Disability Grant To Help Lupus Disabled Allison With Multiple Expenses
by Allison Scott
(Mount Holly, NC, USA)
My name is Allison and I am the third girl in a Southern family of four uniquely different children and two wonderful parents.
My father attended The U.S. Naval Academy during the era of being nominated for admission by a prominent statesman, rather than the practice today of simply applying.
His training at Annapolis shaped his role as husband and father, which had a positive influence on our family life.
When I was born, my father was stricken with a severe case of polio. He was hospitalized for nearly a year and half of that time was in an Iron Lung machine.
I am 60 years old now and still have vivid memories of his release from the hospital and returning home with metal braces.
These were fascinating to a tenacious two year old, who spent endless hours crawling along the back of the sofa trying to find a way to his lap without being whisked away by a watchful mother.
As I became college age, I chose nursing as my career due to the strong influence my father's illness had on me. I married briefly and never had children. I was devoted to my patients and cared for them with all my heart.
I worked as a RN for thirty years mainly in the psychiatric department. In 1988, I suddenly became ill and was out of work for six weeks.
My symptoms would change from having a fine rash on my lower extremities, to barely being able to get out of bed because of stiffness and an inability to bend my joints.
My roommate had to dress me when I had a doctor's appointment. My feet were so swollen, I had no shoes to wear, but got by with heavy socks. It was January in New York City and very cold.
I saw multiple doctors who drew multiple labs and ordered countless tests, but they could not diagnose the strange symptoms. Slowly I improved and returned to work without any restrictions.
In 2005, the symptoms returned and I was diagnosed with Lupus. I was riddled with migrating joint pain, overwhelming fatigue and deepening depression.
As time passed, the symptoms worsened and I was uncomfortable most of the time, but never spoke of it and tried not to think about it. I was convinced dwelling on it would make everything worse and so I did what I had seen my father do… I moved on.
In 2007, I bought my first home and was thrilled with fixing it up. However, one day I bent down to pick up some sticks in the yard and could barely stand up. My back felt like it had been beaten with a baseball bat.
The pain was constant and severe. I walked with a pronounced limp. In 2010, I lost my job and learned that I had Severe Lumbar Stenosis. I was devastated.Financial Hardship
My biggest immediate concern was losing my home. There was not anyone else to pay the high mortgage except for me and I had little knowledge about handling a homeowner hardship.
My insurance benefits were immediately cut off and I was in need of refills for all my medications. I had to do without them as I began the fight of survival that, frankly, was quite against the odds.
I begged for two months for Cobra benefits, but was ignored.
I applied for unemployment, which was contested by my former employer who delayed the hearing as long as possible.
I emptied my bank accounts of every penny, liquidated all my stocks, 401K plan, and pension scrambling to stay current with my mortgage and bills.
I sold all my inherited family jewelry and silver trying to keep my head above water, but it was not going well.
I lost my yardman because of tardiness in paying his bill.
I was quickly losing my grip at the sudden, unexpected and unjust devastation of my little world. I cried all the time, stayed in bed unable to face another day of begging.
I was told to get a lawyer immediately, which cost me $10,000 up front.
I had been seeing a psychiatrist for depression, anxiety and Adult ADD. He kept a very close eye on me despite the fact I could not pay him.
The sudden loss of my financial stability was painful, but the loss of my beloved nursing career was the seventh sword piercing my heart.
My quiet, stable lifestyle was ripped from me and I was desperate to get on the other side of the madness that accompanies poverty.
I began the tortuous process of applying for SSD, which crowned this unexpected nightmare as my new reality. I was not prepared.Income Efforts
I called every charity and public assistance organizations pleading for money for food, medicine and my mortgage.
Unemployment was cut off in less than a year and I was without any income for six months.
Fortunately, I had come across the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency and was encouraged to apply for the Foreclosure Prevention Fund.
This agency and the people who run the program were a ray of light I desperately needed to see. The application process was lengthy and required complete concentration to gather all the required documents, which was a huge challenge for me.
I had my disability hearing, which, unfortunately, was a wretched experience. The hearing judge denied my $30,000 back pay, which would have pulled me out of the financial hole I had fallen into.
I soon received the date of foreclosure and sale of my home. A week before the sale date, I was accepted into the NCHFA program. I was elated, but despite the stay of foreclosure placed on my property, my mortgage company sold my home anyway.
I was so stunned that I forgot about my sorrow and with all the fury of a woman scorned called the lawyers representing the mortgage company and, to my surprise, were just as furious and worked quickly to dismiss the sale.
NCHFA paid all back penalties and missed payments totaling a whopping $36,000. I also was granted a loan modification that cut my payments in half. I was also granted property tax relief from the state because of my disability.
What a great day it was after all.Specific Needs
Despite my good fortune with securing my home, my health had deteriorated rapidly.
I have over $200,000 in medical expenses that included major back surgery, a fractured heel and a fractured left wrist, which required surgery.
My sister came to live with me because of my health and chronic unsteadiness. My SSD must cover her expenses now and we're barely making ends meet.
My home needs lots of repairs and appliance replacements. My heating went out and we went through a chilly winter.
I also have dire need for some dental work, which will cost approximately $6,000.
I still have that medical debt, which I am hoping I can find funding for and avoid bankruptcy.
I am also trying to get assistance for my sister who has needed funding for quite a while, but it is like dragging the mule up the hill to get her to fill out an application.Business Idea
I had been thinking of returning to nursing, but from my home. It involves telephone triage nursing where you answer calls for a group of doctors, screening those who actually need to see the doctor immediately from those who need health advice or a prescription refill.
My health remains an obstacle, however, and very unpredictable. I would work part time, but with my continued back problems coupled with Lupus it just might be best for me to really retire and recover.