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Battling Cancer and Social Security

BY Tammy Summers
PUBLISHED March 19, 2020
In February of 2014, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. At the age of 45, cancer had spread through my body into my lymph nodes, liver and both hip bones. My prognosis was only a 27% chance to live 5 years. I had a young son, so decided to fight by keeping normalcy in his world. I chose to throw on my wig and continue working at my stressful 40-hour a week administrative job. My treatment regimen included surgery, biopsies, scans every 4 months and intravenous chemotherapy every 3 weeks for the rest of my life — or until my body can no longer tolerate it.

Praise God, I am blessed to have been in remission since July of 2014! I exceeded the 5 year prognosis but have to be realistic knowing that living 10 years is even less than a 27% chance. Unfortunately, I am forced to spend over a year of my time left in this world fighting Social Security! I have had over 80 rounds of chemo in less than 6 years.

My 1st attempt for Social Security benefits was filed in June of 2019. I was turned down in August of 2019. I retained an attorney and appealed the decision. 7 months later in January of 2020, I had a hearing and was notified in February of 2020 that I lost my appeal. At the recommendation of my attorney, I am appealing again because I cannot work due to daily exhaustion. The medical statements and records were provided.  My attorney told me to expect a 12 month or longer wait for this appeal. My husband and I are afraid to go so long with missed income, in fear of having to file bankruptcy. I cannot even apply for unemployment. The attorney did say we could request to have my case rushed, only if hospice is called in for me.

There has to be a better way to screen out those trying to abuse our system. I would much rather work than have to request Social Security benefits, however God sometimes has different plans for us. How can Americans battling disease and serious health issues be forced to stress over bills in a country as grand as ours? I urge you to seek for guideline reviews of the Social Security system and be an advocate for change.

If I wasn't married, I would've lost my health insurance, wouldn't be able to pay mortgage, electric bills or even buy food. Even being married, we had to sell my car and we cannot share quality family time together if it costs money due to our depleted budget. We were a 2-income household and now my husband had to get a 2nd job just to help cover our normal bills. 

There are many Americans suffering through these issues who are worse off than me. I choose to be their voice.

I had no idea how bad the Social Security system was until I needed it. I have been working over 35 years, sometimes 2 jobs simultaneously contributing to Social Security the entire time. The attorney said if I had just filed in 2014 when first diagnosed, it probably would've been approved. It is crazy that I am being penalized for trying and fight through the sickness to continue working. 

Most Americans who haven't experienced health issues preventing employment may not realize these problems exist. I ask for you to please consider assisting, being another voice and advocating change in our system that is desperately needed by those who have acquired disease and infirmity. 
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