Sweating the Small Stuff (and the Big Stuff Too)

Well, the time I’ve been dreading for months is here: my Social Security Disability claim is undergoing review to assess whether or not I’m still disabled according to their standards.

To say that I am anxious about this is a major understatement. I’m better than I was both physically and mentally when I first applied and was awarded benefits; of course that’s due in no small part to living a relatively low-stress lifestyle. Not having to throw myself against a wall every day allows me to remain stable. What would happen if Social Security says I’m fit to go back to work? It was an impossible task four years ago, and I was younger then…I’m almost 60 and there isn’t a big market for people in my age group, to say the least. I couldn’t go back to nursing practice even if I wanted to since I’ve been out so long. And I’m way overqualified for most non-nursing jobs, many of which I can’t do because of my physical limitations. What’s a gal to do?

Hospitalization helped me get SSDI last time. It’s never happened again, so how impaired will they think I am? Then again, I’ve been re-diagnosed with bipolar 1 three more times by three different providers, and I’m sure that diagnosis helped my cause along when I applied. I still take a slew of meds and see Dr. Goodenough on a regular, if infrequent, basis. If I were to go off my meds I would almost certainly lose my shit and be completely useless as a human being; maybe they’ll take that into consideration.

I’ve asked some of my fellow SSDI recipients how these reviews go, and they’ve told me I should be fine. I may have to see their doctors and/or get validation from Dr. G that I’m still disabled; I had to go to their medical doctor last time in order to evaluate my physical capabilities, which have NOT gotten better even with the weight loss. I still can’t stand and walk for very long, and my knees are even worse than they were three years ago. I can’t kneel or squat either, and my balance has become precarious (hence, six falls in the past year and a half). Then there’s the memory loss issue. How can I keep a job if I can’t remember the basic stuff? I can just imagine contending with multi-line phones in an office—I’d be so confused I wouldn’t know whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt.

I’m even having trouble learning the volunteer position with the Crisis Text Line. I had to drop out part way through the training because I just wasn’t getting it and I was embarrassed and ashamed; though I signed up for a new session beginning in early April, I have the feeling I won’t go through with it. It’s a lot harder than you’d think, and I floundered even though I had plenty of support from my coach. It reminded me of how I lost my last job, and how dysfunctional I still am despite being on an even keel and reasonably happy.

Now, I know I shouldn’t stress over this because I can’t do anything until they get back to me. I wrote a letter outlining my main difficulties and sent it with the form I filled out; I hope it will be enough. I also know that there are allowances made for age, which I qualify for because I’m over 55. But I can all too easily imagine the horror if my SSDI were to be taken away…whatever would I do with NO income and NO health insurance? Those are the only things holding me together, at least financially and medically. I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent or bills, which would be awful since I’ve worked hard the past two years to get my credit score out of the toilet, and I like where I live.

OK, I’m catastrophizing now. Like my friends said, I’ll probably be fine…the worst thing that can happen at this point is having to produce documentation of my ongoing disabilities from either my doctor or theirs. And if the review does go my way, there’s every chance that it’ll be FIVE years till my next one, at which time SSDI will have rolled over into regular SS since I’ll be past age 62.

Hopefully I’ll soon get a letter saying it’s all good, I’m still eligible for SSDI. I never thought I’d say this, but in my situation it’s a blessing. I may be as poor as Job’s turkey, but at least it’s left me with some dignity. It’s hard not being able to work in this society; people look down on you and accuse you of taking food out of their kids’ mouths because you’re too lazy to get a job. SSDI isn’t welfare, it’s money I earned through many years of hard work. I don’t feel a bit guilty about that. I just need to stay on it. So wish me luck, y’all. I need all the good thoughts I can get.


Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

5 thoughts on “Sweating the Small Stuff (and the Big Stuff Too)

  1. I wish you the best. I’m on SSDI, too, and have been through at least two reviews and interviews. It helps that you are clear about how and why you are not able to do the work you once did. My last interview I was speaking rapidly, fidgeting, and had scribbled answers in the margins of the form they had given me to fill out while I waited. The psychiatrist asked me how I’d describe myself, and I said, “Agitated.” She smiled and nodded her head. Use the anxiety for your interview. Until then, relax.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did. Now it’s been five years and I’m sure my cases will come up soon. If it does and for some inexplicable reason they tell me I have to go back to work, I’ll just convert to regular Social Security as I’m 64 and in too bad a shape physically as well as mentally.


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