Like many hardworking, tax paying individuals, I gladly paid into the Social Security system, but never expected that I’d have to use it for disability. Since both my doctors will not release me to go back to work, it may be awhile before I’m earning a regular income again. It’s frustrating, hurtful, and sometimes demeaning, but it happens. I knew that people who live on Social Security Disability Insurance struggle a bit. The point of the program was never to make anyone rich, but I never believed how insane the system actually is.
Last year I received a notice that as of January 1st 2014 I would receive a 1.5 percent increase in my Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). I know it may not sound like much (and it’s not), but when you live on SSDI every penny counts.
Not long after the letter from Social Security I received a letter from Medicare advising me that there have been some changes made to my plan covering some of the costs for medications. I’m also on Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program), which had been covering the extra costs for my medications. Due to the increase in my SSDI, Medi-Cal determined that I earn too much money from Social Security and therefore they are no longer covering the excess costs for my medications.
What does this mean in dollars and cents? Well, the massive 1.5 pct increase in Social Security adds up to about an extra $30 bucks each month. Since the loss of Medi-Cal, my copay on my most important medication is now over $500/month. To make matters go from bad to worse, the county clinic, where I see my psychiatrist, has advised that I will now be billed for those visits, as well, due to my increase in Social Security. I have not been told what that cost would be, but I will find out once I receive my first bill. That extra $30/month from SSDI sure packed a major wallop.
Where does this leave me? Well, after speaking with my psychiatrist about this new turn of events, he said he’s going to do some research to see if there’s a work-around that may help to resolve the situation; He admitted he didn’t have much hope that there’s anything that can be done.
Another major repercussion to all of this is it took over 3 years to find the correct mix of medications that finally have helped to keep me stable. Since I no longer can afford one of my primary meds, we may now be starting from scratch to find the correct medications to replace it. This effort could take a few months to resolve, could take another 3 years to resolve, or possibly even longer. Back to the old drawing board.
There’s still one more thing I must add and it concerns my physical well-being. I posted recently that I currently am suffering from a severe case of radiculitis, which means that swollen discs in my neck are crushing nerve roots which causes severe pain in my right arm and hand. It’s so severe it wakes me up about five times a night, sometimes to the point that I’m nearly screaming in pain. I can’t see a neurologist until March so I am currently on 3 different forms of pain medication…and…you guessed it, I can’t afford them all. I was able to pick up 2 of the meds, but the 3rd (highly successful) one I cannot afford. I had tell the pharmacy on Saturday to cancel that order.
So there you have it. I wish I could tell SSDI to keep their damn $30 pay increase, but, somehow I don’t think the system works that way. I’m frustrated, sad, angry and more than a little scared. These truly are life changing events. I only wish it was for the better.