I will start by saying that my heart almost stopped when the call came in. I was hard at work selling insurance policies and was on hold on the work phone when “White & Associates” popped up on my cell as an incoming call. I froze. I actually let it ring about three times before abruptly hanging up the work phone and picking up to Janet. Her first words were, “We won! John was fully approved”… and I didn’t know what to say other than “That’s great, Thank you”. I sounded so unexcited in comparison to her obvious glee that I’m sure I was a complete let down! She ran through the numbers of how much he would be receiving and what our back pay would be and what we had to do to have the children’s benefits added (the kids get a combined additional 50% until they are 18), then I thanked her once more and hung up the phone.
I immediately called John to let him know and his reaction was much the same as mine. It’s an extremely surreal experience; your whole world has changed and yet nothing has changed, at least that’s how it felt on my end. After talking with John at home later in the day, the reason for his reaction was nothing like mine. On the one hand, we desperately needed the result for the income and he was relieved and so grateful for that aspect of the verdict, but an approval to John was also confirmation that he is, in fact, disabled. We all knew this, but it is now truly official and documented and for him, that was a sad and kind of overwhelming moment. Overall, yes, this is a fabulous result and we owe Stephanie Murphy a great deal for adding a congressional flag to our file and getting us in so quickly for the hearing. It’s a sad day when 18 months is quick! I recommend, if you are in dire straights waiting for a hearing, please contact your Member of Congress and ask for help, it’s in large part what they’re there for.
Disability shouldn’t take so long to be decided. It’s an absolute travesty and I don’t understand why more people aren’t asking why. I feel as though there’s a general feeling of “If you don’t really need it, you’ll go find work”, which is just fine if you’re trying to weed out those who really don’t qualify, but when people are genuinely sick and unable to work and they’ve worked their whole lives to pay into Social Security to provide help if this circumstance were to arise, it’s so very hard to survive those years where there is no income. If John were on his own right now, with his cognitive issues and anxiety, it does not bear thinking to me to wonder what would have happened to him these past two years. I genuinely believe that he would be dead. I know that sounds harsh, but without money, you don’t have a roof over your head and John simply would not have survived on the streets. He’s done it before, but he was different then. This is the reality for so many people who start the disability process and end up either dead or on the streets before they get to see a judge and that’s so very wrong. What’s was it Gandhi said? “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members”, and on this I feel this great nation is failing.
Anyway, on that note, now we wait again, for the money to start coming in, to get the final approval letter (that can apparently take a while) and to close this chapter of our lives and move on to the next.