Social Security Disability

I am a 1st grade teacher with 32 years of experience. I was diagnosed with PD 12 years ago and had DBS to control tremors on my right side 4 year ago. My tremors are gone however the symptoms that I do have such as swelling in my feet and ankles, knee pain, small handwriting, soft voice, and balance issues have made it extremely difficult to function as a teacher at the level that I have in the past. I complete tasks slower because of fatigue and also because I seem to have become very random in my actions.

Stress is a big trigger for me. I reached the point that I felt that I was not the teacher that I would want for my grandchildren so I have been on school disability. I tried to qualify for social security disability but have been turned down twice "because my symptoms don't prevent me from teaching." I am preparing for my final appeal through a hearing. Short of turning the stimulator off, does anyone have words of advice for me. I loved teaching but getting up at 5am to have time to get dressed (it is a process since I can't lift my leg up high enough to put on pants). By 9:00 it is all I can do to stay alert and not curl up under the reading table and nap. I can't sit on the floor any longer and I can't climb inclines or stairs without difficulty, I can't sleep at night and medications that I have tried cause nightmares.

I wish the people that are voting for me to return to the classroom had know me before PD.

22 Replies

  • I taught 2nd grade. There is no way I could go back into the classroom now. I got on ss disability right away. You've got to keep trying even if you have to get a lawyer. I think they keep 1 month as a fee. Good luck. I know Parkinson's is one of the illnesses with which to collect.

  • Thank you for your replies. I do have an attorney representing me but so far....nothing.

  • "preparing for my final appeal through a hearing. Short of turning the stimulator off, does anyone have words of advice for me"

    Its all in the (using) the right terminology / language. Recruit someone in the medical records field to be your writer. Recruit a psychologist for an evaluation. Maybe the med records person will volunteer their service

  • Hi laurel....haven't got an answer for you I'm afraid but just wanted to sympathize with your dilemma.. I am at the same stage of illness as you describe and worry deeply about financial security as I find it impossible to comit to any kind of employment. Yet I believe unless you have a limb missing or such like they will refuse disability. But they can say you're not fit to drive any more ...which in itself is contradictory. We could do without the stress of being hauled in front of a panel as well which stops me from applying. I wouldn't mind but we've paid for this financial protection over the years. Let us know how you get on. Good luck and thankyou for posting this...

  • My husband suffers from PD and had to stop work as he was falling. The employers said it was for health and safety reasons. Maybe you could go back to work just for one day and have the headteacher dismiss you? Try also getting doctors and PD nurses to write on your behalf.

  • the first reply said even if you get a lawyer. I recommend getting a lawyer who specializes in disability. They understand how to present information. based on the small amount of information you have already mentioned, they should be able to help present a good. case. Many PD patients do have to go through multiple hearings to get disability, but a good disability lawyer can shorten that process. good luck

  • Ask the SSA what affect on payment amount when your age qualifies for regular SS if you now go on SSD.

    I still think a lawyer is not necessary. My sister qualified for disability easily with only one interview. Her app was written by my wife, medical records professional, and she had psych report.

    Your psych report should address the known issues typical of PWP.

  • around here, southeastern MA, you almost have to get a lawyer. Even so, people are routinely refused on the first time. The fatigue, almost like Chronic Fatigue, is overwhelming. The students deserve to have a teacher who is fully there for them--not to say you are not up to it, but it's cruel on you to have to push yourself so hard. Teaching gets more demanding every year and 32 years should be enough for them to agree to disability for you. Good luck.

    One many in the PD group I lead, got it on the second try. He hadn't been able to work. It was great because then he could devote all his attention to his recovery and doing PT, exercise, diet, and LSVT-LOUD. It's quite a program we set for ourselves (our spouse in my case) but it's the best chance we have.

    Good luck.

  • I am so sorry to hear of your situation. Would it not be possible to have a supporting letter from your Neurologist outlining your symptoms?

    I wish you well.

  • Trying to make them understand, is the biggest problem.

    I have copied in a few suggestions,of descriptions taken from successful uk appeal hearings,that may help.

    I have Parkinson’s Disease it is a fluctuating and degenerative brain condition.

    I cannot guarantee that I can perform physically or mentally any task reliably repeatedly or safely for myself or in my professional capacity as a teacher.To continue,I am being forced to fail my pupils and myself.

    1. Parkinson’s disease affects——————.details————-

    2. Currrent medication for this is ————details———–.

    3. My daytime medication effectively controls symptoms for periods of between 30 and 90 minutes on each occasion, effective about an hour after taking medication. I can be approximate but not precise as to the effectiveness or duration of action of each dose of medication as it does vary.

    4. I have some limited benefit from the medication both when it is taking effect and when it is wearing off. The average time for which the medication is effective, is approximately 1 hour with half an hour on either side for ‘’wearing off and coming on’’.

