Bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose. Because Heidi Scott had no idea she was a victim of the disease, she and her family suffered for years before they finally determined that bipolar disorder was the root of her problems.
Mrs. Scott was born in Hudson, N.Y. It was near the Catskills and the essence of country living. Growing up in nearby Stuyvesant, she spent long hours outdoors, attending every state fair, carnival and town fair in the area. Everyone knew everyone else, and life was good. Everything changed when she turned 11.
That’s when the youngster’s family moved to Toledo, Ohio. Her stepfather, the vice president of a large catering company, had been transferred from picturesque Hudson to industrial Toledo, Ohio. It was a huge change. In New York, cars and houses stayed unlocked. In Toledo, crime was part of daily life.
Mrs. Scott’s mother first noticed there might be something wrong with her youngest daughter when she was in high school. Mrs. Scott began staying out all night and started drinking and using drugs. Fortunately, she was still able to do well in school and was able to graduate.
For the next few years, she moved back and forth between Ohio and New York, finally settling in Ohio permanently. At age 23, she married Christian. The first two years of marriage were great; but the undiagnosed illness soon took its toll.
Stress was the biggest trigger and no one understood why. Her mother did not understand there was a medical problem until Allsup secured her Ohio Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Until then, she thought her daughter was just a wild child who refused to control herself.
Mrs. Scott attempted suicide four times. It wasn’t until after the last attempt that a doctor finally started to figure things out. Everyone would tell her that all the problems were just in her head. They said she needed to change her behavior, that she was hurting her family and that she was being selfish and attempting numerous suicides for the attention it brought her. Mrs. Scott disagreed, but no one listened. Her husband, she recalls, was incredible. “He never gave up on me,” she remembers. “He went through five years of hell without understanding what was wrong with me. He put up with so much.”
Even after three suicide attempts, the only treatment she was given, in Mrs. Scott’s words, was to be “drugged up.” The doctor who treated her after her last attempt was different. He took the time to examine her past, look into her triggers, and observed her for six months before finally diagnosing her with bipolar disorder. There seemed to be hope at the end of the tunnel, but there was another hurdle just around the corner.
Mrs. Scott had worked as a nursing assistant for years, struggling to function in daily life. After the diagnosis, her employer was understanding. She worked at a nursing home, and her boss was a doctor who was determined to help her work around her disorder. But despite everyone’s best efforts, she gradually had to cut back on her work because of the stress. First, she dropped her work schedule down to three days a week. Then her duties were cut. Finally, it got to the point where she couldn’t function at work. It was wearing on the other employees, and her psychiatrist instructed her to stop. The company understood, but Mrs. Scott was now in a financial dilemma.
That was when she found Allsup, the nation’s leading Social Security disability representation firm. Founded in 1984 and headquartered near St. Louis, Allsup has helped nearly 100,000 people from across the nation receive their entitled disability benefits.
Mrs. Scott was surfing the Web when she stumbled across Allsup’s Web site. She had no idea that people with mental illness could qualify for SSDI. She didn’t think she would qualify, but decided to fill out a referral form on Allsup’s Web site. She thought, “I might just give it a shot.” Allsup went to work for her, doing what they do best.
Four months later, Allsup called Mrs. Scott with the news that she has been awarded the benefits she had paid for with FICA taxes that every working person pays. The government had met its obligation to pay what it had promised.
Carol Domescik, the Allsup claims representative who worked on Mrs. Scott’s case, remembers her well. “We were able to get such a quick award because her doctor gave her excellent support and because we very thoroughly gathered and documented her medical information.
“We provided the Social Security Administration excellent supporting material and the doctors promptly submitted their medical records,” she continued. Pointing out that the SSA denies two out of three initial applications for disability benefits, Ms. Domescik added, “We made sure the system worked the way it’s intended.”
“Carol was wonderful, she really got a quick turnaround on my award,” Mrs. Scott stated. “She had warned me that I would probably go through several denials and appeals, so I never got my hopes up. I expected denials, but I was awarded after my first application. It was amazing.”
Mrs. Scott was also eligible for Medicare after receiving SSDI benefits for 24 months. “It is a huge stress reliever, especially since my husband just lost his job, and we are totally relying on my SSDI payments,” she said. “I’m already on Medicare Part A and B, and I qualify for Part D, the prescription drug coverage.”
Stress is still incredibly hard to deal with, but her medication helps smooth out the rough spots. She still can’t handle the pressure of a job, but Mrs. Scott says she’s “getting by.” Stress used to send her to the hospital, but she now manages to survive day to day. She directly credits the combination of her medication and the SSDI that Allsup helped her get with her not being in hospital today.
“If my husband would have lost his job before Allsup stepped in, I’d be in the hospital right now,” Mrs. Scott said. “But thanks to the medication and the SSDI, I can handle the stress. We have food on the table and a place to live. Life is not too bad.”
*Heidi Scott’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.