Greenville, South Carolina – Crystal Kelly thought she’d still be working and in a relationship with her boyfriend, who had recently retired from the Navy.
Her work as a financial analyst for a major regional bank ended in June 2009, but she started losing a grip on the job before then, when the headaches appeared and grew progressively worse.
“My headaches started in 2004,” said Ms. Kelly, 41, who suffers from severe migraines. In the past, she endured epileptic episodes that are controlled now by medication. “I was going to a neurologist, and he just kept giving me more and more medication, to the point where I was over-medicated. I began blacking out at work and was sometimes unable to function.”
Her employer expressed concern, but after so much lost time, they let her go. “They told me they hoped I’d get better and when I could work again, to let them know,” Ms. Kelly said. The possibility of returning to normal excited her, and she hoped it would happen.
If it wasn’t for her mother, things would have been a lot tougher after the paychecks stopped. “Mom paid my bills for those months when I didn’t have anything,” Ms. Kelly said. “I don’t think I could have made it without her.”
After she stopped working, she asked her family physician for a referral to a different neurologist and was sent to Charleston, S.C. While she awaited test results, her boyfriend moved to Haverhill, Mass., to be near his children. She moved with him.
She also applied for South Carolina Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits after her physician advised her she was a solid candidate for the federal benefits that she paid for with FICA taxes while working.
SSDI provides monthly benefits to individuals under full retirement age (age 65 or older) who can no longer work because of a disability (injury, illness or condition) expected to last for more than 12 months or is terminal. Individuals must have paid FICA taxes to be eligible.
As with most initial disability applications, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied Ms. Kelly’s request for benefits. The rejection threw her into turmoil. “What will I do now?” she wondered and fretted about how she could possibly get disability payments. Then she learned that a family member had received SSDI with the assistance of Allsup.
Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. 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. Based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis, Allsup has secured SSDI benefits for more than 190,000 people with disabilities.
After accepting Ms. Kelly as a customer in November 2010, Allsup representatives assembled and resubmitted her SSDI application for reconsideration. The SSA again denied her, but Allsup told her not to worry because they would put together a solid case they were confident would be upheld at a level 3 court hearing. As it turned out, the case Allsup built for her was strong enough that she received an on-the-record award without a court appearance. She was awarded SSDI benefits in January 2012. It had been a long-but worthwhile-wait.
Although she enjoyed being with her boyfriend, most of the medical treatments she needed were only available back home. When she learned that a potential treatment for the headaches using Botox injections would be available later this year, she decided to return to Greenville. Meanwhile, her days are filled with the dullness of drawn curtains and the boredom of channel surfing the TV set and waiting, hoping to reclaim her life.
“My mom says I am going to get well again, and maybe she is right.” Ms. Kelly said. “I don’t want to get my own hopes too high.” But she’s made the effort to try one last time to find something that will finally work.
And she is grateful for the persistence Allsup showed in getting her disability claim approved. “They kept after Social Security and wouldn’t take no for an answer,” she said. “I’m so glad I found them.”