My Husband’s Disability is Why I am a Freedom Disability Advocate Now
I took a turn off my medical career path after my husband became disabled. Our struggle to get through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application process turned me into a proactive Freedom Disability Advocate.
My Husband’s Story
I never even knew that we could get help applying for SSDI when my husband developed degenerative disc disease and lumbar spinal stenosis due to working as a machinist for 25 years. The physical toll from his work caused extreme limitations in what he could do. After two surgeries, he definitely couldn’t work anymore. So, we decided that he should apply to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for disability benefits.
When he first applied on his own, he received a thick packet of paperwork from SSA, which I completed for him. We thought it would be easy to get approved, but it wasn’t. He was denied. We were not prepared for that and had no idea how difficult this was going to be for us.
We decided to hire an attorney to help us appeal the decision. He asked me to get the appropriate letters from my husband’s doctors to validate my husband’s medical history. I have since learned how important it is for a disability representative to help the claimant get complete documentation from all treating sources in order to build a strong case. My attorney didn’t tell me much and it seemed I was doing all the legwork. We got denied a second time. We then applied for a hearing.
It was a very stressful time for us. We had faith, though, that we’d get through it. It took another year of waiting before we got our hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. During the wait we had very little communication from our attorney and really had no clear idea what to expect at the hearing.
When we got there, our attorney didn’t show up at the appointed time. The judge was not happy. He actually called our attorney and demanded that he get there within the hour, which he did. We had a five-minute pre-hearing preparation talk with him. That was it.
My Decision to Become an Advocate
To our relief, my husband did get approved 30 days later. It took two and half years for my husband to get approved for disability benefits. This difficult experience got me thinking that there had to be a better way to help people get through the process than what we experienced with our attorney.
This is why I studied to become a Freedom Disability Advocate. I bring first-hand experience and lots of empathy to the job. I know what it feels like to get denied. I know what it feels like to wait. And I know what it feels like to finally win. There can be no greater joy for me when someone I’ve worked with gets awarded their benefits.
People deserve quality disability application help, but there seems to be a disparity in finding good representation services. I wish I had known about Freedom Disability for my husband. It may have taken just as long to get approved because there’s no getting around the wait for SSA to schedule hearings, but perhaps if we had worked with a Freedom Disability attorney or non-attorney advocate we wouldn’t have felt so alone. Now that I am a Freedom Disability Advocate I make sure that the people I help won’t feel the way my husband and I did.