Never Give Up When Fighting For Disability Benefits!
I was first diagnosed at the age of 48 with RRMS. In just 2 yrs, I had failed on two of the most reputable first line drugs and ended up on chemotherapy in order to essentially shut down my immune system for 6 months.
I was relapsing at least every three months for those first three years. I lost the vision in my right eye in 2011 as a result of optic neuritis. I even was hospitalized at the Ohio State University for 2 weeks to try plasmaphoresis to get my vision back. Some returned, but it is mostly shapes. I no longer drive.
In February 2012, I started noticing I wasn't on my game at work. I was the manager of a very busy Emergency Department. I was missing deadlines, forgetting to follow up on things, missing meetings and having much difficulty doing things tat were once very easy. I knew something was going very wrong. I went off work on Short term disability which later turned into Long Term disability.
Knowing that I was facing chemotherapy and knowing I was no longer on my game at work, I made the hardest decision of my life. I knew it would not be possible for me to return. I applied for Social Security at the beginning of March, 2012.
When I applied, the gentlemen taking my application quite frankly told me it was going to be hard for me to get my claim approved. When I asked him why, his response was "you are just too educated". I have a BSN and an MBA. I left the office thinking of all the patients I had cared for over the last 30 years who were able to get disability for things like back pain, alcoholism and even attention deficit! I was bound and determined that I would win this battle!
Long story short, I was denied 4 times!! I had a 12 page report from a rehab psychologist who did cognitive testing for 8 hours one day. The report was in fact downright depressing showing that my MS had brought about some early dementia, poor short term memory, problems with word finding, difficulty with critical thinking and problem solving. All of those things I needed to do my job. He in fact advised me to appoint a power of attorney and make sure I had a will prepared sooner rather than later. That was just one of my issues they reviewed!
Finally, they scheduled an administrative hearing for me to appear in front of a judge. Interesting though, I recieved a call just one week before I was to appear with news that the hearing had been cancelled and my case approved. Mind you I am very grateful this two year process is finally over for me. I am blessed that my employer has an excellent long term disability program~I am sure there are many people who could not have survived as well as I did.
My point in telling my story is only to encourage those who go through the process to never give up! I truly feel like sometimes this arm of the government tries to see how far tey have to push before you just give up.
You are the only one who knows your body and knows what you can and cannot do. Work with your neuro to get input about your situation and what is best for you. Just another illustration of the frustration of having this incredibly "invisible" disease~while many do have outward signs, many of us have more that can not be seen. For me it is fatigue, cognitive changes, chronic pain which I just have to live with and spasms all over my body that come and go.
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?