The System Is Broken
Last week, as I pulled into my apartment complex, I got a call on my cell. I didn’t recognize then number but I picked up anyway since no collection agencies are hunting me down at the moment for past due medical bills.
“Hi, this is Fred at Integrated Benefits. I am calling to tell you that your request for a Social Security appeal had been denied. We can take it to Federal Court if you want.”
I was speechless. Take a look at this time line and you may end up speechless, too!
February 2003-acute onset systemic lupus (14 days in hospital)
April 2003-tried to return to work but kept getting sent home
May 2003-pastor at Grace Episcopal Church calls me in to tell me that he thinks I am too weak to continue both jobs. So they are letting me go so I can really concentrate on the bigger job. (WOW, and thanks ever so much!)
September 2003-pastor at Queen of Peace calls me in to say there is no more funding for my job. Here is a severance package, have a nice life.
(I realize that I am still quite sick and unemployable and decide to go for disability and apply through private insurance and Social Security)
October 2003-kidney biopsy confirms lupus nephritis. Go on chemo. Cry a lot.
February 2004-pastor from Queen of Peace drags feet about confirming my salary and employment. I hint (OK it was more than a hint) to sue the Diocese and Bishop. Necessary papers are magically faxed the next day and I get the private disability BUT there is a caveat. I have to sign my SSDI over to the private company and let them represent me. Well when you are on food stamps and have an eviction notice on your door you will sign darned near anything.
September 2004-first Social Security rejection. File immediate appeal.
September 2005-second Social Security rejection. File immediate appeal requesting administrative law judge hearing.
July 2006-hearing. (That will be the subject of another post)
November 2006-rejected. Filed appeal.
January 2007-I decide to find a way to survive without any disability and take a part time job at the Lupus Foundation and a church. Call the private disability folks and ask how to get OFF. No one calls back. (This is yet another future post.) Checks kept coming. I stacked them up on the kitchen counter but did not cash them.
July 2009-Integrated Benefits called to tell me that my appeal that was filed in November 2006 was denied and would I like to request a hearing in FEDERAL COURT? Of course (and I am telling the truth so help me God), I cannot expect to hear for another 18 MONTHS if they will hear the case or not.
That would be January 2011! That will be 10 ½ years! AND I will then have to wait until a decision is rendered after that. Of course, I will not get disability. All this is past stuff. What I could get is the cost of living increases from the years I was on private disability. It might just be enough to buy Christmas presents in 2012 or maybe pay off one of those medical collections!