who prepared it had never actually needed help to survive despite their disabilities. Rather, the report focused on ways to limit the number of citizens who were eligible.

A more laudable goal might be to support a program for disabled people that actually works.

I have worked with, lived with, and advocated for people living with disabilities for fourteen years. Here is a letter from one of them. I sent it on to the named research associate of the Congressional report.

Daily Kos Version


If I had the support of a functioning Federal Disability Program, I might have been employed three years ago. Instead, I am facing homelessness, starvation, and absolute poverty within the month. Am I a victim of disability fraud?

I am an extremely competent, educated, and experienced member of American society. I am also disabled. Thirty-two years ago, I was a passenger in a Honda Prelude that was hit head on at 60 MPH by a Chevy Van. I suffered major injuries. Both legs were seriously damaged and could never be restored to full functionality despite six surgeries and years of physical therapy.

Now, those legs that I have worked so hard to protect no longer serve me as well as they used to. I cannot even run normal errands any more. The next day, I spend in a recliner or in bed, in order to limit the pain medications I take. I always err on the side of caution regarding any medication dosage.

I cannot walk on grass or gravel. Should I disregard this rule, I will suffer serious leg pain for six weeks.  I purchased a mobility scooter with my own money at the end of January. It has given me enough relief that I now feel able to seek work.

I was deemed disabled as of November 2011. My disability began in 1983 when was struck by 3 tons of steel hurtling toward me on the highway. I claim that my disability began in 2006, rather than 1983, because I was able to work and go to school most of that time.  Since March of 2012, when my claim was first declined, I have been waiting for a ruling from the Social Security Administration on the date my disability began. A favorable ruling means $1,200 a month and eligibility for Medicare. Truly a magnificent income. I look forward to purchasing my first yacht, after I pay all the taxes I owe, of course.

I have been receiving $600 a month from SSI. I have survived because of private charity from friends. This month, I will not be able to bring my rent current and face homelessness, again. I was homeless for six months in 2006. Friends took me in. It was not pleasant living in the home of a hoarder. When I felt well enough, I spent my spare time clearing out twenty years of her detritus and her outright disgusting garbage. This diesease cripples families. Sufferers of a hoarding disorder must be directly assisted in managing clutter on a regular basis.

In 2009, I was declared disabled by the California Department of Rehabilitation. My case manager recommended that I apply for Social Security Disability. I submitted an application online in October 2009. It did not take, apparently, although SSA admitted that I had completed it.

I kept asking friends to help me make sure that I had done everything I needed to but could never receive the assistance I needed. I was too disabled to apply for disability.

In November of 2011, I was finally well enough to pursue my disability application. I was denied twice, and finally had to hire an attorney to represent me. That has not been a pleasant experience, either.

I have a hearing date now, August 1, 2013. I was happy to learn of my hearing date. I asked my attorney, “If my case is successful, when might SSDI payments start?” She replied, “It varies widely. There’s no way to know.”

In mid-April, I put my beloved mobility scooter up for sale, for what I paid for it in January. No one has made an offer. People look at me as though I am crazy when I drive around with a For Sale sign on my scooter.

I became eligible for Medi-Cal, the State of California’s program for indigent residents, in December of 2012. Medi-Cal established my account on April 1, 2013. I called for an appointment with my primary physician. That appointment is on October 17, 2013.

If I had the support of a functioning Federal Disability Program, I might have been employed three years ago. Instead, I am facing homelessness, starvation, and absolute poverty within the month. Am I a victim of disability fraud?

Sincerely, (confidential)

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