Okay, so like I mentioned before this will not be an easy answer or a short explanation. I will break it up into as many chewable bites as possible. It is not the same for everyone, and from what I have heard from various other people who receive disability, all of our cases were approached a different way.
I applied overall five times. Five times over six years. 9 of 10 times you will be denied straight out the first time that you apply. I have only me ONE person who was never denied. A big question is, “What do you do when you are sick, and can’t work because you need to be on disability?” The answer. You work. Okay, that’s a little hypocritical coming from me. For the last application through acceptance I lived with my parents, and did not work. I was extremely lucky. When you wake up blind some mornings or can’t get our of bed for various reasons, you can’t go to work. If you do make it to a job when you are working sometimes you get written up for being late, or calling out too much.
When you are bipolar you have ways that you cope with what is going on with your life. I was a women’s clothing retail manager for almost fifteen years, and there is a saying that “If you work in retail you have to be on something.” It’s true. Over the years, a lot of coworkers would arrive for their shifts stoned so that they could deal with customers, coworkers, and management. Before I was diagnosed, I coped after work by drinking a lot. a lot. After I was diagnosed, I was doped up on psych medications. Anyone can literally drive you crazy in retail. The worst are your direct managers, and here are a few of my favorites…
First of all, not everyone needs a college degree, but if you have a degree, like I do, in the field of Apparel and I am in management of an apparel store, I kind of have an idea of how to do my job well. Much of the time people who did not go to college end up being your manager because they had an extra four years of work on you while you were in college. So, sometimes they feel intimidated by you and are threatened and will take your job. I had a manager that was only a couple years older than me, and she was the literal definition of hot mess. She would do things like call out from work because her “step daughter’s vagina hurt” and she had to take her to the doctor. She let her three year old play with a cactus, and constantly yelled at me for making any decision regarding staffing. Once she was so angry that I hired an employee that we did not agree on, but we had to hire someone for the holiday weekend that she called the store screaming at me on the phone. She was so loud that my sales associates heard the entire tirade by just standing near the phone’s receiver. I could tell you a million stories about her, but I finally got so unstable that I went to see my psychiatrist and he immediately put me on short term leave. To shorten the outcome of this work environment, when I came back three months later, the manager was gone. The company knew that you were not allowed to let go an employee from the company immediately after they returned from short term leave, so they waited three months, found a replacement and then wrote me up three times in two weeks so that they could punish me for taking a leave. Mine was for mental health. Another ex-coworker had the same experience except she had a hysterectomy. I won’t say the name of the retailer but I will say that the last name of it is another name for someone who does alterations.
(Just before I took my immediate short-term leave for a “mental break” as ordered by my psychiatrist.)
That is my story about a crazy manager for the day, but it was around then that I applied, and was denied for the third time for disability. When you receive the letter, you have the option to appeal the claim. You should. I did not the first four times. Most people think that it will cost money to do it. The only initial cost that I had was from my psychiatrist. After you appeal and are rejected, you can find a lawyer, and you only pay them, if you win/receive disability. For example, I appealed, met with a paralegal, filled out forms, and got forms for my doctors to complete. My psychiatrist filled out a large stack of papers, probably ten or more pages front and back, regarding my medical history. The only charge I had was $60 from her office for the time billed to do the paperwork. The other doctors, if you have them for other issues fill out their papers. All of that goes to your paralegal.
It gets more complicated. Next time I will tell you about age, severity, and what is seen by the government if you are working while you have applied, and how you actually have a job, i.e. money to live.
This is just the tip o the iceberg…