Unmasking

Traditional Venetian Carnival MaskDisabled people insist, “I am not one of those scammers.”

I am routinely assured by clients that they really need the help of Social Security disability benefits.   But then, almost to a person, I am told the most trivial of ailments to explain why the help is needed.

I am no longer surprised by this, but I am consistently amazed.

Human beings’ egos are fragile.   None of us easily admit our weaknesses, failings, and vulnerabilities – sometimes not even to those with whom we are intimate.

Disabled people are no different.

Even when a disabled person is trying to prove he or she is disabled, it is incredibly difficult to tell others – intimates, acquaintances, neighbors, doctors, federal agencies – the real reasons why.   Embarrassment and shame are primal.

This basic fact leads many to believe that people claiming and receiving Social Security disability benefits … are just another one of those scammers … when nothing could be further from the truth.

2 thoughts on “Unmasking

  1. Russ

    I agree completely with what you’ve written. For example, I’ve NEVER had a claimant with an impinged lower spinal nerve VOLUNTARILY tell me about their chronic diarrhea or the problems with voiding or holding their urine. [I was a medical school anatomy professor before I changed careers to become an attorney and wandered into this practice.] After leaving the neural foramina, the spinal nerve splits into the peripheral branch, which all of us regularly hear about causing pain in the sciatic nerve distribution down the legs, but there is a visceral branch which enervates many of the gastrointestinal organs and also sends fibers down to the pudendal nerve which affects the reproductive and urinary organs. [I’m nosy, so I tactfully ask the client about urinary and rectal elimination problems.] If they have these, I ask if they’ve told their physicians about it, and all but a few have been too embarrassed to tell their doctor, so it usually isn’t in the records. This can have severe occupational consequences if the worker has to run to the bathroom 4-5 times a day without any advance “warning.”

    Also, how many people will tell their neighbors that they are unable to work because of their schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder?

    Reply
    1. Jeff C.

      I identify with this completely. There are things about me that only my wife knows… and other things that nobody knows. This is a problem with me since I’ve been on disability. People look at me and think that I look “normal” and “healthy” and see no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do all the things I used to do. They don’t see the daily struggle just to get out of bed. The runs to the bathroom because my pain medication has worn off during the night and I’ve gone from being constipated to having diarrhea. The difficulty getting up a flight of stairs or taking a walk around the Loop because of the throbbing pain in my knee joints… and don’t get me started on the mood swings or the difficulty of dealing with doctor’s offices and insurance companies. I’m fortunate to be blessed with a patient, understanding, saint of a wife who is willing to listen to me and be my shoulder to lean on or cry on, depending on the day.

      In my opinion, there is NOTHING more difficult than having to open yourself to the core and say “here I am, here is everything that is wrong with me, both mentally and physically.” In my experience, it’s almost impossible, which is why I’m grateful to have an advocate like Julia who is willing to ask the difficult questions and sometimes have to pull the necessary information out. I have no doubt that without her help, I would not have received the benefits my family so desperately needed. Thank you Julia and everyone else out there who does what you do!

      Reply

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