Come See Their Faces, Learn the Facts

July 11, 2016 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: July 11, 2016

learn the facts ssaIn times of tragedy and uncertainty, Social Security is a constant for America, a lifeline. Our Faces and Facts of Disability website is at the heart of who we are as an agency. We share the stories about people living with disabling conditions and receiving benefits from Social Security. The site puts a face and name to people who truly benefit from our programs. Learning the facts and hearing peoples’ stories about disability allows for a better understanding of the Social Security program.

You can hear stories like Carrie’s who, after college, began climbing the corporate ladder in the insurance industry. She was thriving at her job, but eventually, she became ill and could no longer function at the demanding pace her position required. Carrie has Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that changed and transformed her life.

“It felt like my significance was dropping,” said Carrie in her story.

With a condition that prevented her from working, and a family to support, Carrie applied for Social Security disability benefits. Her benefits allow her to get the rest she needs and helps with the cost of her medicines. Her disability benefits also make it possible for her to feed and clothe her children.

When she needed it the most, Carrie turned to the system she had paid into throughout her working life. Social Security provides some measure of protection for workers and their families from the loss of income because of disability.

The Social Security Act sets a very strict definition of disability. Social Security pays benefits to insured people who can’t work because they have a medical condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death. Because the eligibility requirements are so strict, our disability beneficiaries are among the most severely impaired people in the country.

Social Security is so much more than just retirement benefits, as Carrie will tell you. We’re not just going to be there for you in retirement. We’re here to protect you now, in the event of disability, or to provide survivors benefits if a loved one you depend on dies. We’re here for you through life’s journey, securing today and tomorrow.

We invite you to visit our Faces and Facts of Disability website to meet people who succeed despite having a disability.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications


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  2. Dorothy A.

    I am age 59. I have been disabled since age 56 due to MS. I applied for SSDI personally upon leaving my employment of nearly 30 years at the same position. I had no problems filing and being approved for this program even though I had no legal help.My only advise to the public is to be aware that SSDI assistance begins AFTER you are unable to work for 6 months. There is not a provision for back pay – so be prepared to cover living expenses for at least that long if you should become disabled (even if your experience is as efficient as mine was). It is so easy to just live for today, but you also need to plan for the unexpected future that may happen to you. I was expecting to never need this help, but found out it was a blessing it was available. Now is maybe great, but no knows what the future holds for each of us

    Plan your own future with savings!

  3. Rabby

    This is all about helping people who have contributed to the system all their life, to get the deal they need. No one who hasn’t been through disability knows how tough it is. Not only economically but you also need to consider the emotional hardship too. Disability deserves respect and social security benefits – it’s the sign of a humane society. 

  4. Rick

    If you think it is tough getting benefits, you should try collecting on a private disability insurance claim. My insurance company said that since I was not working(Duh, no kidding back hurt too much), that I did not qualify. This was even with a doctor’s opinion. Called my state insurance commissioner’s office and explained what was going on. After about 12 weeks of waiting, they sided with the insurance company! So much for being an advocate for the consumer! Got a lawyer, and as soon as he initiated contact with them they started offering to settle. The whole system is rigged for the insurance companies and their lobbyists. Cost me a hell of a bunch of money, but I finally got my settlement(less about a third for the attorney). Bottom line is this: When buying private insurance, buy double the amount that you think you will need, since you are going to have to hire a lawyer to collect any money!
    For SSD: When filling out the forms you need to list as number one reason you can’t work that you can’t pass the pre-employment physical exam, and make darn sure your Doctor backs you up on that. I did that, and got mine in 89 days without a lawyer…Good luck!

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  6. arac k.

    Can I found any details about this subject in other languages?


