How the Grinch stole my SSDI

Administrative Law Judge Stephanie Katich declared me “not disabled” in her decision of my claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This ends a 20-month struggle to receive the whopping $1,236 a month I would have gotten if she had ruled in my favor (along with back pay). My initial application was denied because I have a bachelor’s degree and apparently that automatically means I can be retrained for some other position, never mind the chronic pain, fatigue and brain fog.

So I filed an appeal (they call it Reconsideration), which was denied for the same reason. Bollocks!

So then, along with my attorney, I had a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (well, it was on the phone due to COVID-19, so she couldn’t see me, and I had to be in a separate room from my attorney to prevent her from coaching me). That was Oct. 4. The day after Thanksgiving, Katich sent me a 21-page package explaining why she denied my claim. I don’t understand any of it.

I have a parking placard issued by the state of Indiana saying I’m qualified to park between those blue lines at the grocery store. I have prescriptions that cause side effects that are almost worse than the ailment they’re intended to remedy. I refuse to take opioids, which apparently is a sign that I’m not really in pain, but if I do take opioids then I’m dismissed as either a drug addict or a drug pusher. My depression is so bad now that it’s all I can do to keep from running out of spoons.

But this isn’t my first rodeo having the rug pulled out from under me. My motto has always been, “Adapt, migrate or die: It’s not just for monkeys anymore.” And of course my husband, being a retired Marine Corps/Army veteran, has always told me, “Improvise, adapt and overcome.”

Ironically though, the voice screaming the loudest in my head is that of Erin Fogg, who ran for Allen County Council in November 2020. She was in the middle of a debate about abortion—she argued the pro-choice stance at an event hosted by Right to Life of Northeast Indiana—when she just walked out of the room, not finishing the debate.

I’m not agreeing with anything she said or did that night, but afterwards on her Facebook page, she wrote something along the lines of, “You take your queen ass and walk right off their chess board.”

Even though my SSDI claim has nothing to do with abortion (I don’t even have a uterus anymore), I’m done playing the SSDI game.

I could file an appeal with the Appeals Council, but since I started my claim in Indiana and now I live in Kentucky, and I don’t have enough spoons to go through this dehumanizing process again, I’m taking my queen ass and walking off the SSA chess board.

I have migrated and now I am adapting to this new gimpy, morbidly obese, single-boobed body and I am going to rock it until I start hearing harp music.

Hashtag: Grit.

Published by Gwen Clayton

Gwen Clayton is a freelance writer living in Ashland, Kentucky. She is the former editor of the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly, and has written for numerous other publications since 1986. Her first book, the paranormal thriller "Fermata Cellars," was published in 2016, and her Bible-inspired short story, "Purr: A story of love, lions and a Hebrew named Daniel," was released in 2019. She recently finished writing, "Zinfandel’s Grimoire," which is the sequel to 'Fermata;' that book is in the editing and design phase of publication. Her current works in progress include the third book in the Rivervine Trilogy, tentatively titled, "Comatis Unveiled," and the nonfiction, "Dragon's Poker Table: A rocker chick's breast cancer journey." Her books are independently published under the imprint, Rivervine LLC. In addition to writing books, Clayton contracts as a copywriter for local, small businesses.

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