Sunday, March 22, 2009

Next Stop on the Liver Transplant Rollercoaster: Social Security Disability

I haven't worked for two-and-a-half years. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined it would be so, considering that I moved away from home at 17 and earned enough to support myself for nearly 30 years (and support my two children, without financial assistance from anyone else, for six of those years).

I quit working about 10 weeks before my liver transplant and haven't been consistently healthy and/or energetic enough to resume full-time work. Or even part-time work, for that matter. Debilitating fatigue is the main culprit, compounded by my weakened memory and "brain fog," as the experts call it.

Our household was structured on two incomes and trying to live on one isn't working. To help cover our monthly expenses, we got a home equity line of credit - that money is gone. We also swallowed our pride and borrowed money from a family member and used it to pay expenses, too. Now, having tapped every available financial resource and pinching our pennies as hard as possible, we still need more income, so I have filed for Social Security Disability payments.

My doctor broached this topic with me about six months after the transplant but I waved it off, insisting that I would certainly be able to work again soon. The thought of being labeled "disabled" was, and still is, embarassing to me; "disabled" applies to people who can't care for themselves... and independent, proud me can certainly take care of myself. Yet no matter how much I might choke on the bite, I'm eating humble pie now and admitting that for now (and who knows how long) I can't financially provide for myself and my family.

Adding this part of the transplant experience to my blog was something I debated. Ultimately, I decided that my blog is only as helpful to others as I allow it to be. Hence, I'll describe the process and what I learn as I navigate the Social Security Administration. Lord, please grant me patience.

Photo by Sufi Nawaz

1 comment:

SOMETHING HAPPENED SOMEWHERE TURNING said...

I don't think anyone is really comfortable talking about family expenditures. It's kind of like showing your paycheck to someone. Nobody wants to do that. But as we already know -- the cost for a transplant, the care involved and the medicines we take -- it is an enormous hit on the wallet. Not to mention the time off we will take from our jobs. If we are lucky, hopefully we will be back to work as soon as it is realistically possible.
We are currently in the process of refinancing and are patiently waiting to hear from them. The one thing that is hard on everyone right now is the economic climate. Not good timing at all. I am also covered by my wifes insurance because her company had the best overall plan compared to my works coverage. Surprise! Two weeks ago the plan changed and it kind of screwed things up for us in the short run, in the long run we will be alright but we will be jumping through hoops for a while.
I wish you the best Jay. I don't think eating humble pie is a bad thing. I have a friend who is going through kidney failure and her SS was approved the other day and she is so thankful that there is at least some help in her future. I am so happy for her.
I actually got my paperwork from my work for SSD so that I can start it rolling as soon as it is necessary. In the mean time I hope I can stay as healthy as I can until it's my time.