  7. Annelisia

    I was involved in a traumatic, almost deadly, car wreck when I was 22 y/o & someone ran a red light. I ended up losing a lot of my memories due to a TBI (traumatic brain injury) while having bleeding in my brain, skull fractures, amnesia, internal bleeding which required me to be cut open from under my breast down past my belly button, multiple fractured ribs on the left side, broken clavicle on the left side, ruptured spleen which was removed, lacerated liver, multiple blood transfusions, a severely crushed pelvis which broke practically every bone in the pelvic region, including most I’ve never heard of (tailbone, pubic bones, iliac wings, etc). Not one of these broken bones could be reset, meaning wherever they broke, they healed crooked and somehow my sacrum grew to attack to my last vertebra but on one side. They said I would never walk again, but being a single mom at 22 and had recently graduating with my paralegal diploma, while just starting a modeling career & finishing my first commercial as my second income I was determined to get back on my feet. Unfortunately I had to leave my dream job behind of acting & modeling so my daughter & I could relocate 4 hours away to where my parents lived so I could get the help I needed with my daughter & my rehabilitation but a year later I was working again as a paralegal but lived with chronic pain as my spine slowly got worse & where nerves were damaged. I had 4 other car wrecks during the 18 years I worked as a paralegal which exacerbated by previous injuries each time (none were my fault). Then in 2011 I was assaulted and ended up with a second TBI and more herniations in my spine. My neck & lumbar spine being the worse. I developed cervical rotational scoliosis in my neck so I have a crooked neck now. My herniations are flattening my thecal sac and almost every disc in my neck & lumbar spine are herniated. I have arthritis all down my spine, chronic migraines and constant chronic pain which worsened each year. My last day to work was 3/1/2013 due to having issues remembering things, not completing tasks, constant complaints of pain requiring me to have to take breaks and then I eventually started falling asleep at my desk, being late to work (18 years as a paralegal I was a complete OCD workaholic arriving to work early, working through lunch, staying late or taking work home then suddenly this). My neurologist who had treated me for my 2011 concussion/TBI referred me to a sleep specialist and 13 days after I was let go I was diagnosed with narcolepsy.
    It’s recommended to rest following a TBI at least 6 months to a year but being a single mom of 2 girls & a workaholic I kept going and my neuro thought maybe I had a stroke at some point. The 18 months I worked at my last job I had fallen down the concrete stairs which I’m sure did not help my brain & spine.

    Searching for a job was even more difficult due to not being able to wake up in the morning to get my daughter to school timely. My new diagnosis was controlling my life & I had no health insurance anymore & couldn’t help but want to constantly sleep. I hired a lawyer & filed for SS disability in Feb. 2014, almost a year after my new diagnosis. Had to get on Medicaid & food stamps then ran through all my retirement funds trying to survive & pay my mortgage. I had been treated off & on for PTSD from my traumatic car wreck, from the assault which had also knocked out my top four teeth, & “other things”, previously treated for OCD, anxiety & major depression with my first psychiatric visit when I was 14 & tried to kill myself I was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder but my mom told me that was wrong & I was perfect just the way I was so I grew up trying to be perfect, look perfect never mentioning my original diagnosis to my new psychiatrist I saw at age 24 on because my mom said I didn’t have it. Anyways I was denied and denied, referred to two SS drs for evaluations both staying in writing that I could no longer be a paralegal or do other work. I had 2 sleep specialist/neurologists stating I could not work, I had a psychiatrist stating I could not work and then my pain management dr who had me on slow release morphine 24/hrs along with other medications so obviously stating I shouldn’t even be driving while on narcotics if they make me drowsy (I already have narcolepsy and excessive daytime sleepiness) so I’m chancing getting a DUI or involved in an accident every time I get behind the wheel but there are times (like the day of my hearing) when I had to drive because my only support is my boyfriend & he was in the hospital having double knee surgery so I had no choice but to drive to the hearing. The judge went against 5 doctors saying I couldn’t work, two of which were hired & paid for by SS not even acknowledging my narcolepsy and excessive daytime sleepiness stating I could work 8 hrs a day doing sedentary work…. That was in Jan 2016 so now I’m awaiting the appeal process as I have no insurance, no income & foreclosure knocking at my door. It’s been over 3 years since I worked making a VERY good salary with bonuses in the thousands at times. Obviously I would love to be driving my BMW or convertible mustang vs my dads old truck with no AC, when I have to drive. How much more evidence is needed? How much longer will this stress continue? We all know stress exacerbates medical conditions and I’m still being tested to find out why I’ve suddenly gained 60lbs in 5 months and why I randomly walk sideways when I start to walk or why my balance is causing me to fall to the right or backwards. I feel like I’ve been living a nightmare since 2011 & all I do is pray for the door to open so I can get out. If anyone knows how long this appeal part takes or how to expedite this please let me know. I pray for all of you that are in my situation. I’m aware of at least 2 people who flew right through this in 6 months and aren’t even close to being in a medical condition I’m in and some who work under the table & it’s so unfair that I’ve had to suffer this long to the point of losing my 12 y/o daughter due to no income & not being able to care for her bc I can’t currently care for myself with assistance but if I had been approved I would have the help I need to have my baby girl back vs missing out on her growing up & of being a mom. I had a major identity crisis learning I wasn’t & couldn’t be a litigation paralegal anymore. That was a proud title I carried when asked what I do for a living
    Then when losing my daughter was horrifying!! I had always had a child to care for with me consistently for 23 years, then suddenly it’s gone. Sorry this is so long. Prayers to you all and I don’t hold hate towards the SS system, I just pray they can look at it from this perspective and help make it right. If I didn’t have 2 daughters & an amazing boyfriend there’s a big chance I would’ve committed suicide by now due to the overwhelming painful stress. I hear that’s happened a lot. God bless?

