The Surprise of Applying for Disability

So my disability application is going much more quickly this time than the last time I applied two years ago, which I canceled before a determination could be made. I don’t think that means I’ll actually get it and I am expecting that it’s more likely that I’ll be denied on the first round.

However, I’m actually trying to keep some hope alive, since the odds of approval on the first try in Texas are 42 percent. That’s considerably better than the 30 percent approval in Michigan, where I moved from. But more importantly, it’s nearly the exact same odds of Clomid being successful in resulting in pregnancy, which worked for me the very first month that I took it. I’ve faced similar odds and come out victorious, so it’s possible this time, too.

I got something in the mail today that said my examination by a doctor for Social Security has been scheduled for mid-November. That’s interesting for one major, significant reason: this time, they are examining me for depression, not multiple sclerosis. When I applied two years ago, I got the notice for the doctor’s examination, which I canceled — but that exam was for multiple sclerosis.

This is actually really hopeful and encouraging to me for two reasons. One is that I’ve read that the chances of getting approved for disability based on mental factors are much better than physical factors because it’s a much lengthier exam.

Secondly, I have had debilitating, chronic major depression since childhood. My family doctor has been giving me depression and anxiety evaluations at every visit and I always rank as being highly depressed and anxious, usually just under or just above the cutoff where they recommend “emergency” intervention.

I’ve got a much longer paper trail for depression than for MS. But I also have the clear test results showing that according to my MRI and my spinal tap, I have multiple sclerosis as well. In fact, MS and depression are so closely linked that the depression may well be caused by the MS. But it looks like getting disability for depression could be an easier bet. I guess the Social Security Administration decided that depression is the primary reason for my claim, even though I said it was because of MS.

On the one hand, the possibility that I could get disability sooner and more easily is encouraging. But on the other hand, I’m not sure what I think about getting disability for depression. Although it’s still not a guarantee that I’ll get it either because the fact that I haven’t been seeing a psychiatrist probably works against me. (With my horrible insurance, though, I can’t really afford to spend $100 to regularly go see a psychiatrist anyway.)

Yes, it’s a condition that has significantly interfered with my life for decades. It’s probably the reason that I haven’t ever been more gainfully employed, even accounting for the child care issues I faced.

But I have this mind-over-matter attitude that tells me that severe depression alone isn’t a good enough reason to get disability. No part of me wants to feel like I’m trying to avoid work. I’m not proud of pursuing disability in any way. Yet all of my efforts to feel better, to make things work by thinking more positively and trying to redirect my thoughts, don’t ever make my depression go away. And of course they don’t work to make my depression go away since it actually has an organic cause in my brain.

I’m expecting the worst and that I won’t get approved the first time. But who knows? Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised. I think my biggest challenge will be the fact that I am so good at faking that I’m okay, it may be hard to convince the examining doctor that I’m actually not.

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