It’s Disabling To Prove Disability!

Just over four years ago, I really believed I was flying high on life. My health was top notch. I was active in many different things including bowling leagues, golf and tennis outings, and game nights with a lot of people I knew in AA. I was living comfortably in the Boston area back then and my only debt was the bed and breakfast that I owned which I was a silent partner in. It was on the market to be sold and my hopes were that my $500K to $600K investment was going to be returned with a large profit.

Sadly, that never happened.

In January of 2010, my bed and breakfast had to be sold as a short sale. The housing market had dried up and people weren’t buying businesses. I lost every dollar that I had placed into the B&B venture and I walked away with just the shirt on my back. Suddenly, that feeling of flying became one of me crashing to the ground.

I think the word ‘shock’ best describes what I was feeling when the paperwork was signed and I truly realized I had lost everything. Unfortunately, the saying that ‘when it rains, it pours’ is true at times for some people. At the time when I lost my B&B, I was actively engaging in an extremely toxic but intimate relationship with a married man and it was destroying my soul. When I lost my bed and breakfast and all that money, I didn’t grieve, talk about it, or work through anything. I just submerged myself deeper into that toxic relationship. I distanced myself from everyone healthy, from AA, and even from myself. My depression began to grow deeper and my anxiety attacks began to get more frequent.

A few months passed with me in limbo where the only progress I had made in life was in teaching meditation. It was my goal to start my own business with teaching meditation at the center of it. By the time the calendar day became April 27th, 2010, I had turned into an extremely unstable individual and was suffering from regular bouts of anxiety and depression. That night I had been hired at a Yoga studio to lead about 30 students in a guided meditation. During it, pain was shooting down my leg and my low back was hurting quite severely. I got through the instruction and went home to bed earlier than I normally would hoping to awake in the morning free of pain. Instead, the opposite happened. I awoke to even more pain. As each day passed after April 27th, the pain grew more and more severe, until seven days later, a good portion of my left leg and left foot went numb. Over the course of the next few months, my Fibromyalgia returned, I developed Prostatitis, and my depression and anxiety became life disabling.

From the year 2000 until 2010, I had gone on a quest to remain free from doctors, medications, and medical testing. Prior to that, I had become hyper sensitive and was having severe side effects to many prescriptions that I had taken. I had also become addicted to seeing doctors because of my hypochondria and found myself going to their offices sometimes five days a week just to get reassurance in my life that I was going to be ok. So when all of this began after April 27th, 2010, I vowed I would heal from it naturally and not complicate it as I had done so many times before in my life. I spent the rest of 2010 isolating and tried on most days to just conjure up enough energy to make it through each day. I was barely functioning half the time and was grateful that I didn’t have a job as I knew there was no way I was going to be able to work given my state of mind and body. Thankfully I had a sister who was helping me financially get by and I had given myself a year to work through what I was going through without medical help. Unfortunately, it didn’t get better and instead grew worse.

2010 became 2011 and I spent the next year in and out of doctor’s offices, in and out of medical treatments, in and out of physical therapies, and in and out of having suicidal ideations. I finally broke down and decided that I needed to apply for Social Security Disability with my onset date of April 27, 2010. It didn’t appear that I’d be able to go back to work anytime soon and I knew my sister couldn’t keep going on and supporting me indefinitely. It took a lot for me to apply for disability as I have been told many times in my life that there’s always someone much worse than me. But I didn’t feel like I could get much worse as by the end of 2011, I had attempted suicide.

When I had received my first disapproval from Social Security around that time, I was given reassurance that most people get turned down from their first attempt. It wasn’t very reassuring though. The letter I received from them indicated that I didn’t have enough proof that I was disabled on or before December 31st, 2010. I appealed, but this time, I attached letters from my therapist and several practitioners indicating how severe my state of mind and body was and that I was incapable of working while I was trying to focus on my healing. A few months passed, and towards the end of winter 2012, I received my second letter from Social Security and had been turned down once again. I sought legal advice from a lawyer and was told that my best bet was to appeal again but this time I would be going to court. That was over a year ago.

I just received my court date a week ago in the mail. My hearing is going to be on May 7th, 2013. Currently, my lawyer is working pro bono and will only get paid if I win. I’m told that my case is weak because I don’t have enough evidence that I was disabled in 2010. In a nutshell, my decision to try to heal for the first year holistically and not see any MD has proven to be a major snafu in this whole process. What I never knew before was that Social Security is like having any type of insurance. When one pays into some type of insurance, there is a window of time that is covered. The last time I paid into my Social Security was December of 2004 when I was still employed in the corporate world. It’s window of coverage was until December 31st, 2010. Thus, I have to show proof of being disabled on or before that date. All of the doctors, hospital visits, medical testings, and rehabilitations I have gone to beginning in 2011 don’t seem to matter when it comes to this process of trying to show proof I’m disabled.

So I’m doing the best I can to bring as much evidence to the trial of my history of chronic pain, anxiety and depression. I’ve had to go back and contact therapists and psychologists from over a decade ago to ask for letters showing my mental health history. It’s possible my sister may even have to testify as she is one of the few people who really saw how disabled I was during 2010. I never thought that all that money I paid into Social Security for so many years would be so hard to get back when I really need it. Ironically, the path I’ve been on these past few years to get disability has been quite disabling. At times the stress has really overwhelmed me and caused my symptoms to get worse.

I’ve had to place this whole process into God’s hands. I continue to pray about it and turn it over to Him, sometimes even more than once a day. On days when my pain is so great like I wrote about yesterday, and even like I feel right now, I question if all of this work to get disability is in vain. Whatever the decision though, I’ll take it as God’s will and trust that I’ll be ok either way as I know I’m in His healing hands.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson