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5 Things No One Told Me When I Applied for Disability Benefits

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Before we start, I’m an Australian writing from the Australian point of view, though I’m sure there are similarities in other countries. Here are five things nobody ever told me before I applied for disability benefits.

1. The system is rough. I got refused once before I appealed and eventually was approved after seven months. But I’ve seen people wait years with multiple appeals. It’s rough. The only good thing about this is that you get back pay once you’re approved.

2. You need to gather as much evidence as you possibly can. Hospital records, any other medical records. Letters from doctors, case workers, and specialists like psychiatrists. Get as much as you can. I gave them so much stuff that had they refused me again, I don’t know what I would have been able to give them. Maybe another letter from my doctor.

3. Keep fighting. I was told by a lot of people that I would probably never get it because of my age. I’m 27. Apparently they don’t like granting it to young people. Well I kept fighting and I did it, I proved them wrong. I’m good at that actually, proving people wrong.

4. Be patient; expect a lot of waiting. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it. I waited three months for my rejection and then waited four more months for my approval. I got the local member for parliament involved to see if they could speed things up a little. Obviously I’m not patient, it’s a virtue I lack. But sometimes all you can do is wait and there’s nothing you can do about it.

5. Now this is the most important one of all… you don’t need to be ashamed. You shouldn’t be ashamed, ever. You were will be awarded disability because you genuinely need it. And if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, then shame on them, not you.

Applying for disability can be a rough ride, but when it’s all over, once it’s all approved, there’s a weight that lifts off your shoulders. It’s totally worth it.

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Originally published: April 4, 2017
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