Good news...I guess

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by GoingNorth, Jun 5, 2009.

  1. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I guess I should be thrilled.

    I just got my judges' decision notice from SSDI. It was in my favor.

    I filed at the urging of my psychiatrist and therapist better than three years ago. I got a lawyer after I got turned down for the second time.

    I just needed a lot of help getting all the documentation together, especially as much of it was from overseas.

    They did the judge's hearing via video hookup to CA. They had the judge, a vocational expert and a psychiatrist. It was me and my attorney.

    I'm bipolar and on the AS spectrum. I worked for thirty years in the IT field, most of it in network operations.

    Between the mental health issues and the medications, I simply cannot work in my field anymore. I don't know how to do anything else. I was in my teens the first time I set foot in a computer room.

    I haven't been able to work for better than three years, and I sure as heck tried.

    I have an awful lot of money coming in as back pay and I will be drawing a decent SSDI pension. I already draw a pension from the VA related to my husband's illness and death.

    Between the two of them; I will be able to live comfortably. Nothing fancy, but I won't be sweating the bills and expenses each month.

    I should be thrilled to death but instead I am finding myself grieving what I used to be able to do. I read through the MH and vocational findings attached to the judge's decision and I feel sort of like a waste of skin.

    I'm going to be 49 in a month and this is IT?

    I feel in some ways like this is sort of "entitlement" thinking but I don't really think that is the case.

    If there were some pills I could take each night that would give me back what I had fifteen years ago from an intellectual and mental health standpoint; I would be back in a network ops center in a heartbeat.

    I HATE not being able to work!

    I don't know what to do. There is a community college up here and I get GI Bill benefits. I am thinking about taking a "fun" class.

    I can't really do anything where other's safety is involved so that rules out anything medical which would be my first choice.

    My short term memory is so bad from the BiPolar (BP) and the damned medications that I couldn't safely work as a phlebotomist or medication tech.

    I can't do CNA due to a really bad back, which is part of my disability. I fractured vertebrae in a horse riding accident years back and I have gotten bad arthritis in it as time has gone on.

    One thing that did play a role in my getting approved for SSDI is that I had a repeat neuropsychologist exam done. It was only 8 hours over two days and I had to drive all the way to Madison, WI (UWM) to get it done, but it really showed the various deficits I am now dealing with, especially when compared to an exam done many years ago.

    So...I guess I am entitled...why in heck do I feel like such a waste of skin and air?

    I think I will look into some volunteer stuff once I know for certain that this won't be appealed. It's highly unlikely but it could happen. My lawyer says one every several years. The local SS office says they've seen a couple for every few thousand claims approved.

    I guess I'll check into seeing if I can volunteer at the food pantry or similar.
  2. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Congratulations on having this thing all tied up and behind you. That in and of itself is a relief and good news. Now that you don't have to really think about that anymore, I can see how you may feel a little lost.

    I would never discourage anyone from volunteer work. Volunteering is often a way of discovering hidden talents within ourselves.

    On my thread in PE, Suz posted a few links for tests you (in this case my difficult child) can take to get some ideas on which industry or vocation would be good for you. Rather than looking at this as an 'end', perhaps you can find a way of looking at it as a 'new beginning'?

    Perhaps you could make an appointment with an admissions advisor at the local community college and work together to explore your potential. There may be other areas within the IT world that you could work without it interferring with your disability.

    Best of luck and congrats on this new beginning!
  3. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Well, I guess I am going to look into volunteering. I've already tried to work with VA vocational rehab with no success.

    The SSDI does allow me to work so long as my earnings remain below a cut-off point. I guess I shouldn't feel bad about collecting the SSDI as I did pay into the system for 30 years, but it still feels uncomfortable.

    The testing I did with the VA was part of the reason I qualified for SSDI. There basically isn't anything legit I can do with my specific combination of disabilities.

    The VA pension I recieve has nothing to do with MY ability to work. It is because my late husband died of a service connected disability. It and the SSDI are two completely different things.

    I guess I should look at it as a new beginning as opposed to an ending, but it is kind of hard to get my mind around that right now.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Kat...I know how you feel. I remember when I got my hearing decision too. It was like I should feel happy but I felt this sense of immense loss. It was a loss of who I had always been and who I would never be again. It felt like that paper ended a chapter in my life and put me in a corner with "those people". You know..."those people" that other people look down on for taking from the system. I cringe everytime I hear Judge Judy condemn someone for being on disability. How does she know what it is like?

    It does get better with time. I am so glad now that I got approved. I would be so much worse without it.
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Kat, been there done that. It really doesn't change anything that you have the SSDI, other than like you say, it isn't as difficult to pay the bills.

    I've worked VERY part time for the past 2.5 years. It took me about a year to figure out that I should be self-employed. That way I write a portion of the car and housing off as a business expense. I did a lot of volunteer work at first, but that wasn't terribly fulfilling in the long run, because the function or whatever would end, and I was no longer needed. My biggest problem is fatigue, so I really have to limit the amount of time I spend doing most anything. Even simple things that most people would not think of, like filing or stuffing envelopes. So, Voc Rehab didn't have anything for me, either.

    Try some classes at the community college. I started with things I thought could be a hobby, but eventually got around to accounting, and now I work about 30 - 50 hours a month on my own terms. I know you feel like you're letting a part of you go, but you're also starting something new today. You'll find something to make yourself feel like you are contributing again. You've got too much going for you to sit still forever.

