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ONE CLIENT'S STORY
At Chanukah, we Jews say “A great miracle happened here.” My miracle came about through DisAbility Rights Idaho.
Imagine receiving a letter from the IRS stating you owe them $48,000. WOW! That would catch your attention, wouldn’t it? Well, I received a letter like that from the Social Security DisAbility Insurance program in June 2008. They told me I had earned eleven dollars ($11) over their income limit in April of 2004. I now owed them for all benefits received for the past four years.
I tried unsuccessfully to use their unwieldy website! I then went to the Social Security office. They gave me information on how to have the back payment amount waived.
Legal Aid looked over my waiver appeal and then sent the appeal to a Social Security judge in Billings, MT. Within two weeks, I received a reply that the judge had made his ruling: I qualified for a waiver of this $48,000.
In February 2009, I went into Social Security with the judgment in hand, grateful to know this ordeal was about to end. Social Security told me they would be happy to put me back on the rolls but I would need to start a completely new application, which would take 18 to 24 months to approve.
Meantime, I no longer had blood pressure medicine, thyroid medicine or anti-depressants. My income from working part-time was $600 per month. So I could not afford any of my meds even the anti-depressant drugs I take to remain functional and non-suicidal. So as I struggled to fill out forms, pay bills and go to work, I was having mental fatigue, crying, and had impaired mental function. When they told me I would need to reapply for benefit, I truly despaired. I made plans to give my dogs away and kill myself. I had no reason to hope things would work out.
Then, I went to synagogue that Saturday, like always. A friend asked me after the service how things were going with Social Security. I broke down crying. He then said: “I know an agency that deals with Social Security problems and they don’t charge for their services.” He then connected me to DisAbility Rights Idaho.
DisAbility Rights Idaho gave me CORRECT information and told me about Social Security programs and forms I had never been told about before. They were totally on the ball and my benefits were restored within 30 days. They also told me about Medicaid for Workers with Disabilities to help with my medical expenses. Idaho Health and Welfare had previously turned me down for Medicaid, never mentioning this program.
The DisAbility Rights Idaho advocate was wonderful. I had to take various documents to the Social Security office. I was terrified even thinking about going there. They had repeatedly given me incorrect information. The advocate coaxed and encouraged me by calling me every morning. She even offered to go with me to Social Security if I couldn’t get a friend to go with me. She understood that severe depression leaves you with no energy to fight battles on your own behalf.
So that is my MIRACLE story. I was so impressed by DisAbility Rights Idaho that I refer all of my friends with disabilities to them for help. Now I am a fully functioning person (on her meds), contributing at a job, contributing at her synagogue, and happy to be alive once again.