Monday, April 23, 2007

My updated say on receiving SSDI and working

I know that a lot of people have been led to my blog by Disability Blogger and others who use one of my posts to confirm what they say about being on disability and working: Don’t mix the two.

I wrote that post under extreme duress. For those of you who may be holding within your sweaty palms a similar kind of letter from our country’s illustrious SS, I’m sure you know what I mean. The abject fear, anger, and may I reiterate the fear of the unknown and more than likely feeling that it is unfair and you just don’t know what to do is a palpable and memorable feeling to me. Every time I see a letter from them my stomach drops. Hence, if you’re like me, you start googling, looking up places like Disability Blogger and somehow, find a blog run by an angry ranting bipolar. Hey, I’m insightful as well.

I would like to explain. The following is the stuff off the top of my head that I recall having to be painfully aware of during a horrible time in my life when the Social Security Administration said they wanted $20,000 from me (if you care to know the outcome drop me a response and I will spill). Disability Blogger and all the rest should let you know about this information and give you the chance to research it to your hearts content, as well you should.

When you are initially disabled, as in you have not worked since getting the disability designation where you will now receive SSDI (congratulations by the way. Many hire lawyers just to get this far.) – SSI receivers I can’t comment on your personal hell as its not the one I’ve experienced, I’m sorry. Regarding work at this juncture, you are allowed a NINE MONTH trial period by the Social Security Administration where, to be honest, I am not sure how much you are allowed to make. I want to say you can go wild with the amount (hence the specially designated time period) but I am not sure. Research this deeply because it makes all the difference.

Now, you can’t just earn ‘crazy’ amounts of money after this time period– this is where you can go deadly wrong. Let me make clear that if you get a ‘nice’ dead eye (gov’t worker) you might beg to intersperse that nine months inconsecutively (put one month here and there as you please on paper while they are grilling you in Federal office hell) – but do not count on it! I’m telling you with utter and complete honesty that you will always do better being utterly conservative in terms of thinking to yourself, “Hmm…I can earn X amount of dollars for X amount of hours per week and STAY SAFE.” If you do not wear condoms during sex (um ever heard of AIDS? Ew!) still please THINK about what you can reasonably earn without getting in trouble. Darling, you could live your whole life and not meet a dead eye, never piss off the Federal Government. Take it from one who has (Thank you Lord, I praise you every day that I have) SURVIVED the experience – don’t tempt yourself into meeting the devil. Amen.

You can at this juncture (April 23, 2007) earn up to about $860 a month, this above and beyond what you are receiving from the SS. Do not, whatever you do, make more than the ‘allowable amount’ designated by the Social Security Administration each month you are working. Countless have fallen. You will find yourself stammering in front of a dead eyed government worker trying to explain how you dared to go over this amount. You may owe that amount, but worse, you may owe your entire check or even be forfeiting your disability status because you damn well know, (even claiming) NOT KNOWING does NOT get you off the hook. I know I am making a dead eye’s wet dream this very minute by explaining in a common vernacular. I apologize for that, but this is info you need to know.

May this be a warning to those in contemplation (of working). Sad is the life of not working when you feel that you really would like to, and that you could (and monetarily speaking, need) to earn a little somethin’ somethin’. I’m a fine example. I worked for nearly 2 years (with no trouble from SS, mind you, on this job as I purposely begged to be underpaid. I don’t know which is worse mentally, being underpaid and thereby avoiding a passel full of trouble, or sitting in front of dead eye at the local SS office.). As is my modus operandum concerning most of the jobs in my life I left because I socially/stressfully couldn’t take it (and MountTheHassle Funeral Home is the most retched establishment on the East Coast and made my life a bloody hell. There I said it. Sue me, bitches.)

I digress. The point is, I have been used to prop Disability’s Blogger’s premise that you simply shouldn’t work. In a perfect world, and you WELL know it is not, that makes sense. I mean, you’re disabled, why should you work? Poor is poor, darling. That’s for one thing. And I think a lot of SSDIer’s could use an extra $830 (technically $860 but for the love of God ALWAYS lowball your income TO BE SAFE.) a month. Moreover, I can say also from personal experience, that I am just now realizing that the thing I really feel that I am missing in life is something meaningful to do. The thought of getting to do ANYthing that would give me sense of fulfillment immediately lifts my depression, if only for a moment. So you see, you CAN be both simultaneously disabled and able to do something of worth, and I think it’s a terrible shame to encourage people to sit at home (if that's not the only thing they want or can do) and do nothing so as not to piss off the government. I mean REALLY, what has this world come to?