    5. When my medication wears off entirely my functionality, both physical and mental are seriously impaired

    6. I cannot be sure that the effect of each dose of medication will be sufficient to enable me to perform or complete a particular task. The extent and time taken to sustain a task or to take it to completion are variables beyond my every day control .

    7. The timing of medication is critical to me.

    8. The timing of medication is a consideration essential to accommodating my personal self care needs in relation to hygiene, meal preparation and social events.

    9. Side effects of my medications can cause me to experience involuntary episodes of drowsiness and to make me feel excessively sleepy. This drowsiness is the direct side effect of the medication taken to counter the effects of my Parkinson’s disease.This is a direct result of treatment prescribed and the absence of alternative therapies.

    10. I am dependant on medication.

    good luck x

  • I too was at first refused Disability living allowance but this was overturned on appeal if you live in the UK I suggest that you go the citizens advice bureaux they are very good and free.

  • Go girl! Such good advice. Ill pray that you get it!

  • Unfortunately the average person has no idea how physically and mentally demanding teaching can be , especially younger age . There's very little standing round the drnks machine having a natter. You are on the go all day and that's not just 9 am to 3.00 pm.. I was a primary school teacher (UK) I am amazed you have lasted so long. Can you get hold of someone who has gone into teaching after doing another job because they might be a able to point out exactly what the demands are and then ontrast them with the answers to te questionnaire posted below Are you a member of a union?

    Best wishe

  • sorry to say, I think most boards deciding on disability are refusing people they know need it because more people are seeking disability than before. Call me cynical, but there you are.

  • my post disappeared (with what the site called its "issues") and then reappeared here. I meant to contrast the demands of teaching young children with the list of descriptors provided by Balderdash above.

  • Get a medically trained lawyer I was turned down twice got a lawyer/RN I went for arthritis which I was born with I had 49 yrs of pain and misery but I worked until I had to have cervical spine surgery which my gp thought was the start of my pd symptoms my left hand tremored a bit before the procedure, but it did a jig afterward the neurosurgeon said it was probably a trapped nerve or damage from my spine collapsing on my cord....I could not stand or walk without pain and after I got the lawyer she reviewed my case and put it in front of the disability board, because in my case my lower lumbar was showing compression issues...after that no problem. Good luck and keep fighting must people see us as invisable disability not realizing chronic pain in itself is a disability.

  • Has you doctor wrote a disability letter? are you do this by yourself. You need to have help and the doctors need to intervine on your behalf. This should never have been turned down twice. Good Luck and God bless.

  • Dear Laurel,

    I am a retired Kindergarten teacher, diagnosed three years post-retirement tho' in hindsight beginning to be symptomatic in my last couple of years. I cannot imagine how you can keep going with first graders! (I am assuming you are in the states by the "first graders" reference. In Canada we say "teaching Grade One" usually. ) I don't know how your employer judges "disability" but this is wrong and cruel and a legal battle as the only resolution seems so extreme. You need big guns on your side. Have you talked to the National Parkinson's Foundation (again assuming you are American)? Or the MJF Fox people? Or Davis-Phinney. I know there is a law firm in Vancouver BC that provides pro-bono support for PWP's. Perhaps there is one in your neck of the woods as well.

    Maybe we need, as PWP's, to think about a establishing a fund to support our community in fighting for fair and equitable severance and disability.

    I am in awe of your ability to put one foot in front of the other in these circumstances and very angry that you are not allowed to just go home and look after yourself, after all these years of loving, heartfelt service to kids and their families.

    Please let us know how things work out for you.

  • LauraL, I contacted Peggy Willocks who is amazing and a retired principal in the states. It is late here and I just got this reply from her. I hope it helps.


    I don't know why, but I cannot get Health Unlocked to sign me in. Let me give you the info to give this lady for now, and I will try to work on it tomorrow.

    I wrote that my SS application went through the first time, and is have helped many get approval.

    Here's a link to an article I wrote. A few things have changed since I wrote this, but if anything it's easier to get approval for PD.



  • I would turn off simulator

  • Helpful hints:

    o You have to be off work because of your disability for at least 6 months

    o Don't lie or exaggerate, but describe what life is like on your worst day

    o Have your doctor write a letter stating your unable to work & NOT a candidate for vocational rehabilitation

    o Have someone help you fill out the paperwork

    o Pray

    I am 57 & was diagnosed 11 yrs. ago & applied for SSDI in Jan 2014 & was approved in Mar 2014 using the above suggestions. Good luck! As you know, it's a very stressful thing to go through, but keep hanging in there.

  • I did some research before my husband applied for disability. 1. Have him fill out the paperwork, yes,it took about three days,but the case worker wanted to know who filled out the application (she could barely read it!). 2. Get all the medical documentation you can and submit with the application. The caseworker was very appreciative of this! Received determination within 6 months. We didn't use an attorney. Good luck!

You may also like...