Vail, Arizona -“Two years ago I was in a place where I really couldn’t think,” said Stacy Zygmont, a 48-year-old relative newcomer to Vail. She had moved around a lot in her life but settled down in the town 10 years ago after she met her husband.
In many respects, Mrs. Zygmont’s mind in 2009 was far from Arizona. In 2007, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a medically unexplained syndrome characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened, painful response to pressure. By itself, fibromyalgia often leads to depression. Mrs. Zygmont had to battle a double whammy because she has dealt with depression in varying degrees all her life. Fibromyalgia compounded her problem.
Fighting her ailments, she struggled to continue working. After moving to Vail, Mrs. Zygmont was a social worker for five years with Child Protective Services. Then she taught sixth-graders for two years. That was when she reached her breaking point.
“I was sick and just couldn’t get well,” she said. “I had chronic fatigue and pain. I was on my feet all day with the stress of managing 30 12-year-olds who will walk all over you if you try to rest.”
The last straw came with a death in the family in July 2009. “I was on medication, and I was all messed up,” Mrs. Zygmont said. “I had major depression and became suicidal. My doctor said I shouldn’t go back to work.”
She used both short- and long-term disability benefits from work. She also went online in August 2009 to research Arizona Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. That was where she saw an advertisement for Allsup.
Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security Disability Insurance representation and Medicare plan selection services for people with disabilities. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. Allsup has helped more than 190,000 people receive the SSDI benefits they paid for while working.
Mrs. Zygmont called Allsup, and the result, she said, “was incredible. After they accepted my case, I didn’t have to do anything. Before I called Allsup, I wanted to do the application process myself, and I went into panic attacks just thinking about it. Allsup took that away.”
Allsup’s hands-on frequent contact was especially helpful before her SSDI claim submission. Allsup representatives forewarned that her disability application would be denied as are most initial claims, but the company would continue to support her.
“The denial was devastating,” Mrs. Zygmont said, “but Allsup was reassuring.”
Comforting words notwithstanding, she steeled herself for a long, drawn-out process. It had taken one of her friends-who did not have Allsup’s help-seven years to be awarded SSDI benefits.
Mrs. Zygmont understood that the next step in the application process would be a hearing before an administrative law judge. She anxiously awaited word on the court date that she expected would be months, maybe a year away.
That was why she was surprised in August 2010-just 12 months after Allsup accepted her case-when a letter arrived from Social Security to announce her favorable award. Rather than an in-person hearing, the judge accepted an on-the-record submission of Mrs. Zygmont’s claim prepared by an Allsup representative.
“I was excited and grateful,” Mrs. Zygmont said, recalling the letter’s arrival. “The biggest thing is that, although I can’t work, at least I have an income. It’s not a lot of money, but it relieves my stress so I don’t have as many panic attacks.”
Depression and fibromyalgia will continue to afflict her, but Mrs. Zygmont has a financial foundation in place much sooner than she hoped or expected. “I wouldn’t have had that so fast,” she said, “if I hadn’t called Allsup.
“Allsup was very positive and supportive,” she added. “Everyone was knowledgeable and very calming. When I was suicidal and depressed, they made a big difference for me.”