Social Security – Friend or Foe?

DeniedHey! Don’t we pay into Social Security? Don’t we work out entire lives making contributions to this fund that is supposed to help us in our old age? Isn’t this OUR MONEY! How the hell can the Republicans call our contributions, our own money, a privilege that we should receive at their will? You know what they want to do, they want to invest it and use it so that they can fill their own pockets while denying the people that paid into the recompense they worked so hard for and yes spread out among all the payees its a pittance but spread out among the 1% to fatten their coffers its a financial boon. So while you will be eating cat food in your 90’s (if you can afford that because even cat food has become pricy these days) your elected officials will be eating steak on your life’s burden.

You hang on to this money like it is your own already, you filthy Republicans with your greedy tendency to think that you are the only ones entitled to enjoy this one and only life (that you so openly declare as god given in your phony attempts to make up believe your intentions are devout) and do everything in your power to hang on to the money as if it is yours to enjoy. You are already counting on the millions you have to potential to make by using (oh and already have used) to make yourselves richer while our sick and elderly go without, surviving on what… $900 to $1200 per month? Its NOT YOUR MONEY! IT IS OURS! KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OF IT!

Several years ago my partner had a heart attack. It was pretty bad… we were at a cookout at a friends home when out of no where he starting crying and said he thought he was having a heart attack. Having experienced many panic attacks in my youth I assumed that he was simply having an anxiety attack and told him to calm down and have another drink. He tried to do as I suggested and relax, sipping on his rum and coke but it wasn’t working, he said he just knew it was a heart attack and was very scared so better safe than sorry we left the cookout for the hospital. As I drove I used our OnStar Emergency and the operator promptly put me through to 911. 911 told me that they would dispatch an ambulance but I needed to pull over because they would only dispatch to a specific spot, we couldn’t be moving. I pulled over into the parking lot of a Royal Farms convenience store and as we waited I tried to comfort my partner who was not panicking… suddenly a customer from the store came running up to our car and asked if my passenger was the guy having the heart attack and I said yes. He told me he was an EMT and just heard the call on his personal radio so while we waited for the ambulance he told me he would do what he could to help. I have to admit that it did my heart good to see our community in action, here was a guy that essentially came from no where and was giving his time to help us.

The ambulance arrived and took my partner away, I followed behind in our car. When I got to the hospital they already had him in the back working on him. I was frightened and even more so when they took me into the family room (thankfully my friend, the person that was hosting the cookout, arrived at the hospital to be with me). From what I understood being escorted to the family room was an indication of a very serious scenario, potentially death. As we were walking back I asked my escort “This is bad isn’t it” and the nurse responded “yes, very bad” and that they had 8 or 9 people working on him. One they had more or less stabilized him was flown by helicopter to Johns Hopkins where he spent several days in recovery… thankfully he survived.

Shortly after he returned home his doctor admitted him back to the hospital for a “Stent” procedure. A stent is a tiny devices that is inserted in the artery to open it and clear any blockage. These tiny devices do not last forever as over time plaque begins to build up resulting in more of the blockage that it was intended to remove and as a result the person is fatigued and is back in a situation where there is potential for heart failure. The stents are medicated to prevent blockage but over time this additive fades.

My partner had a second heart attack while at work. This one was much more mild. His office called me and told that he was taken to a hospital, a short period after he was released and afterward returned to the “Cath (Catheter) Lab” where he received even more stents… followed by another heart attack and again more stents… up to 12 stents at this point… and in between all these heart attacks and stent procedures the man continued to work… as he had done his entire life, continuing to the social security that the Republicans are salivating over, the money they so desperately want so they can purchase a new yacht or have their bathroom fixtures gold plated.

We are always on edge in anticipation of another heart attack so it became quite alarming when at one point my partner’s (I hate saying partner but we aren’t allowed to be married because it offends Christian sensibilities) arm started getting numb. His cardiologist determined that whatever was going on with his arm this was not a heart attack. The numbness was continuous and would not go away and since there was no pain he dealt with the discomfort by simply shaking the numbness away however it reached a point where his grip was becoming weak and when he was no longer able to grasp items and hold them securely he sought the advice of a specialist. He was diagnosed with something called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome,  a condition resulting from the top rib pressing on nerves that run down the arm which in turn cause weakness and numbness.  It was determined that he would require surgery and as part of the procedure they would remove his top rib and the pressure on his nerves, hopefully making the numbness go away. But of course months later, despite the surgery the numbness didn’t go away and actually started occurring in his other arm as well. When the doctor recommended the same surgery for the second arm my partner balked at the notion of the pain and recovery of an additional surgery that might leave him in the same condition as his first surgery had, in other words, no changes and as such passed on the medical recommendation he had received telling his doctor that he would much rather deal with the inconvenience of a numb and weak arm then endure the recovery a second time. To this day he continues to suffer from numbness and weakness in the arm… and his the first arm that originally was supposed to have been cured as a result of the surgery still goes numb. So he’s miserable. He never knows if the numbness is the onset of yet another heart attack or is the result of the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome but he has learned to live with the numbness and weakness, occasionally dropping things because he can’t get a firm grip or have others help him by doing things such as opening jars or lifting heavier items. He is severely limited in his mobility of not just one but both of this arms. My partner continues to work despite the adversities he faces, despite the risks that it puts on his heart. He work. He pays into that fund our Republican masters are eyeing like a condor watching a dying rabbit.

