Some people may think that...
with $4 generic prescriptions at WalMart, someone receiving disability benefits from private insurance and Social Security could afford to not decide between rent and medicine. They would be wrong. →
I finally found a doctor who could keep my blood pressure and cholesterol under control using only generic medicines. He even managed to whittle the number down to four. I thought my days of going without were over.
Nope. As always, external factors reared their heads, the worst being what has become the usual incompetence at Social Security. The worst problem is the disconnect between what the 800-number staff know about field procedures and the public's inability to contact the local office through jammed phone lines. The best hope lies in telling a convincing story and moving the person on the other end to call the field and straighten things out.
That problem concerned direct deposit. Underlying all else however, despite my case being adjudicated favorably last November, I still have not received back payment for the four years I waited for the process to conclude. That amounts to $48,000. I am far from alone. At any given time, 100,000 others are also waiting for their lump sum from the dreaded Payment Center, an office so inaccessible that even regular Social Security employees cannot reliably get through.
The obstacle creating this backlog is the sheer bulk of medical evidence needed to decide a case. The process is so complicated that lawyers who specialize in disability cases must collect and assemble medical records from every doctor involved, even indirectly. Then, both a judge and a rehab specialist at Social Security must go through that package to assure that every T was crossed.
Disability in the US is breaking Social Security. No one foresaw the surge in claims that followed 9/11 when so many jobless opted for disability over unemployment, and the inflow of new claims has increased steadily since. Worst of all, the process serves to make claimants even sicker by the time they do finally get access to Medicare, and in my case, a disabling condition that could have been temporary became instead irretrievably permanent.