Saturday, September 09, 2006


The other day I had an appointment with a vocational rehabilitation counselor. It was a great opportunity to get more insight into aspects of the disability safety net. One of the big revelations was, oddly, about my application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

The counselor told me that most of the time the first application barely gets anyone's attention. Nearly every applicant is turned down. I was told that someone would probably look at my application, see I was relatively young and educated, and immediately reject the application. Apparently it's not until the second or third appeal that an application is seriously reviewed with a consideration to the medical condition of the applicant.

A famous example of this occured in the 1980s when Barney Clark, the recipient of the first artificial heart, applied for SSDI. While he was lying in his hospital bed on a life support machine awaiting his history-making operation, his application for benefits was denied because, in the judgment of the Administration, he was capable of returning to work. He was a dentist.

It took a phone call from then-President Reagan to get Social Security to approve Clark's application.

Hopefully it won't come to it but if anyone out there knows a former President...


Anonymous said...

I hope you got this person name.
I really feel this was very inappropriate. Please don't tell me this person was just being honest. I know a young girl 22 who is on SSI and to me her disability is not like yours(rhymatoid artheritis). It doesn't stop her from going out dancing and drinking. Today she went to sixflags. Pleaseeeeeeeeeeee. Don't get me wrong I'm in the medical field and I know about this illness. Fill out the paper and let the system do it job. Don't let anyone discourage you. Keep your chin up.
Rumford teapot.

Anonymous said...

I think the voc rehab counselor was probably right. I know a guy who is in his 50's, developmentally disabled and a double amputee. Every few years he comes up for a review and has to prove to SSI that he's STILL disabled.

Lock Wench said...

Unfortunately, scams have made every agency wary. But I am shocked to hear that one has to apply multiple times even if one has a legitimate condition. I know I would have quit after being denied....thinking that was that.It's a good things you have a good counselor. Keep us informed..


Anonymous said...

My sister used to do reviews related to disabilities determination and she would bend over backwards to get approval quickly for cases that were clearly legitimate. Her first priority tended to be cancer or other cases where time would be of the essence. Real injuries like yours were right up there on the list, too. It is true that a lot of really lame applications came accross her desk and she worked hard with key doctors to deny the ones that were clearly scams. From what I remember, describing your disability accurately was pretty imporant, so you may want to have your doctor help you with the 'magic language' that will tell the story clearly to someone who has to read many, many cases every week. Don't get discouraged -- there are real people at the other end of the paperwork stream. Real people who care about the well-being of other real people.

All the best!


Anonymous said...

so.... make up a stack of those applications and flood the postal service!

Ok... not plausible. But I feel so frustrated over the red tape!!!


Anonymous said...

I can attest to the fact most applications for SSDI are turned down on the first shot. I don't know if it is as cold as was described to you but it is routine. My second application was accepted though so keep on trying.


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