Disability 101: The Application | SummitDaily.com

Disability 101: The Application

special to the daily
Summit County, CO Colorado

In my last column, we met “Glenda,” one of my readers and a new applicant for Social Security disability. Glenda is unable to work, currently has no income, and is destitute. Yet she will probably have to wait up to two years to receive benefits.

When she does, she will receive only $637 a month.

Glenda has applied for many government and social programs. Unfortunately, she has faced a dizzying and difficult process in applying for these programs.

As a result of her multiple sclerosis, Glenda has numerous cognitive problems.

Although a bright woman with a college degree, she now has difficulty with memory, organization, making decisions and prioritizing. She has periods of “brain fog,” during which it is hard for her to concentrate. So Glenda has trouble managing the application steps on her own.

However, Glenda is not disabled enough to receive much help. If Glenda needed help with personal needs such as feeding herself, showering or toileting, help with the application procedures would be given immediately.

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Since Glenda is capable of feeding herself, and toileting and showering on her own, it is assumed that she can handle the applications herself. But she can’t and is falling through the cracks.

The application processes for Social Security disability, other government programs and community programs are lengthy and complicated, and Glenda can’t keep up with it. Let’s look at a couple examples.

Glenda has no health insurance, and Medicare has a 24-month waiting period. She was advised to apply for a long term care program through the state.

If she qualifies for this program, she can receive Medicaid, and she can get help in her home, which she desperately needs.

She obtained help filling out the lengthy application and sent it in. She was then sent a new, slightly different, also lengthy, form to fill out. She received help completing that and sent it in. Next a nurse came to visit her in her home. Finally, she was sent a third, lengthy form. More help for that.

Three months later, she still has no idea what the status of her application is, whether there will be more forms, and when she finally might receive Medicaid and help in her home.

A similar thing happened trying to apply for subsidized housing. The standard Section 8 subsidized housing in Glenda’s Colorado community has a waiting list and is not taking any more names. However, she had the opportunity to apply for a different subsidized apartment.

While trying to get help to fill out the third form for this apartment community, Glenda received a letter in the mail saying her application had been denied because she took too long to fill out the form.

Glenda has been receiving help with the forms from the independent-living center in her community. This is the organization meant to help in these circumstances.

However, she was only receiving one hour of help per week ” not nearly enough.

She complained and is now receiving two hours of help per week ” still not nearly enough.

Well-meaning friends and community members give her names and phone numbers to call. She can’t keep up with it. She forgets what she is supposed to be doing for each one. She loses the phone numbers. She loses the forms.

The last thing she needs is another well-meaning person to suggest another place to call. What she really needs is someone who will keep track of it all, make the phone calls for her, and help her fill out the forms.

Who will do that?