Social Security Disability Claim Denied? How I Got Approved
Neurocardiogenic Syncope, POTS, and Having to Stop Work
About six years ago, I was diagnosed with neurocardiogenic syncope, also known as vasovagal syncope. A year later, I was diagnosed with POTS, or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. Both were managed fairly well with medication. But even with medication, it seemed I was hospitalized like every six months or so. As you can guess, it didn't help my employer any to have someone that ill on his staff. But he didn't let me go, and I continued to work my hardest for him.
In January 2017, I became so ill that I was unable to continue working, much to my great disappointment. I had become so dizzy and disoriented that I had to call my husband to drive me home on his lunch hour. I liked my job. I liked working outside the home because it gave me a sense of purpose, and I enjoyed meeting new people, It also helps to pay the bills! I just wasn't able to physically stay at the office all day; and my position required me to be on site, so I couldn't work from home.
Applying for Social Security Disability for the First Time
In June of that year, I finally bit the bullet and applied for Social Security Disability. I was hopeful I would be able to improve enough to return to work, but instead, my condition continued to deteriorate.
Statistically, only about 40% of those who apply are approved for their disability claim the first time. I fell into the 60% who were denied initially. I was a little upset but not overly surprised since I had been advised to expect a denial.
My Disability Claim Was Initially Denied—This Is What Happened Next
When my first disability claim was denied, I filed an appeal in the hopes of getting approved. My Disability Claims Specialist (a non-attorney who aids those applying for disability benefits) helped me with the appeal. I was hopeful since those who were acquainted with me knew me as being an honest person and a hard worker. Surely, I'd be approved this time! A little naive, I know, but that's what I thought at the time.
I Was Denied a Second Time
After a few months, I got a letter in the mail from the Social Security Administration denying my claim for the second time. I was tearful as my husband and I were desperate to get approval. The loss of my income had severely disrupted our finances, and we were in danger of having to file for bankruptcy on top of everything else. The Disability Claims Specialist advised me to continue writing in my journal to document my medical issues, so I did.
In the meantime, I continued to go to different medical specialists in my state in an effort to get a definitive diagnosis. I saw 13 different specialists in as many months, but not one of them was able to help me learn what was wrong with me. It was so disheartening! My physical condition was still getting worse, and as you can imagine, even with insurance, my medical bills were quickly accumulating. With only my husband's income, they seemed to be growing mountainous with no way to pay them off. We make monthly payments, but as the old saying goes, "You can't get blood from a turnip!"
Finally Getting Definitive Diagnoses
In May of 2018, I finally got an appointment with a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. In August, my husband and I drove from Arkansas to Rochester to see some of the best specialists in the world, confident that we would finally get that elusive diagnosis!
Within the first two hours of our first appointment, I was diagnosed with PPPD, or persistent postural-perceptual dizziness, orthostatic intolerance, and a gait disorder. What a blessing it was to finally have a name for what was affecting so much in my life! We were, and still are, hopeful these diagnoses will help at the disability hearing.
Third Time's a Charm: I Got Approved for A Disability Court Date!
Finally, the envelope from Social Security we had been waiting on came, providing me with my court date for my disability claim. It suddenly felt overwhelming. It was finally really going to happen. As of this writing, I have an appointment to appear before a judge with the Claims Specialist, and the judge will decide whether I am approved or denied.
After waiting so long for this step in the process, I was terrified! I made a post in a chronic illness Facebook group asking those ladies to pray for me and my success at the hearing. I knew they would pray; I also knew they would be supportive of me as many of them have been through the same process.
One of their comments has stayed with me. She wrote that I shouldn't be worried or afraid because "God already knows the decision and is waiting for you on the other side of it." Such wise words!
My husband and I have been prayerful throughout our relationship, so that comment was an eye-opener for me. Of course God knows! And he will be with me before, during, and after the hearing. I didn't have to be afraid any longer!
Just the other day, I was thinking about how often I pray heartfelt prayers about this hearing. I know God hears me, and I know he's with me. I smiled to myself, glad to have thought that maybe I can have knees like James. (James, the author of the the Book of James in the New Testament, was known to have camel knees because he was so often kneeling in prayer.) What a compliment that is! James was known to be a prayerful man and encouraged the readers of his book to have a strong prayer life. So maybe I will one day have camel knees too!
Anxiously Awaiting Approval
How will all this play out? Will the judge approve me, or will I have another denial? One outcome leads to elation; the other to desolation. I'm not afraid, though, because I have a long-term plan.
Proverbs 3:5-6 reads,
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (NIV)
In light of that, I know what I must do. Trust fully in my LORD and give him praise and adoration regardless of what comes. He will make my path straight, even if it appears as a mountain trail switchback to me!
The prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 55:8-9:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
What If I Am Denied Again?
If I am denied, then so be it. I won't give up because I know my situation better than anyone. I know that if I were able to work, I would—whether it be at home or outside of the home. Currently, I'm actively promoting and selling wholesale jewelry online. I am able to work an hour here or there. On my bad days, I can rest as my body needs it. But I will still continue to pursue the Social Security Disability. It would help my family so much!
As a Christian, I Will Give Praise to God If I Am Approved
If I am approved, I will give praise to God, and God alone. I will continue to pursue my "camel knees" in thankfulness and gratitude.
I am reminded of Psalm 121: 1-8. The first verse reminds me to seek the Lord. The second verse gives me assurance. The third and fourth verses give me peace, and the fifth through eighth verses tells how the LORD will be with me always. The Psalmist wrote such powerful words in just a few short verses!
I Won't Lose Hope
Whether I receive a denial or an approval for the Social Security Disability, I know I am still God's child, and I will put my hope and my trust in him.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
Every time I read this verse, I find some new gem in it. Today, the take-away is—if you'll allow me to paraphrase—"Come to me and you will receive rest." Rest is what I want and what I need. All I have to do is draw near to God, and he will draw near to us (James 4:8). We will find peace and rest there.
"My Help Comes from the Lord" by Free Indeed and Jerome Williams
Please Leave a Comment!
If you are struggling with a disability, please comment below. I'd love to visit with you about it. I understand how it feels.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Diana Majors