Getting off of SSD Social Security When You Have Mental Illness

I remember the appointment with my therapist at the time.  I met with him to discuss the paperwork that Social Security had sent me.  He needed to fill out the evaluation so that the Social Security Disability department could determine if I was still disabled and therefore eligible for ongoing benefits.

I had been on it for years, and though the monthly amount was ridiculously low in terms of being able to have a quality of life, I was very thankful that I could count on that check every month. Being that I was eligible for SSD, I was also eligible to elect private healthy insurance, in addition to Medicare, at no cost to me.  This meant I got excellent care for my mental health issues (and, from time to time, physical health), and my prescriptions and hospital inpatient visits were covered.

I had been on the program for years but had recently really tried to pull things together and work.  Though I had difficulty staying at the same job, I was getting consistently better at finding jobs and at least working at them for a couple of months.  I had to report all of my income and work attempts to Social Security, and I had evaluation requests for my doctor to fill out from time time to time.

I was kind of scared. At least Social Security was a “sure” thing – money that I could count on.  I was afraid that if I got well and improved….if I were able to keep a job…”what if” I later relapsed?  The Social Security income would be gone, and I’d have nothing. I could end up on the streets. The thought terrified me.  But, eventually, what terrified me more was the thought that in my 20s, I wasn’t willing to try to improve. It terrified me that I could, out of fear, depend on the systems indefinitely and avoid getting well in order to have the peace of mind of having a government check.

I became determined to prove to myself that I can take care of myself.  I also trusted that, God forbid I should relapse to the point of not being able to work, I could reapply and have the support of my doctors.

At the point where this evaluation came up, I hadn’t been hospitalized inpatient for psychiatric reasons for at least a year.  My pattern from age 18 was that I was in and out of psychiatric units several times a year. So, this, in and of itself, was a huge improvement.

I hadn’t even been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder yet at this point in my life.  My diagnoses were Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and episode of Major Depression.  But, I was doing well!

I’ll never forget how things unfolded.  I had mentioned to my therapist that I would be getting the papers for Social Security soon, and he said that we would discuss them when they came in.  I knew in my heart what I needed to do.  I knew I was getting well and that I could continue to do so, and after we discussed it and I assured him that I was clear that Social Security would end up discontinuing my benefits, that is exactly what my doctor wrote on my forms in the prognosis section: “Ms. ****** is doing very well, and there is no reason to believe Ms. ****** will not continue to improve.” I felt so proud of myself when I made this choice and then submitted the paperwork to Social Security. I felt very “adult” and responsible.  My choice gave me hope in my ability and potential to continue to heal.

It’s been several years since I have been off of Social Security.  There have been moments where I’ve deeply considered reapplying (due to repeated attempts at jobs that ended due to my own self-sabotaging BPD-behavior), but since being diagnosed with BPD and enrolling in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) classes, I have managed to keep myself together enough to hold down a part-time job and work on my writing.  I have been on the temporary state disability for a few weeks a couple of times over the years (while in partial hospitalization/intensive outpatient treatment for relapses), but then I got back on my feet again.

I live with another person, and we share most of the expenses, so this helps.  I have health insurance at the moment, so all of the things that were covered in the past are covered now.

I trusted, and it worked out.

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

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