Should I keep my disability pension or go back to full-time work?

After three years, two rejections, and over 12,000 pages of paperwork, I was approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) on January 27, 2021. I never thought I would see the process through to completion.

Given my previous rejections, I was unsure how the trial period would go. I often lay awake at night wondering if I was “sick enough” to receive disability benefits.

Single with Scleroderma

I was married when I first applied for disability. My partner took care of the household bills so I wasn’t overly concerned about the amount I might receive. We had more than enough to cover our expenses, so I could do whatever I wanted with the disability benefit – save, invest, or spend on my son and me.

I never thought that I would ever be alone again. After that, in addition to maintaining my health, gaining a disability became my main focus.

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Although I am receiving benefits now, trying to support myself and my child with this amount is extremely difficult.

Finding an apartment where my gross income doesn’t have to be three times the rent is almost impossible. I can’t apply for food aid because I make “too much money” with a disability. (Too much? Really?)

As inflation rises and food and housing costs rise, it becomes harder to keep up with the bills. We still have to eat and my son deserves to be a kid.

The disability dilemma

My mind has been racing lately. Should I go back to full-time work? My scleroderma symptoms have calmed down since I reduced my stress. My flares haven’t been as bad and I’ve been feeling a lot more like the old me lately. I try to take full advantage of the good days.

Still, scleroderma is always lurking just around the corner and reminding me it’s there. It’s like being in a haunted house at a carnival waiting for something to rear its ugly head.

If I go back to work, I’ll lose my disability pension. However, the Social Security Administration has a Ticket to work Program that would prevent me from losing my benefits if I found I couldn’t do my full-time job.

SSDI is not a money-making opportunity. During times of stress, I wonder if I made the right decision to stop working and apply for benefits. At first it seemed like a good choice because I had a partner who helped support us. Now that I’m alone, I’m struggling to provide for myself and my son with what I’m currently bringing home.

The question is, do I give up my disability pension in hopes of a brighter financial future, or stay the course and hope things work out? I will always have scleroderma and multiple comorbidities.

In this uncertain phase of my life, many emotions flow through me. I want to give my son a better life and financial stability to my small family. I know I have to make tough decisions, but you’ll never see me give up. I will do whatever I have to do for my family.


Note: Scleroderma News is solely a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosisor treatment. This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosisor treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with questions about any medical condition. Never disregard or delay in seeking professional medical advice because you have read something on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and is intended to stimulate discussion of scleroderma-related issues.

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