Dear Your Honor,
The last time I wrote to you it was to state my husband’s history of chronic disability and illness. You (and the entire system) has yet again denied his plea for disability. I read your 16+ page statement as to why his disability claim was not approved (again) and really wish I could send this letter to you to help clarify.
While I understand that there are many people cheating the system, it has now become so difficult that the system isn’t doing what it was designed to do. It is has become so exhausting that the people who are truly ill are unable to keep fighting. This means that many who don’t need disability are getting it, while those who need it badly are literally wasting away in bed.
Let me clarify a few things that you brought up in your denial justification:
Yes, my husband did go on a cruise in 2008. It was a family reunion, paid for by my family. He had tanks of oxygen delivered to the ship to help him deal with his cluster headaches. He rarely left the cabin beyond meals. Really, it wasn’t much of a “vacation” for him.
Yes, he is extremely well educated. He does not need a job that involves manual labor. He has an Ivy League degree in Bio-Physics. This should, all the more, prove how desperate he is if he is applying for a small disability claim compared to what his education is actually worth.
I have heard that the courts feel that there are always accommodations that can be made for those who have difficulty sitting. After hurting his back more than a decade ago, he worked for six months while lying on the ground. He is willing to lie on the ground for a job. What he cannot do, however, is anything that requires more than 5 cells of brain power for more than a few minutes. It is quite difficult to have any kind of income when this is your current condition.
Rumor also has it that the courts feels that pain is “subjective” and therefore not grounds for disability. And while I can certainly understand that people trying to cheat the system could easily claim that they are in “too much pain” to work, my husband has a long history documented in his medical and tax records that he has been in too much pain to work.
If Professor X had the genius level intellect that he once possessed, he could easily have argued his way through to a positive outcome during his court hearing. The problem, however, is that he no longer has this ability. He has been so drugged up on pain, depression, and prescription medication that he can no longer think clearly.
This brings me to something that was never addressed in the medical records or my previous letter to you: Professor X’s upstanding moral character. He has done everything “right”. He went straight from high school to one of the best universities in the nation. He volunteered with a Christian organization for his first year out of college. He married his college sweetheart. When he was unable to have biological children, he adopted two children and is the most amazing father possible to them. He has never drunk a glass/shot/bottle of alcohol in his life. He has never smoked a legal or illegal substance. He has never taken any drug that was not prescribed to him (although I could strongly argue that some of the “illegal drugs” would have a lot less side effects than the pills the doctors have him on right now).
Until your denial, he felt that there must be some “misunderstanding”. Now, after three denials and a 16 page explanation, he feels that the entire system that was supposed to help people like him does not believe him. The small amount of hope that he once had has been completely crushed.
I wish you could spend one week with him. See how he spends most of his days like this:
I wish you could hear him cry himself to sleep at night because of the hopelessness of the pain and the deep depression.
Professor X just celebrated a birthday. He is still not yet 40 years old and yet his quality of life is far worse than many 70-80 year-olds that I know.
The lawyer has told Professor X that if he wants to appeal your decision (and in all truth, how can Professor X possibly gather the energy to appeal!), it will be at least 18 months before he even knows if the appeal will be heard (by the same judge no less!). The lawyer has implied that she may drop him as a client because she is not making any money off of his case.
In the mean time he keeps crying. And we cry with him.