I came home from ROOTS Week 2018 to a lot of unpleasantness. I’d been having some struggle getting my food stamps recertified before I left. The information I sent in got ‘lost in the mail’ so I haven’t gotten my food stamps benefits for this month. No food. This happens a lot. I’m glad I scan stuff before I mail it, so I could call, get an email address, and send in my scanned copy. Unfortunately I usually have to call my caseworker several times a day for a week to reach her and get things moving.
I also got a denial for the SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits I applied for since I’m now so low on the money I’m living off of I qualify. I was denied largely on the decision of the biased judge who ruled on my SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) hearing two years ago after ROOTS Week that sent me into a deep dark hole. I was denied my recent Medicaid application as well based on the denial of SSI which was based on that judge’s asshaberdashery. I really hate Joseph Brinkley, especially that his one-time decision continues to hold ultimate power over what I need to survive. But read on, there’s news about that…
I have to use that Medicaid denial letter to try to get back into a program that will pay for my monthly meds and will probably need lots of phone calls or even a fresh reapplication for medication assistance. This is doubly hard since the entire med management staff at the place where I get treatment left at the end of June and their stopgap measures are contracting outside providers to meet with clients via FaceTime, all of whom are bewildered by the complexities of my situation, and the fact that the only medication that works for me isn’t typically prescribed for what I have.
I emailed my disability lawyer begging him to help me write the SSI appeal. He called me immediately. Yes, they will write my appeal. He also told me that he argued my case before a federal judge and won: the judge ruled that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at my SSDI hearing two years ago fucked up royally. (Yay validation!)
What this means is that the case will be sent back down for another hearing with specific guidelines mandated by the federal judge over what the hearing ALJ is not allowed to do. We’ll apply for Dire Need to try to get my case fast-tracked to a hearing date. If the ALJ who hears the case makes those mistakes again to deny my claim, the federal judge will overrule and award me benefits.
My fears are: (1) all this will take more time than I have left to survive on the money I have, (2) I will be denied using different grounds and have to go again to a federal judge, or (3) the case will fail entirely and we’ll have to start over with a new claim. It took more than six months to get through the first two appeals after my initial application, a year and a half to get the hearing date, and then two more years to get the federal court date. I’ll know more after I meet with my lawyer next Wednesday.
In the meantime all my stress is focused on relentlessly calling to get my day-to-day needs of food and medication met. I’m so grateful to my disability lawyer Michael Bertics to know what to do and handle the bigger picture stuff while I flip out and obsess over and fight for food and meds.
To me the timing of all this highlights a keen ongoing need to address classism and economic justice with Alternate ROOTS. I will contribute when and as I’m able with the document Wendy Shenefelt created for us during the spontaneous conversation we had at Mission after the closing UpROOTing Oppression session. The crappy thing about being poor and disabled is that survival sucks up all the time and energy I need to even talk about what’s happening.
Thank you to everyone at ROOTS Week for creating and holding space for that conversation to start. I was able to use the energy I reserve every year for the meeting to actually speak from a place of feeling safe and held and having my basic needs met.