We received a letter on Friday from Social Security regarding the amount of Ralph’s monthly disability payments. We haven’t received the official Award Letter yet, but that will probably come soon.
When we went to the Social Security office in late December, we didn’t know whether he should apply for disability or not, but we had been encouraged by hospital social workers, nurses and others to apply as soon as possible. We thought they must know something we don’t. At the office that day, the interviewer took all of our information. As we were leaving and I was helping Ralph put on his coat, he said, “Well, that’s one way to lose weight.” I looked at him and thought, it sure is a rough way to lose weight. We said “Thank you for your help.” And we left.
Those in the know around us said that it would probably take more than a year to be approved. But here it is, about three months later, and Social Security has decided under their rules, Ralph is disabled. We don’t know when the payments will start. Or if they say his disability started on the day Ralph went into the hospital or from the date he applied.
I asked Ralph about how he felt about it. He said his feelings are very mixed. On one hand, it is a relief to know that he will have some dependable income. On the other hand, it’s hard to think of yourself as disabled. To have the government agree that you are disabled.
It is likely that Ralph qualified based on his age, the type of work he did, and the multiple chronic health conditions which have been diagnosed since his bowel resection surgery in October. Last summer, I was concerned because I watched his health decline and exhaustion take over, along with unintended weight loss. He’s had many tests since then, with few answers. He is still weak, with muscle wasting, and underweight. He sleeps a lot. Yesterday, we went to three different stores to find a microwave oven. After we got home, he told me he was wiped out from so much walking. So I guess they are right. I am relieved that he doesn’t have to go back to his heavy labor job.
Ralph will have to make some adjustments in his thinking and his life. On the other hand, maybe he will recover enough to enjoy his life. And find another purpose beyond fulfilling the imperative that he support his family. He has gone to work sick, tired, injured. He had to be vomiting in order to take a day off. He suffered from a leg ulcer for two years from 2005 to 2007 and still went to work every day. From now on, things will be different.