Don’t answer that. But research the info, definitely look into your options. And there really are options. I’m willing to answer questions, looking up what I don’t know of course, because I see SO MANY people coming here looking for answers and I feel for you. Whatever you do, don’t lose hope because if I could get off, HONestly anyone can. Heck, I couldn’t even get a lawyer to TAKE my case, so I can’t say enough that miracles do happen. The upshot is I really would like to help if I can.


Raine said...

read this last night before I went to bed and then had a nightmare that I went back to work and then couldnt do it........

Anonymous said...

Social Security says I owe them over 27,000. It started in 1995 on or about I was a manager making an ok salary. After 2 Back operations in a year I went from bullet proof to bankrupt.It took 5years to get SSI started.I finally decided that I would starve if I didnt try to work.The more I did the more I felt I could do.Eventually I received a good Job Working for the government of all places(go figure)in 2003.I notified SSI when and where and how much I would be making.After 1year of still receiving benefits I called and asked why am I still receiving checks? The answer was we,ll take care of it.For an additional 2 or 3 years they kept paying all along I,m working paying taxes etc. And calling them constantly asking why haven,t they stopped.Now its like what did you do with that money? Did you forget the earlier statement about bankrupt no credit child support,trying to survive.You would think that bettering your life and being honest about everthing would make a difference but it doesnt.Now they have a microscope up my rear and are asking me to cough.I cannot help it if their incompedence created this mess I didn't.I did nothing but work and pay taxes a lot of taxes I might add. Have a nice day . Screwed

'Tart said...

I laughed when I read Anon's response because the incompetence is mind boggling. It is so sad to call them and ask for information and think that you are on the right path and everything is solved only to find out years later that the main building does not usually speak with your local SS. Moreover, they hire idiots to answer the SS phone - my honest advice: don't ever stake your life and belief on what those people say on the phone. Even when you talk to a gov't worker directly, not on the phone, the fact is its a beauracracy and the rules are so confusing even they don't know their back end from their front. I think they may even use confusion as a subterfuge because they really don't know what the hell they are doing.

Two big things I see that are different here that aren't the same as my situation - this was disability given for a physical condition and according to what's written here, SSI.

But I do understand the part about working while receiving disability, which you'd think your boss and the gov't would take as fortitude and an upright moral disposition, paying taxes that you don't get back, nor is your disability income ever upped (mine wasn't) and oh yes, I recall the microscope and where you would REALLY like to put it.

I've worked LOW paying jobs my whole life, before, during and after college. I have a degree. I know what it feels like to hurt because you can't get ahead and for so many other reasons.

I don't think I would feel embarrassed to tell a co worker or anyone that I had disability because of a back operation. Probably 2/3 of my stress with people was keeping mine a secret and trying to act normal all the time. It changes everything to say you're bipolar and receiving $. I didn't and don't want to deal with the stigma. I'm lucky I can mostly pull it off, but things got sticky when I had to be in a mental hospital for 5 days and I didn't want to tell the bosses why I couldn't come in. I think its important to speak for people who are honest but struggle not just with the gov't and the bureaucracy but the stigma of the illness in the first place.

wolfbaby said...

Im sorry I probably wasn't supposed to but I laughed myself silly over your post. Not the frustration not the jack ka bobs in the govt ..but the way you wrote it ya know? it's good advice!! and a frustrating situation all around.

'Tart said...

Thank you! You know, I agree - I am driven to laughing hilariously because it's just all so ridiculous.

Worse, I wrote this with the knowledge that so many inquire about it. It's a common problem. It's sad. And the agency won't be able to fix themselves, because of the way its set up in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Its me again,They sent me a letter. The cover page said to fillout the the form included but there was no form just a return envelope. I rest my case.