    • Rick

      Get a new lawyer and start over again..

    • Shelley B.

      I am so, so sorry that you are experiencing this. Please think of your beautiful daughters. I can understand how devastated you must feel. I owned two companies; a medical transription company (50 employees) and was looking to expand when a pharmasist overdosed me and I stroked. That was 14 years ago. My cogniction was checked and found to be about 50% of what it was. When medical transcription was outsourced to India, I took up my began my photography business. I was making great money, but unfortunately I had a second stroke that caused damage to my body, leaving me with tonic-clonic movements. I kept fighting and ended up taking a low paying security job. Unfortunately, I had fall issues and memory issues (sundowner syndrome). The bones in my back have grown together which does not go well with my broken pelvis (gymnastics injury). I had an attorney from day one. Some days I can think straight and under days it is hopeless. I was just recently approved for disability. The spinal damage has caused a great deal of problems. While being tested they found cancer. I was homeless living on other peoples couches for a year. It took 10 months before to get my disability, after taking me 10 years to comprehend that neither my brain or body were going to cooperate with me. The only two people I know who are receiving disability that should not be are receiving it from the VA. It is a hard fight, but it is best to have an advocate or attorney help from the beginning. I wish you all the best and I hope you are able to get care and disability. Lastly for those of you who think lazy people apply for disability, shame on you. I would give anything to be able to be a productive member, again, of the working society.

  8. tony

    My disability payments are high than unemployment benefits. I don’t mind being a lazy freeloader.

    Most people are not looking for work when they are collecting unemployment. They pretend to be looking for work every week to collect unemployment.

    They lie and say they are looking for work. The SSA is so stupid and believe the liers when they say they are too disabled to work. How can the SSA find their statements credible when they lie under penalty of perjury for unemployment.

    These lazy people find out that they can get more money on disability, so they apply for disability while collecting unemployment.

    The SSA is stupid and approved more of these lazy freeloaders for disability during the time of the recession.

    If they can be lazy and freeload off unemployment, then it is much easier for them to freeload off disability because it is more money.

    Every entitlement system has a bunch of lazy freeloaders. It is how it works.

  9. John O.

    It is unfortunate that the SS Administration feels the need to brag about all the good it is doing. Every article like this only produces stories about those who are struggling through the claims process with a few success stories sprinkled in for good measure. As such these posts are of little public benefit. It is better than reading about some minority event for less than 1% of the population though and that’s about all..

  10. Joe F.

    I have read all of these stories that has left persons that should be on SSDI, left homeless and without any type of benefit. This is a very horrible thought for me as I had a very serious neck injury due to a drunk and after attempting to find a job, I was discharged from my regular job for non productivity. That was not the case at all as the New CEO decided that I might fall at work and cost the Insurance Company another 4 million dollar cost. Fortunately for me when I finally realized that I wasn’t going to get hired anywhere. I had help filing for SSDI and was approved on the 1st attempt to be approved for it. God was definitely and has been at work inside me for a very long time. Since my severe neck injury, I had a nasty fall and broke my right lumbar in half, leaving Church. I’ve been at a rehab from the VA for the past 9 months and have only 15 workouts left. It’s very hard for me to walk, however I able to limitations
    I’ll be praying that God will intercede into the lives of those whom have not had it as easy as me. There is more than Great Power in Prayer..

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