When You Can't Work But Don't Have Enough Work Credits

  On top of dealing with AS, Fibro, Neuropathy, Osteoarthritis, and Scoliosis, I am very stressed about money.

  My family is struggling financially. In December 2016, I had to make the hard decision that it was time to give up my job. The fatigue and pain from my diseases and working was overwhelming. I would come home from work and go straight to bed. Some days, I would get up about 8pm and make myself a bowl of cereal or a sandwich. My mother lives beside me, she would cook healthy meals for my teenage son. Many days she would save me a plate, which was a blessing. Toward the fall of 2016, my mom realized how horrible my struggle had become and cooked every day for us.

  My husband works second shift, 3pm - 11:30pm. By the time my husband drives home from work, it's 12:30am. Therefore, he only saw me in the morning for a half hour or so before I left for work. It was a rough schedule, not being able to see each other. We made it work for 3 years but I don't think it would've worked earlier in our marriage. We've currently been married 28 years. Due to my husband not seeing me very much, he didn't realize how much my illness was affecting me. I think during his Christmas vacation was when it finally hit him. I wasn't getting better, even though I was taking weekly Humira injections and a handful of medicines daily. He became very worried.

  After leaving my job in December 2016, my husband and mother encouraged me to apply for Social Security Disability. I kept postponing applying, because my rhuematologist was changing me to Enbrel injections. I still had hope that the Enbrel would calm my disease down enough to return to work. Unforunately, I never saw any benefit from the Enbrel. My pain, fatigue, and other symptoms seemed to worsen if anything. Finally in August, after getting my lab reports which showed my inflammation levels were still very high, I applied for SSDI.

  In the meantime of waiting to hear from my disability application, I gathered my medical records from my doctors. I cried while looking through my records. I remembered each horrible flare; I remembered the visits before my diagnosis.

  In a few weeks I received a letter from Social Security Office, I had been denied due to not having enough work credits in the last 10 years. I am shocked because the reason I don't have the work credits is my disability and my love of my family. I had stayed home to care for my father, who suffered 6 years with lung cancer. After that my mother in law became very ill, so I took care of her until her death. I started a "job" after my mother in law passed away and held it until my illness forced me to quit. If I didn't have this disability, I would still be employed and earning more work credits. Somehow it just doesn't seem right to me. That's how I have ended up in my current financial situation.

  To add to the irony, I can't qualify for SSI either because of my love of my family. My mother and father in law are in their 80's. Each of them rely on me to write checks, since they are widowed. They both added my name to their checking account so I can sign their checks for their monthly bills. However, in the eyes of SSI those checking accounts are my resources. I would never use their money for my own personal benefit. SSI doesn't acknowledge that fact.  It's a saddening situation.

  I never will regret my time caring for my dad or my mother in law. I cherish being there to comfort them. I hope someone will love me enough to extent the same to me someday. Yes, we are struggling to keep our heads above water right now. My comfort is I love my family and know somehow, someway, it'll all work out.

  Best wishes for each of you fighting an illness today. Keep your head up or the crown falls Princess.