Friday, August 17, 2012

Paperwork and Illness, USA

My hardest won piece of advice in working alongside Social Security Administration? Laughter and endorphin-raising exercise, when possible!

As soon as I applied for Social Security Disability Income, because of my new-found inability to work associated with my long-term illness, I discovered a new form of work – paperwork performed for the SS Administration. It stupefied me how many forms had to be filled in and how many more records needed to be supplied. What surprised me most, though, was the continuity of the work. Something new every week, a new situation to be solved every month or so. And then waiting to hear the Result. Making phone calls – finding out how much of your day could be eaten up on hold, waiting for (hopefully) the right person. Making trips to SSA offices – as infrequently as possible. That was the Whole Day.

I took up this new form of work in my life at first with wonder, then frustration, impatience, tears, more symptoms of my illness, insomnia, unrelieved stress, and belief there was no one to help. But the paperwork never stopped and the win-lose levels were raised, and I sought relief. That’s when I discovered I could laugh at the worst moments. I could completely let go and find peace inside. I found a new perspective and I began to sleep at night. Stress was relieved. And I got help, too!

If you have Disability Income and have some difficult issues with the SSA to deal with, you can contact a federal legislator – a congressional member’s office. Preferably a well-known, well-connected Senator in your party of preference. And plead for mercy. They have people on staff called Constituent Advocates whose job it is to negotiate with SSA (and other federal agencies) for you. That pleased me no end. I love to pass along that bit of information because it’s so invaluable, and because it helps you laugh when you’re not laughing and should be.

Set this short list to memory and you, too, will be fine –
·      Hope for the best
·      Take names, always always always
·      Relax
·      Exercise as much as possible to build a store of endorphins
·      Eat dessert whenever you can

There are many secrets I have to keep with Social Security. But not these. They are mine, and now yours, too.

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