The pollen count today is 8.1 and I am miserable. We are about a week or so into the Fall 2018 pollen season now. It has a cumulative effect, and there is absolutely no way to know how long this pollen season will last.

There are times when I think that maybe I’ll be able to work and make enough money to not need to try and get on Social Security Disability. And then, nature tries to kill me, and makes the rest of my chronic illnesses worse. I am struggling.

The problem is… my freelance writing work might actually make it even more difficult for me to get approved for Disability. Again.

I’ve already gone through the entire process involved with trying to get on Disability. I got denied, and denied, and denied. The judge found the tiniest little reasons to deny my claim.

She “didn’t see” the paperwork from my rheumatologist where he diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. She decided the information from my acupuncturist didn’t count because it “wasn’t on letterhead”.

I also got denied because I was able to work as a freelance writer.  It didn’t seem to matter that I don’t make anywhere near enough money to live on.

Anyway… I started the process of trying to get on Disability – for the second time. I have absolutely no faith at all that I will get what I need, qualify for, and deserve. My previous experience has made me entirely pessimistic about the process. The plan this time is to do this process with a lawyer’s advice. But, even that is no guarantee.

This brings me to my problem. Freelance writers are contract workers. The amount of work I have each month fluctuates. Sometimes, my clients want  a lot of work from me. Other times, they cut back on the amount of work they want. There’s no way to be certain how much I will make in a given month.

There are times when I can do some work, and then pollen season hits, and I literally cannot do as much work as I had been doing. There are days (and sometimes weeks) when my other autoimmune diseases flare up, cause a lot of pain, and make it harder for me to write. I’ve tried so many things to get around my health issues, but haven’t found a solution.

Without going into specific details, a current change in my freelance writing involves a contract that has an end date. The client can end things at that time, or make a new contract. It’s a great gig, and I’m happy to have it.

The problem is, this new gig, along with my other freelance gigs, could put me just a tiny bit over the amount of money a person is allowed to earn while receiving Disability benefits. I’m absolutely terrified that if I file an online claim now, a Disability judge could use this work opportunity as a reason to deny my claim.

There are no good options here. I wish the United States had Universal Basic Income. That would solve my problem.

My husband asked our lawyer what to do about this situation. In short, the lawyer said that going a little over the income amount for a short time is not necessarily a disqualification. The lawyer said it could be seen by a Disability judge as “an unsuccessful attempt to work” (because I was unable to sustain it).

The lawyer also said that, when I file a new claim, the date of it begins the day after my last denial. Good to know. This means that if I get approved – there’s gonna be some backpay involved, and my helpful lawyers can get paid from that.


Tiny Little Things is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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