Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Family and Mental Illness: (Part 6) Social Security Saves the Day

Sheldon's note: This is a part of a series on my father's mental health issues when  I was a teen, and how it affected my family, if you have never read this series before, I highly recommend you start reading past posts, starting with post 1.

In post 5, I talked about how my father was starting to recover cognitively due to the Neurontin he was taking for seizures, and about how the state of Illinois wasn't very willing to help us (other than giving us Medicaid, which helped, but we needed more help than that, financially). My mom knew that despite his mind starting to clear, that due to his mental health issues and the seizures, he would not be able to work.

We were not very hopeful about Social Security granting him disability benefits, and we had heard many horror stories about how hard it was to get benefits (I talked about this a little in post 4), but we knew something had to be done, even if it took a lawyer to sue the federal government to get it.

We went down to a federal district courthouse complex in East Saint Louis, Illinois, which housed the local Social Security offices. We didn't know what to expect, but we were quite frankly assuming that we would get the same treatment there as we would from the state of Illinois.

We were most definitely wrong in our assumptions. The differences couldn't have been any more drastic in comparison. We could actually get people on the phone when we called, and when we arrived, we didn't have to wait long to be set up with a caseworker, who was respectful, and very businesslike about it.

 She made copies of the paperwork from the psychological testing that was done, and the results of it, and later set up an appointment with a psychiatrist in the town of Alton that they had a contract with to review applications. My mom and dad later went to his office, he reviewed the paperwork, interviewed my dad, and we were left to wait for a while afterwards, not knowing what would happen.

Then, one day, we got the news in the mail, a Social Security award letter, declaring that he had in fact been awarded Social Security benefits, and it stated how much per month we would receive per month, and that he would get several months of back pay from it.  It was a relief, the money that we had from the savings account, and the 401k was starting to run low, and it helped us to catch up on past bills. It had been about 9 months from the day that he had walked off his job, and all of this financial insecurity was finally over.

We were glad that it didn't take longer for Social Security to respond, and that it wasn't necessary to get a lawyer, life was starting to look up. Though my father was glad for the help from Social Security, he was still very depressed, and restless.

He needed something to do to take his mind off of the fact that he was no longer working, since his job was so much a part of his life for so long, he wasn't suicidal, but he felt like he had nothing to live for, no reason to get up in the morning (and it was still hard to keep him from sleeping all the time, and refusing to eat).

My mom had an idea to keep him busy that worked, but my dad wasn't happy about it in the beginning.

To be continued in post 7


  1. That's interesting. I had a buddy who had a physically disabled wife and it took her several times to get on disability. I guess every case is different.

  2. I am awaiting what your mom came up with to keep your dad busy.


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