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A man sits at a desk filling out disability forms on his laptop. His body is translucent and the handicap symbol is emblazoned on his back in a dotted line.

Doubtfully Applying for Disability Benefits

After years of contemplating this decision, I finally broke down and decided to give a try at applying for disability. Even though this is something that could really help me long-term, I’m still not really sure how to feel about it. I’m a 32-year-old man with a debilitating condition that I am still sometimes in disbelief of what it has put me through thus far. After nine years of suffering, I sometimes still have a hard time accepting that I have limitations that make it hard for me to properly provide for my family and sustain a manageable income. To be completely transparent, I am struggling financially because I can no longer work full-time with how severe my condition is and how often it disrupts my productivity. I also recently had a newborn son, and with the money I am currently making by working from home, it’s just not sufficient enough to supplement my wife’s half of the income. Therefore, I feel I need supplemental disability so that I can continue to do my best to provide for my family. (By the way, I’m not asking for pity, just understanding. I also hope this article can shed some light to others with IBS thinking of applying for disability)

Getting disability benefits with IBS is not easy

Unfortunately, applying for disability with an invisible illness is extremely difficult. For one, you have to prove that your illness has kept you from working a regular job. However, in order to be eligible for social security benefits, you need to have a work history long enough to pay into your social security fund. To me, this seems very unethical and impractical. Before I became self-employed, I had gone through several different jobs over the years because I was unable to maintain most of them due to my IBS. I’m not joking, my resume is about three pages long listing job after job that lasted around three to six months at a time. At each job, I would either be fired, forced to resign, or I’d become so ill that I’d have to go on medical leave (short-term disability). I always told myself that I wouldn’t give up on trying to find my way in the work field, despite the struggles I faced with my illness. However, over time, I came to the conclusion that most jobs (especially labor-intensive ones) are just not conducive to my health. Not every workplace can provide proper accommodations for someone like me with my illness. Also, many full-time, office jobs just bring about a lot of stress and anxiety, which exasperates my symptoms to the point where I find myself constantly in and out of the restroom. I share this example to show that it’s not easy for people with chronic illnesses to work long enough to become eligible for social security benefits. So how can we possibly get the help that we so desperately need?

Must be on medication and under care to get disability benefits

Another reason why I am doubtful about my ability to gain supplemental income is due to the fact that I’m currently not on medication. I recently spoke with a disability lawyer, and he told me that it would help my case if I’d continued seeking medical attention and have been on (and am currently on) medication for an extended period. If you’ve read my previous articles, you’d know that I’ve been to several doctors and tried several medications, all of which didn’t help or made my symptoms worse, so I stopped taking them. Even with my extensive medical history, since it’s been years since I last took prescribed medication, it will hurt my chances of being approved for disability.

There is still hope

With all of that being said, I do highly doubt that I will get disability benefits because the likelihood hasn’t been in favor of those with IBS. It has happened in some rare cases, so there is a sliver of hope for me and others that truly need financial assistance. However, the process is going to take some time. The first step for me is going to see a doctor and getting back on medication, again, which I’m not looking forward to. If by some miracle I do get disability down the line, then I will use this chance to better my circumstances by learning new skills that can essentially help me find conducive job opportunities in the future that I can do from home. The plan is to build my career from the ground up so that I eventually no longer have to depend on supplemental security income. Until I can create or find a job that can help sustain my living expenses, then I feel I have to suck up my pride and get all the help I can get, even if that means applying for disability.

I will keep you all updated on my journey of trying to achieve disability benefits and let you guys know how far I get. Thank you for reading and sending positive vibes to all who need it!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • @Roxzilla_
    4 months ago

    Hey Hess thanks for posting this! I applied two years ago and got denied the first time like my lawyer told me they would. They agreed I had all the symptoms I have. Their reason for denying me was that “I can adjust.” I kid you not, there exact words! I am now waiting on a in person hearing date. They will try and get you to do a video hearing, but that’s a bad idea. I will probably have to wait another year minimum for a hearing. I am not super hopeful of winning my case either, but I know my chances are better with a lawyer. They look at IBS like it’s a joke but like you said, some people do get approved. I lost my last job due to this illness as well along with other health issues. Like you said, it keeps you from working a regular job. I am trying so hard to find a work from home job where I don’t have to be on a schedule because as you know, problems happens whenever they want 🙁 I was going to the doctor almost every month for two years trying to get cured. Now I only go every 3-5 months because they never give me any new information smh. I’m your friend on Instagram Roxzilla_ if you wanna ask me any more questions about my process so far and things my lawyer said to include when applying. Good luck!

  • HessP moderator author
    4 months ago

    Hey @heatherparis! I’m glad you can relate to my experience. I’m also sorry that you’re going through the exact process that I’m afraid of dealing with. I sure hope you win your case especially because they’re putting you though so much hassle. And I can definitely understand the struggles of losing a job due to this syndrome, and also not getting much help from doctors. Its not easy finding people who can truly relate, so your support and encouragement means more than you know. I recognize your name by now because you’ve been an awesome supporter on most social media platforms that I use for a while now, which I truly love and appreciate! =) I will def reach out when I have any questions in regards to your process. Good luck to you as well and thanks again for the support! Best, Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team member

  • @Roxzilla_
    4 months ago

    Thanks for your support as well! It helps to have other’s that understand to talk to for sure 🙂

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