In May of 2013 I was placed on permanent disability by my rheumatologist at USC. He informed me that my best bet would be to look into getting a lawyer to help with the paperwork once I received my first denial letter.
At the time I didn’t know why he was telling me I would get denied if he was the one placing me on disability when all I wanted was to work.
I had no idea that a year would pass and I would still be going through the appeal process, which feels like more of a waiting game than anything else.
I followed my doctors advice and retained a great lawyer who specializes in disability cases. Luckily for me he doesn’t get paid until I get approved and Social Security pays me for the months I’ve been waiting.
Not only do I not receive any form of monetary relief, but I was also denied Medi-Cal (Medicaid in California) because of my age. For me, medical coverage is much more valuable than whatever money I’ll be receiving, because my treatment is extremely expensive even with the help of my private insurance.
It’s a very frustrating process, which I believe takes longer than necessary. They have my medical records, hospitalization dates and diagnosis, but for whatever reason it isn’t enough. I’m not sure how they rate each application and I’m fully aware of all the fraud claims they must receive.
I honestly believe that I was denied due to age. They think I’m too young to be as sick as I claim to be.
It makes me feel like I have to prove that I’m not just being lazy or trying to take advantage of the system. As if I don’t go through enough on a daily basis, I now have to plead my case to strangers who don’t know me or the true side effects of my conditions and medications.
It’s easy for someone to read what lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, Sjogren’s disease and vasculitis are. But to live with them each and every day and have it affect your life in such a painful way is different.
The road to getting approved is long and I have no idea when it will end. But I refuse to give up just because I’m being starved financially. So many people go back to work against doctors orders because they can’t afford to wait years for their disability to be approved. It’s unfair and unjust.
I’ve felt like throwing in the towel and quitting, but if I do I’ll only be hurting myself and causing more harm to my body. So I will continue to wait, pray, and hope for that letter in the mail with my trial date because I’m not giving up until I get the benefits I need.
Arlene Grau lives in southern California. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, migraine, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s disease.
The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.