I Am Rich

More often than not, we measure someone’s success, their worth, their like-ability and or level of importance by their pocketbooks and bank accounts. Ask yourself – how often have you been impressed when someone in front of you in the grocery line and whips out a hundred dollar bill to pay for $5 worth of ‘stuff’? Or how about the guy who pulls out his money clip and there must be — what? A thousand twenty dollar bills in that thing? Our first thought is probably along the lines that the man or woman is most likely pretty well off, if not just stinkin’ rich. And maybe – just maybe – they are not rich at all. After all, how do you define ‘rich’?

About a week ago, I was thinking about all the people I know who are sick or are caring for a loved one who is sick or struggling with an illness of whatever sort. It doesn’t have to be cancer. It doesn’t have to be Parkinson’s disease. It can be depression. An addictive behavior. Insecurities. Nightmares of the past. Some sort of illness that debilitates you from living fully in the now.

Jan’s husband of 23 years is in the hospital fighting what the doctors have called a ‘losing’ battle with cancer. I talked to her the other day – not long after she received the news of her daughter being in a horrifying car accident, not expected to live. She’s pulled through – somehow. So far. Oh – and did I mention Jan doesn’t work and besides her husbands little income, she relies on what little she receives from Social Security Disability Income because she was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s disease six years ago at the age of 38?

Lance was given up for adoption at birth so his mother could continue her sordid lifestyle. Raised in a foster home, he was addicted to heroin by the age of twelve, under the guidance of his lovely foster parents. By the time he was fourteen, he ran away from the drug, mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse that defined his childhood.

Lindsey has just divorced after a 28 year long battle with a man who admittedly never loved her and expected a slave servant instead. There was no affection, no physical touch – unless you count the tip of the gun touching the tip of her nose while he threatened her to obey. She obeyed for 28 years until he found someone his senior who was able to take care of him in a monetary lifestyle he had only dreamed of. Lindsey was left with absolutely nothing.

I could go on and on. I see some of these faces each day. I talk to the voices and hear their tales of anguish and their desperate cries for hope and healing. Some of them hold on to a rope of faith in which they cannot see Who holds the other end. But they know. Oh – do they know. Some lay in bed at night and as the darkness consumes their being, they are desperately yearning for some lifeline that they can grasp hold of.So… about a week ago I’m driving in the car thinking of these people. Of course, this was right after I was thinking about myself. Thinking about how I feel like such a burden emotionally, physically, and financially to others because I have Parkinson’s disease. Thinking about addictions that ravage our families and even though ‘only’ three out of 18 family members have some sort of addiction, those ‘addictions’ personally affect all 18 people. And there’s more I was dwelling on, but as I was thinking about myself, I pulled up to a glaring red light and that is where God stopped me.

You are rich.

What?!?

You are rich.

There was no more explanation needed. I knew. I knew exactly what that meant.

You’re right Lord. I am rich. I have everything because of You. I have a husband who loves me and respects me and takes care of me without complaint. He may not know it or believe it but he contributes so much more than others know or can understand. I may not know how each bill will be paid, but You do. I may not know if those I love will ever be free from the demons that hold them captive, but I have relentless hope in You. And, even though I have Parkinson’s and sometimes fear what tomorrow may hold, I have You. And every time I step outside and I look up into the sky or hear a bird sing or see the colors of all, I realize how rich I am. The things of this world may try to rob my joy, leave me hopeless and sitting in pity, but it can’t, for I am rich. And if I forget that, I will think of Lindsey and Lance and Jan and remember life really could be a whole lot worse.

Getting Help When Filing for SSDI for Parkinson’s Patients

For over three years now, Ram Meyyappan has been a writer and an editor for Social Security Disability Help (www.disability-benefits-help.org). She contacted me regarding doing a guest blog post on Parkinson’s Journey on getting help when filing for disability for Parkinson’s patients.

This is her very informative and helpful article for those seeking to hopefully, speed up what can often be a very long, frustrating, and discouraging process in the PD community – filing for disability. I hope you find it helpful and / or can pass it along to others who may be in need of direction in their attempts at filing for disability through the Social Security system.

Journeying with you – sherri

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits Due to Parkinson’s disease
As you likely know, if you have firsthand experience with this condition, people with Parkinson’s disease face worsening symptoms such as muscle stiffness, tremors, and trouble with motor skills. As these symptoms become more severe over time, it will become increasingly difficult, or impossible, for this person to maintain a job. Not only do people living with Parkinson’s often struggle to pay for day-to-day expenses, but they also have to worry about costly medical expenses. This is when having Social Security disability benefits become a major source of relief.

Qualifying for Social Security Benefits With Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s is a special case when it comes to Social Security claims because there is no definitive test or lab report that will prove a Parkinson’s diagnosis. What you can provide is a detailed report provided by your physician – perhaps a neurologist – that demonstrates any physical evidence of your condition, as well as the severity of the symptoms you are facing.

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is typically reached once a physician finds evidence that you are showing signs of at least two of the cardinal symptoms, which includebradykinesia (which refers to slowness of movements), muscle rigidity, and tremors. When determining if someone is eligible for Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks for evidence that these symptoms impede significantly on an individual’s ability to complete typical workplace tasks.

People who live with Parkinson’s disease are generally approved for assistance if they are able to provide strong evidence that the condition has significantly made it difficult to stand, lift, walk, or even sit for an extended period of time. A strong Social Security Disability application will typically include documentation provided by medical professionals that show that the applicant is experiencing ongoing and debilitating symptoms in at least two extremities, even though they are undergoing prescribed treatments.

The SSA Blue Book, when listing eligibility requirements, does not specifically address the many emotional and cognitive issues that people experiencing the later stages of Parkinson’s can often experience. However, if these symptoms are making it difficult for someone to understand and follow directions when working, they can be used as evidence in the application process.

Understanding The Difference Between SSI and SSDI
There are two different Social Security Disability Programs for which you can apply: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).The primary difference between SSDI and SSI is that SSDI benefits are accessible to people that are too disabled to work, and who have paid into the system through payroll taxes, and have accumulated enough work credits. SSI benefits are available to people who are disabled, or over 65 years old, but who have a very limited income and who have not accumulated enough work credits to receive SSD assistance. SSI benefits are strictly needs based, and the amount received will depend upon income and the state where the applicant resides.

You can learn more about the two disability programs here:http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/245/~/difference-between-social-security-disability-and-ssi-disability

What to Expect from the Social Security Disability Application Process
It is important to realize that the SSD application process can be quite lengthy. Most people with Parkinson’s disease, who apply, are often denied assistance initially, but a substantial number are then approved for benefits after an appeals and hearing process.

If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it is never to soon to begin investigating the SSD application process, as you could be waiting over a year to begin receiving badly needed financial assistance. To improve the chances that you will be granted approval for Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible, it is recommended that you seek legal guidance during the complex application and appealing procedures.

Article by Ram Meyyappan
www.disability-benefits-help.org
Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help
ram@ssd-help.org