Monday, February 16, 2004

The Mindless Bureacracy...
For those of you who might not be in the know, your faithful blogger has taken a year off from work on Long-Term disability. The nature of my disability is mental, hence the name of this blog. I suffer from the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress disorder and Panic disorder as a result of being in close proximity to the 9/11 attacks in New York City.

This does not make me unusual, since I'm pretty sure that everyone around here was affected in similar ways, but just might not have had symptoms pop up yet or were able to deal with it on their own.

Anyway, one of the things one is entitled to when when is on long-term is Social Security Disability Insurance and Social Security Supplimental Income. These are benefits available to you through the government --- benefits that you have paid for with your taxes.

What one does to apply for these benefits is to fill in the same stack of forms 22 times and wait for the gestapo at the Social Security Administration to decide if you "qualify". They make this determination by reviewing medical reports, a personal interview and by some internal criteria that one must have a degree in Hieroglyphics to understand.

In the end, I'm told, about 75% of applicants get denied the first time around. What this means is that you must go to court (where the criteria for establishing disability are somewhat lower) and fight for what is legally yours.

And herein lies the problem. In my case, seven professionals have deemed that during the time of my disability that I was crazier than a Palestinian. There is documented evidence that I must take medication and undergo extensive therapy to correct the problems,and that, initially, they did prevent me from operating in something resembling a normal fashion.

The interview that was to determine my "eligibility" took all of 20 minutes. It took longer to fill in the paperwork. It also took place nine months after I began medicating and therapy, and so my greatest fear was realized: at the time of the interview I was simply "not crazy enough" to be considered eligible, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Apparently, because I can brush my teeth and tell time, I'm only suffering from a, quote, "bad case of nerves", end-quote.

I will go through the motions because there is nothing else I can do at the moment, but I've been hearing horror stories about other folks and their trials and tribulations:

- AIDS victims denied benefits.
- Alzheimer's patients denied benefits.
- Amputees denied benefits.

The vast majority of these folks request hearings, and eventually get what they were entitled to in the first place. In the meantime, bureaucrats, lawyers, judges and doctors make a fortune or at least stay occupied.

And for what? To pay out more money after the hearing than would have been paid out if the evidence had been properly reviewed in the first place?

The system perpetuates itself, most Americans remain oblivious to it, and shut their mouths and pay for it. Hell of a way to run a railroad.

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