Thriving while progressive chronic illness does its thing.

Our Government’s Prognosis

I was awarded Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recently. “Awarded” is their term, as if I have won the award of being chosen out of the malingers to be a real, true, crip. Only 30% of applicants are as lucky as me to be approved on the first application, the rest must either appeal the decision and work harder to prove their cripdom, and eventually win, or otherwise are never approved.


I got a letter in the mail today from the Social Security Administration (SSA) explaining my benefits and my “rights and responsibilities.” There’s a section called “Things To Remember For The Future.” This is how it begins: “Because we expect your health to improve, we will review your case in June 2013.”


Wow, SSA! Thanks for the vote of confidence! By what calcuation, cold and hard I imagine, did you conclude that expectation? I spend restless nights, sleepless nightmares, disrupted moments of quiet, wondering whether I will get better. Will my gastroparesis continue to improve with my gastric neurostimulator? Will my flare up’s become more or less frequent? Will I be able to work? Will work stress make my gastroparesis worse, or will it provide a much needed distraction? I asked my gastroenterologist – the one who set me up with the gastric stimulator. He’s world renown for his work with gastroparesis. He told me with this disease, it’s too hard to tell. “It waxes and wanes, I couldn’t say, make sure you keep you disability claim on file,” were his words.


They expect my health to improve. Does that mean they can plan for it? They can stop worrying about maintaining a savings safety net for the next period of high medical bills and unemployment? They can think about children and a future without worrying, “will I live to see them through high school, at least?” They can talk to employers and feel confident about their responses, because they can count on their bodies to carry out what their vocal cords are proclaiming? They can reassure their upset emotions that “time will heal all, just wait, it will get better,” with all the confidence of their omniscience?


If so, I do look forward to June, 2013, with the gusto and energy of an able-bodied person who does not burden her government.

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One thought on “Our Government’s Prognosis

  1. Peter R. on said:

    I too was informed recently that “the doctors and other trained staff who decided that you are disabled expect your health to improve”.

    Amazing how nonchalant the government is here — casually dropping this hint of medical opinion without providing any contextual information (i.e. source., date, etc.) to validate, verify or substantiate it. In my case it contradicts 10 years of medical opinions.

    I’m torn between (a.) calling the Social Security Administration and demanding to know what doctor specifically said that my health would improve, and that they supply this in writing to me in its entirety along with the entire relevant medical report; and

    (b.) calling the Social Security Administration and berating the highest-level person I can reach for being so blatantly insensitive as to use “expect your health to improve” as a checkbox-choice phrase, one of 6 possibilities (see for the opening statement in this letter, selected on the basis of *for administrative convenience* rather than for **clinical relevance upon a recipient’s particular medical situation**.

    Leaves a bad taste in my mouth? Serious, serious understatement.

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