Last week I received a notice stating that I “meet the medical requirements for disability payments.” Wow. Knock me over with a feather (which is not hard to do, actually). But the next paragraph says “We have not yet made a decision about whether you meet the nonmedical requirements, but we will make that decision soon.” OK. So what are the nonmedical requirements?? From what I’ve been able to gather, it’s simply verifying my date of birth, my work history, SS contributions and marital status. That can’t be too difficult.
So we are just a bit short of celebrating – I can’t imagine the nonmedical requirements are a problem, but until that final letter is in my hands, I’ll hold off on the confetti and sparkling cider.
And then there is this: It is a validation of disability, which is a double-edged sword. It is good that physicians and government investigators agree that my physical difficulties are debilitating enough to deem me officially disabled: I get the stamp of approval. And now I come to terms emotionally with the fact that I’m declared officially disabled. It’s not that I didn’t know that, but now the government acknowledges it and will likely compensate me for it. What do I do with that? What emotional compartment does that fit into?
When I was going through cancer treatments, I read something about the terminology we use that can empower or defeat us. I tried never to use the term “my cancer,” since I was treating the tumor as an intruder in my body. It was important to me to not define myself by the cancer. Now I’m trying to figure out the terminology for disability. Am I a disabled person or a person with disabilities? The latter feels more appropriate to me. To say “I am disabled” defines me only in those terms. “I have disabilities” says that’s only part of the person I am.
These are big, ongoing issues I will be grappling with for a long time. I'd love to hear your feedback. Meantime, keep the cider chilled - I'll let you know when to uncork it.