Should I keep my disability benefits or go back to work full time?

After three years, two rejections, and over 12,000 pages of paperwork, I was approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) on January 27, 2021. I never thought I would see the process end.

Given my previous denials, I wasn’t sure how the trial phase would go. I often lay awake at night wondering if I was “sick enough” to receive disability benefits.

Single person with scleroderma

When I first applied for disability, I was married. My partner was taking care of the household bills so I wasn’t too concerned about how much I would potentially receive. We had more than enough to cover our expenses, so I could do whatever I wanted with the disability money – save it, invest it, or spend it on my son and me.

I never imagined that I would be alone again. After that, obtaining a handicap became my main goal, in addition to maintaining my health.

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Although I am now receiving benefits, trying to support myself and my child with this amount is extremely difficult.

Trying to find housing that doesn’t require my gross income to be triple the rent is nearly impossible. I can’t apply for food assistance because I earn “too much money” from my disability. (Too much? Really?)

As inflation soars, driving up the prices of food and housing, it becomes more difficult to pay the bills. We still need to eat, and my son deserves to be a child.

The disability dilemma

Recently, my mind is racing. Should I go back to full-time work? My scleroderma symptoms have subsided since I reduced my stress. My flare-ups haven’t been as bad and I feel a lot more like I used to lately. I try to take full advantage of the good days.

Yet scleroderma still lurks around the corner, reminding me that it’s there. It’s like being in a haunted house at a carnival and waiting for something to pop up.

If I return to work, I will lose my disability benefits. However, the Social Security Administration has a Ticket to Work program, which would prevent me from losing my benefits if I found out that I could not hold a full-time job.

SSDI is not a lucrative opportunity. In times of stress, I wonder if I made the right decision to stop working and apply for benefits. At first it seemed like a good choice because I had a partner to help pay our living expenses. Now that it’s just me, I’m struggling to support myself and my son with what I’m currently bringing home.

The question is, am I forgoing my disability benefits in hopes of a better financial future, or am I just sticking with it and hoping for the best? I will always have scleroderma and multiple comorbidities.

During this uncertain phase of my life, many emotions run through me. I want to give my son a better life and financial stability for my little family. I know I will have to make some tough choices, but you will never see me give up. I will do whatever I have to do for my family.

To note: Scleroderma News is strictly a disease news and information site. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosticWhere processing. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosticWhere processing. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of anything you read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about scleroderma issues.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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