Adding insult to injury during a recent examination my life partner (we have been together longer than most heterosexually god approved legal married couples have been together, but our relationship doesn’t have either your fictional deity’s or your rich white man’s stamp of approval) was diagnosed with Diabetes, a mild case of diabetes, but diabetes nevertheless. He is also told that he has high-blood pressure and cholesterol issues, and most recently anemia…yet every morning at he continues to get up and go to work doing hard labor as Warehouse Manager, his alarm ringing at 3 AM so he can arrive at his office to open his company’s building by 5 AM before anyone else arrives.

So time has passed and my partner has been healthy for sometime (as healthy as a man with Congestive Heart Failure can be) and because he had been feeling to good decided to take a drive to Tennessee to visit an Aunt, a woman he had never met before and only recently found thanks to the wonders of Facebook. He had been separated from the fraternal side of his family because his father had killed himself when je was an infant and his mother married a year or two later, she had never been legally married to my partners father, nor his younger sister’s father. His step-father was a cruel man that treated his wives children like his own demented playground not only physically abused both my partner and his sister but sexually abused them as well, however his own blood-related offspring that was conceived with my father’s mother was never subjected to the cruelties he inflicted on his wife’s bastards (As usual a digression from the topic at hand and one that I will readdress at another time).

After arriving at his Aunt’s home he was thoroughly enjoying himself with his newly discovered extended or expanded (whichever is the correct description) family, learning things about his birth father he never knew and sharing the with his blood family the abuse that he endured from his step-father. He called me during his excitement, stating how happy he was that he had finally connected with this long lost part of his family. That happiness was short-lived when a few hours later I received a call from his newfound aunt that he had suffered his 4th and yet another major heart attack. As with his first heart attack he is flown by helicopter to a hospital, this time in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Once again enduring several days of recovery in intensive care. I drove to Winston-Salem along with his sister where at some point we met with his doctor and listened, sadly, as he described my partner’s heart condition likening it to an 8 cylinder car engine with the engine being in such poor state it was only operating on 2 cylinders. On top of everything else he had been enduring over the last couple of years when he would sleep his heart rate would go so low that there was the possibility that it could stop altogether. It was at this point a Pacemaker was implanted with the theory being it would give his heart a little pulse to keep it going should something occur.

When he was strong enough (against the doctor’s recommendation – I could not afford to maintain an indefinite hotel stay while he recovered, not to mention that he and I have 5 pets at home that required our attention.) we drove home, or rather I drove home, he rode as a passenger. At home one of the first things we did was to schedule a meeting with his cardiologist…resulting yet another stent procedure… adding 2 more… he is now at approximately 14 stents at this point.

As part of his long term recovery he was told that he cannot go back to work until he is fully recovered so he applied for the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act??? Not sure of the acronym) at work and with his doctors notice he informs his job that he is not able to return to work until cleared medically… After 2 months passed his doctors still do not want him to go back to work but his FMLA limits and his job have other ideas in mind, adding to his health pressures he receives a letter from his job informing him that his FMLA is about to run out and that he would either have to return to work or he would be replaced… mind you he has worked for this company for over 20 years… I think 24 (give or take). His job is his life and he did not want to lose it, he is a worker (he is not one of these people the Republicans are insisting is anyone that requires any kind of assistance is, he is not a moocher). So as not to lose his job he asked his doctor to be released explaining that financially he could no longer enjoy the luxury of the recovery period that his doctors expected. Reluctantly his doctors released him and he returned to work…

Several months later the two of us took a weekend in New Orleans. I was being sent there for a workshop for my job and my partner accompanied me for a mini-vacation, after my daily workshops we would experience the city and since the job part of the trip ended early Friday morning we would spend the rest of the weekend today enjoying the nightlife of Bourbon Street. However almost immediately after landing he started experiencing breathing issues and as the days went by he became less and less able to function so by the time the weekend actually arrived he was barely able to leave our hotel room. Because of his health this mini-vacation was more disturbing then fun with every passing hour he became worse. When we returned home he was admitted to the hospital where once again he was given stents.

Now I need to digress a moment. I was watching Judge Judy recently and there was this heterosexual couple standing as defendants in an assault case. The suit claimed they (or at least the wife of the couple) had assaulted the plaintiffs. Judge Judy was obviously favoring the plaintiffs and upon hearing the details of the assault asked the young defendant couple (in their late 20’s, early 30’s) what they did for a living and they responded they were both on disability.  Judge Judy was in disbelief “Both?” and followed with “For what?” at which they replied that they “both” (not just one) had “learning disabilities” so they were receiving Social Security benefits and not required to work for the rest of their lives. Who knows how long they had already been this disability to begin with… who knows if they ever paid a dime into Social Security. So unlike my spouse who had been paying into the system his entire life these two leaches on society were truly getting government handouts (at their age how much could they have possible contributed…these are the guys the nasty Republicans should be going after, not the hard working life long contributors to the fund).  There is no way as young as these two people could have possibly paid into the system the money which they were actually now enjoying in their life of leisure based on a handicap which was not so debilitating as to prevent them from having the strength to attack “working” people. It they are strong enough to physically attack someone then they are strong enough to clean a toilet or lug a brick, how about a fry clerk, a Wal-Mart greeter? How stupid could there learning disorder have made them? Their handicap did not prevent them from learning or even knowing how to file a counter-suit, something I wouldn’t even know how to do without “LEARNING” because I for one don’t make it a habit of suing people. I’m sorry for this side story but as I said when I mentioned my need to digress there is a reason I mention this story which will become clear shortly.

