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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bipolar and Disability Retirement

Well folks, the time has come.  After 17 years of being an environmental engineer I am now unemployed due to events from my last manic episode.

I had three manic spells during the time I've been working as an engineer.  I managed to climb out of the aftermath of the first two episodes by the skin of my teeth.  But this last one did me in.  I'm guessing some of you have had similar experiences.

So, after some consideration I decided to apply for disability retirement benefits.  I'm trying to get the benefits for the debilitating effects of bipolar disorder.  Long-term depression and anxiety are my incapacitating enemies these days.

I don't know how much I will get if approved.  I figure the most I'll get a fraction of my previous pay, which won't be enough for my current living costs.

Therefore, I still need to find other sources of income or I must start drastically reducing my standard of living.  I can just see myself now, living in a trailer by the freeway.  Not!

Social Security has this cheery blurb on their website: "While we spend a great deal of time working to succeed in our jobs and careers, few of us think about ensuring that we have a safety net to fall back on should we become disabled.  This is an area where Social Security can provide valuable help to you."  This makes me want to go out and buy a t-shirt that says I'M DISABLED.  Well, not really.

One good thing is that the application process can be done completely online these days, which saves you the hassle of making copies, mail, and delivery to the local SS office.  The less time spent dealing with the post office or a case worker the better.

For SS disability you must demonstrate you (1) can not perform the work you used to do; (2) can not adjust to other work because of your disability; and (3) expected the disability to last for a year or longer.

Today I'm working on the part where I report specifics about my disability.  They say it should only take 90 minutes to complete.  Yeah, right.  It's going to take that much time just for me to locate all the information they ask for.  I can see this is going to be fun.

Have you applied for disability before?  What was your experience?

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