    Big hugs.
  6. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady


    I think you may have nailed it.

    With the VA pension I am the widow of one of America's proud fallen. I have never had anyone claim I am not entitled to that.

    But the SSDI makes me a "them" you said: one of those people other people talk about in hushed whispers...just another one sucking "government teat".

    Witz, it occurs to me that if I can get the medication tremors under control that I might look into TEACHING knitting.

    I need to head a few dozen miles north of here to the nearest yarn store first and see if I CAN still knit.
  7. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Hugs. I can see how this would be a very conflicted time for you. I bet there is lots of volunteer work you could do. I had an elderly (in her late 80's) with advanced rheumatoid arthritis that volunteered in the hospital library---from her wheel chair.
  8. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    kat, you have no reason to feel one bit guilty or bad about receiving SSDI. For all those years that you and your husband worked, you were paying into the same funds that will be paying you now! In another 2-1/2 years I will be retiring and going on social security and it's sort of the same ... and I won't feel even a little guilt over it! I EARNED every dime of it and so did you!

    With your background, have you ever thought about teaching? My son-in-law knows just about everything there is to know about computers. For the last few years, in addition to his regular job, he has been teaching basic computer classes (which he could probably do in his sleep!) and things like Photoshop, Word and Excel at their local community college. Many of his students are older people who have never used computers. He makes good money for teaching a few nights a week, and can pretty much set his own hours. They recently had a baby and he scheduled one course to end a few weeks before the baby came and the next one to start about a month after - it's up to him. And if he gets tired of teaching computer classes some day, he'll teach photography. It's worth checking out!
  9. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Well, after three years and then some, I am too outdated to really teach computers. I could see volunteering to show the elderly and/or disabled how to USE computers as opposed to building and configuring them.

    I took photography courses many years back as well. I should look into that, too.

    I don't even know how to use a digital camera. The only one I have is in my phone and that is four years old, LoL..
  10. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I think once you get your finances sorted and don't have to worry every day about making ends meet, you'll be able to devote more energy to finding an activity that is truly satisfying and meaningful to you. There is SO much out there that you CAN do, you just need some time to explore your options. Life is FAR from over, just because you are collecting SSDI now.
  11. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    I understand completely. It makes you feel different but it's a support.
    You can do productive things that aren't related to paychecks.
    Mentoring, pet rescue, tutoring etc. You are bright and educated and can help others with your gifts.
  12. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    kat, some of the computer classes my sister in law teaches are just very basic instructions on how to operate a easy child for beginners. There's a lot of people, especially some older folks, who have never used a computer before. He (very patiently) teaches them how to navigate their way around, how to send email, save their pictures, etc. You don't have to be up on the electronic end of it or have all the latest updates to do what he does in these classes. And it pays pretty well too!

    Fran is right. Anyone with your intelligence, education and experience can do all kinds of things!
  13. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    You're not a waste of skin and air. This simply frees you from worry to go and do some of the things you'd like to do. Entitlement? No. You paid into the system for years. This is what it is there for.

    I know it hoovers major to not be able to do much of what you could do before. I have some of the same issues. And it's downright frustrating....somedays maddening. And there are days I don't even want to bother to crawl out of bed.

    I think you're idea to take some fun classes at the community college is a good one. You could look at their schedule and see if there is anything in there that interests you. Or look into other things that you've always wanted to do but didn't have the time or had to worry about the money.

  14. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Yeah, it's funny. I've taken an awful lot of classes over the years, ranging from government IT stuff to IBM and Microsoft stuff.

    I have old certifications out the yinyang. I have NEVER once taken a class just for fun! Not even the knitting.

    My late grandmother taught me to knit so long ago that I literally don't remember learning! Only time I've ever taught anyone how to knit is years ago when my husband shattered his foot and ankle (in the Army) and was laid up for months.

    I finally taught him to knit so he had something to do with his hands (this was before video games and stuff) and so I didn't strangle him in his sleep.

    He got to be very good at it and took a great deal of pleasure out of it.

    Handicrafts are coming back so maybe I could teach something along that way.

    I guess what really stunned me were the GAF scores. It was like, "Wow...I really am that bad off!"
  15. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Kat- My father felt much the same way you do when he started receiving disability. But...

    *I was able to cut the part-time hours I was working as a high-schooler.
    *We didn't eat mac-n-cheese up to 3x a week for dinner.
    *We started eating fresh fruits & vegetables again.
    *We were able to keep the heat above 60F in winter.
    *We didn't need to choose between paying the car insurance or risking the electric being turned off.
    *I could answer the telephone without it being a bill collector
    *We were able to salvage the last few months of my childhood.

    I know this hurts right now... I watched my father cry for the first time while going through this... but I for one am happy you are approved. You won't get rich off of disabilty but you may finally has a little security.

    One caution, though, is that you really should talk to a tax specialist about your back payment. Taxes may not have been withheld and you could face a hefty bill next April so you want to know how much to put aside now.
  16. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    TM. Yeah. I knew about the tax issue and yes, I do have to pay taxes on the back pay as well as the monthly payments being taxable income..

    I do intend upon speaking with an accountant to make sure the back pay taxes are covered. I can have income taxes taken out of the monthly payment and plan on doing that as well as paying for my portion of Medicare and the like.

    It is funny that one of the things I am looking forward to is being able to buy proper food. I haven't been able to afford fresh, whole foods for years and my health has suffered as a result.