Breaking up is haaaard toooo do …

bigstock-A-chalk-outline-of-a-body-symb-22775177…  down doobie doo down down, caba caba, down doobie doo down down … breaking up is haaaard toooo do ….

I once had a romantic relationship that ended so elegantly  … we looked at each other for a long moment in a conversation where we were not connecting … and simultaneously knew … it was over.   No fight.   No sarcasm.  No venom.   No words at all … until, “do you want to … get your things?”

I relish that memory.   My favorite from a relationship that wasn’t all bad.

What in the world does that have to do with advocating for disabled Social Security claimants?   So … I’ve gotten dumped a fair number of times – by clients.  I consider myself particularly competent to pass critical judgment on the art form of the attorney-client break up.  I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a pretty good dumpee.

Common knowledge has it that people trying to get Social Security disability benefits think of those programs as a golden ticket they’d hang onto through a hurricane.   But when you sit across the table from disabled people and properly listen, wade through the bravado and posturing, you learn that the common knowledge … is … well, it’s common, I’ll give it that half.   The fact is, Social Security disability benefits are more of a hot potato a claimant’d toss off in a nano second if they didn’t absolutely have to hold onto it for their sheer basic sustenance.

In an earlier post, Yippee!  The gu’ment’s givin’ away free cheese!, I wrote “If I had a nickel for every time a client sobbed, ‘I’d give anything just to be able to work!’  … I’d have a boat somewhere sinking from the weight of all those nickels.”  Not being able to work leaves a human reeling.

Us working stiffs have a half-time job complaining about our full-time job.  We complain about our co-workers and our bosses and our darned parking spot.  We look forward to time off, and vacations, and probably even fantasize about retirement.  With all that complaining, it is easy to assume that not working is the deal.  The grass is glowinky green on that side of the fence.  It is easy to fail to appreciate how much it means actually to be able to work, to hold your head high, and even to complain about it.  But, wait until that last day of your working life … when you’re too sick to work, or too tired, or just too old.  You might find that the glowinky was toxic.

My friend Lisa told me that when her 27-year-old mare, Sadye was literally put out to pasture because of arthritis and sciatica, the mare was cool with it for a few weeks, but then demanded, by pawing at the ground and whinnying incessantly at the gate, to be let out to do her job of giving riding lessons to Lisa’s students.  Lisa got the message, and let Sadye work a reduced load just to keep her from going nuts in the pasture.  bigstock-Horse-portrait-outside-in-fiel-46805071

In reality, there is little else that takes a toll on a person than not being able to work.  And I encourage my clients to try to work if at all possible.  In fact, I don’t personally know any attorneys who don’t encourage their clients to work.  I know – crazy.  It’s like we court being dumped.

I am told by clients that the effects of chronic boredom and of a lack of daily structure causes depression to affix itself like a relentless, soul-sucking leech.  The loss of the ability to provide for yourself, and to contribute to your family, is almost unbearable.

Once we get past the bluster, my clients describe themselves as valueless, as ashamed, of being always in a one-down position to virtually everyone.  It’s beyond difficult … and causes most claimants to want to isolate themselves from nearly all other people.  It eats away at a person.

So … when my client called to tell me his new medications were helping immensely, that he had been working successfully, full-time, for many months, he couldn’t have been more thrilled.  And I was thrilled for him.   He cheerfully asserted, “I want to dump this case and … I want to dump you!”

Awesome.  I love a good break up.

5 thoughts on “Breaking up is haaaard toooo do …

  1. Anonymous

    You don’t need to be told this, I’m sure, but the lay reader of your blog needs to be aware that one does not necessarily have to “dump” his disability claim (or his lawyer) merely because he has returned to work. The claimant may be entitled to a closed period of disability or this may be the start of an unsuccesful work attempt or the beginning of a trial work period

    1. disabilitydunktank

      Yes, Anonymous, you are right. Absolutely. Claimants should not take legal advice from this blog.
      I am intentionally not getting down into those technical legal weeds. My purpose in Breaking Up Is Hard To Do is to get at the myth that claimants don’t want to work. I am restraining myself from … ‘if it’s this many hours, then …, but if it’s …, then it would be… and then there’s always the possibility of a closed period…’ kind of writing. I think it’s too alienating for lay people, and attorneys already know it.
      However, I will definitely look at how to amend the post to address your legitimate concerns.
      Thank you so much for reading and for your very useful criticism.

  2. Anonymous

    You are such a gifted writer and have such amazing insight into how disability impacts peoples lives that it’s really refreshing to read your posts. I look forward to them.

    This piece has made me think how hard it is to manage my life now. As you said, when you are working you can’t wait to have days off, vacations etc. And when you first get approved, it does feel great for a short while to have that struggle off your back. But then the reality starts hitting. You need structure and something to do to keep from going crazy, but everything you do is under the public microscope of opinion. People fighting severe depression are told universally to exercise, but if neighbors or others see them out going for a walk or going to the gym, then there’s a lynch mob crying they are not disabled and wanting them punished.

    I live way out in the woods in a rural area now because of that. I miss society and the convenience it brings quite often, but remembering why I moved out here always brings me back to reality.

    1. disabilitydunktank

      Oh my gosh, thank you so much for writing that. Now be careful with the compliments, as my mother used to say, “don’t say that, you’ll only encourage it!” I can only imagine how difficult it would be to feel like you’re under that kind of microscope even as you just putter around the yard. To make the big decision to move away from community, to go into a rural area to avoid scrutiny, is a powerful statement. My heart goes out to you.

  3. Ruth W. Doylw

    Amen! that…no shame in what kind of work you do..even if you aren’t full time…it is the self satisfaction of working. I would continue to work some if I could if I was on disability…good for your mental and physical health!


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