At the insistence of my spouse’s cardiologist as well as his medical doctor we decided it would be best for him to obtain Social Security Disability, like the poor unfortunate Judge Judy couple that were so dumb they couldn’t flip a hamburger but unlike them he had paid into the system his entire life and he was about to turn 60 so considering all his body’s failures he deserved to be able to retire. Which sadly he did not want to do but he also was becoming worse and worse with every passing day. He could experience that fatal heart attack at any time and as his partner of 32 years I live in fear every moment of the day when I call home and there’s no answer. I cannot describe the angst I feel whenever he falls asleep at an odd hour I find myself checking on him constantly making sure his stomach is moving in an up/down breathing motion. Surely with all that he was going through he would not only receive but deserved the benefit as much as, if not more than the Judge Judy clowns that admitted were so stupid they couldn’t work were smart enough (or dumb enough to declare on national television) that they collected compensation under the table for labor they were too dumb to do legally. No this couple was simply taking advantage of a system and they new how to play the game well.

So we processed the paperwork. We had the support and recommendation of two doctors as well as his horrific recent history of  multiple heart attacks not to mention other health issues. You can imagine our surprise when we received a letter from Social Security stating they determined that while they believed while my partner “felt” like he was not able to work because his heart attacks and his pacemaker and his 16 (+/-) stents, his thoracic outlet syndrome, his diabetes, and his anemia… (oh and I forgot that in the mean time he was diagnosed with severe arthritis)… that despite his “feeling” that he was unable to work that his disability claim was being denied as they had determined he was indeed capable of returning to work. What the fuck was this??? They will give a couple that never worked monetary benefits for recompense from a program they never paid into for the rest of their lives but won’t give a man that has nearly died on at least 5 occasions the benefits he deserved despite his having paid in his entire life and two doctors recommending that he considered disabled. Okay now this wasn’t fair. Oh we heard over and over the stories “Well SSN will never approve your first request, you have to make multiple requests, they always deny your first request.” I don’t believe it. I think that’s a myth. I think they might deny you in hopes that you won’t fight it but with all the Lawyers touting their ability to get you funding after you’ve been denied why would our government simply give a blanket denial when they generally give people their back funding anyway once they are approved. The only thing is now the lawyer these poor people have dad to obtain will get a HUGE portion of the back funds.

So we had obtained legal counsel to convince Social Security that they should consider all the physical ailments my partner has been suffering as well as his doctor’s recommendations… and hopefully they will take them as seriously as they had they young Judge Judy couple that were incapable of learning… hopefully the will give this deserving individual the support he needs and has paid into for nearly 50 years… Since obtaining legal counsel and starting the reconsideration claim process he has again admitted to the hospital… this time he was told that his heart muscle was no longer functioning at full strength… as a result the doctors removed the PaceMaker previously implanted and inserted a combination pacemaker/defibrillator as his current condition puts him at an even higher risk to suffer sudden fatal cardiac arrest… or in other words he could drop dead at any moment. (While our lovely bureaucrats at the SSN office continue to determine there is no reason that he can’t continue to work.) Further, while recovering it was discovered that there is an 80% blockage in an artery in his neck which now puts him at a high risk to suffer a stroke… and we wait… and wait… and wait…for Social Security… While he continues to be denied benefits and his legal costs mount as the longer this draws out the more the Television Lawyers we hired will get… and while Social Security continues with their evaluation to see whether this man with all these truly proven physical ailments is entitled to his benefits… a young Judge Judy couple continues to collect because they can’t “learn”… and we wait…and wait.

(UPDATE: About a year after this posting my spouse was given disability benefits. Know that the time he had to wait he had no income and when he sought back pay for the benefits he was denied during the decision making process he was told no, he was not entitled to those funds. So my family suffered financially and were in no way compensated. But have faith, our Republican’s working to privatize and benefit from OUR money now have at least an additional $10,000 that should have been my husband’s money to help buy that new sports car or pay tuition for their child to attend a private school, or perhaps had a new swimming pool put into their backyard. Enjoy my loyal servants of the public. You deserve all you get for all that hard work you are putting into blocking everything and anything that President Obama tries to do.)

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1 Response to Social Security – Friend or Foe?

  1. gwilsonfans says:

    The young couple with learning disabilities is milking the system. They can easily work but they’re too stupid to get a job. Your partner should be able to get Social Security because he can no longer work. Keep fighting the system. Your partner may have to take his case to an administrative law judge to get the benefits he earned when he worked.

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