I'm not sure why I'm finding this hard to talk about, but my application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) was approved.
Two months ago.
I'm grateful, for my family's sake. And as my laptop was dying over the past few weeks, it was nice to know we have a little more padding in our budget again so we could replace it without trying too hard to figure out where the money should come from.
But rather than celebrating when I got the letter from the Social Security Administration, it made me sad. The fact that someone I've never met read through my medical files and determined that yes, even without a unifying umbrella diagnosis, my symptoms add up to a disability somehow made official something I've been in denial about: This is real.
(I don't know why it hit harder that it was an SSA lawyer rather than people I've gotten to know through my blog and other Internet communities.)
When I applied for SSDI, I somehow had it in the back of my mind that by applying (which I had to in order to preserve my ability to file for it before I'd been out of the workforce too long), it would somehow guarantee that I'd be better before I worked my way through the backlog of cases waiting for hearings before an administrative law judge. (I knew I'd be denied initially because I don't have one of the clear-cut diagnoses that are automatically approved. And I was, although my claim was ultimately approved about six months before my lawyer estimated I'd be scheduled for a hearing.)
So why do I shy away from telling people that I'm on disability? I really don't know.
I'm not embarrassed or ashamed, because I've been totally honest with my doctors and the Social Security Administration. But it doesn't feel like something to be proud of, either.
Mostly, I guess, it's a relief.
And I'm still hoping this isn't a forever thing. A lot of people think Social Security Disability is only for permanent disability, but the regulations say you can qualify as long as your disability has or is expected to last at least 12 months.
So I'm hoping that either one of my doctors will figure out a treatment that allows me to be functional enough to work again, or that I somehow get better on my own. It happens. Autoimmune diseases can go into remission, sometimes for years.
Meanwhile, I felt I needed to let y'all know since I'd written about it a couple times back when I applied in 2009. (Huh. I was apparently was thinking about it enough to write about it way back in December 2007.)
Thanks for listening. :)
4 months ago