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Woman with spinal condition struggles for SSDI

The number of Americans receiving disability benefits has increased in the past five years. Some with disabilities, however, are still waiting. Most applications for Social Security Disability Insurance are denied, and many are denied three times before they get an appeals hearing with a judge.

One woman, who seems like a perfect candidate for SSDI, has been denied and told by agencies that there's nothing they can do. The former home health care worker suffers from degenerative disc disease, a disease that is not always considered a disease. According to one spinal surgeon, disc degeneration is a natural part of aging and only a disease when it becomes painful.

The woman's condition was exacerbated by a fall during the course of her work, and she eventually had to stop working. She was covered by workers' compensation for awhile, but she had no money to pay for medical care once those benefits ran out.

She appealed for Medicaid but was denied because she had worked in the past year. She also does not qualify for state health programs because she receives child support payments from an ex-husband. That child support also makes her unable to receive Supplemental Security Income, a program that would automatically qualify her for Medicaid.

While there are free and low-cost clinic options available, the waits are long and painful, and the treatments are most often inadequate. Even if the woman could get Medicaid, about two-thirds of the spinal specialists in the state refuse to deal with Medicaid.

The woman has had bad luck so far, but she has not given up hope. She plans on filing for benefits again and finding a lawyer who, she hopes, can help her finally get the financial and medical aid she needs.

Source: Indiana Daily Student, "Disease makes resident ineligible for state support," Jaclyn Lansbery, Jan. 20, 2012

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