What's it like to Be Retired? Interesting Commentary by Irwin!

Retirement Disability

These Retirement Disability stories were contributed by real readers to this site. By offering their own personal stories, they can get both feedback from other retirees AND help future visitors to find their way through the heartache and hassles of disabilities. Thank you!

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Disability Retirement and Me

by Patty D. (now 64 9/10)
(Western PA.)

I WENT... I BECAME... I WAS!



At about the very "tender" age of 50, I decided to go back to school, a University of all places!

I had already gone to EMT School (which to me was a "walk in the park"), as Emergency Medicine had always been a passion of mine. Well let me tell you, going to a GREAT BIG University was NO walk in the park, NOT at almost 50 years old.

In the summer of 1998, I officially enrolled for the Fall term at the University of Pittsburgh in my hometown. This campus is a HUGE sprawling campus of at least "a million" buildings. At least that's what it seemed like to me.

I will never forget my first day of classes, August 31st, 1998 at 8:00am, and it was Anatomy & Physiology. My course of study was Emergency Medical Services (Associates Degree as a Paramedic). It was a 2-Year Course with the concentration of work being in Medical Subjects, as well as Public Speaking, Writing, and Political Science.

I was ALWAYS the oldest student in every single one of my classes. My second year of study involved my usual maximum number of credits allowed at college, as well as Full-Time Paramedic Classes (along with Clinic Hours), and I also work virtually Fill-Time as a Security Guard at a local Steel Plant (mostly 12:00 Midnight to 7:30am (so I could attend classes), plus worked on weekends.

I also kept my home for my husband, and the Grandson we are still raising (he was 4 1/2 at the time of my Graduation).

I was the oldest member of the Class of 2000 at the University of Pittsburgh here in my hometown. My Public Speaking Professor sat directly behind me, and kept patting my shoulder saying "You did it Kid".

Throughout many ups & downs of those 2 years, I was able to finish with a "B" average... not bad for someone who (at that point) had been out of High School for 34 years. A truly high point of my "College Days" (no I as not voted Homecoming Queen--a skinny blonde won).

A well-renowned area Open Heart Surgeon invited me to observe him perform an Open Heart Surgery. I was totally ecstatic and quite honored. Of course, I had to miss class that morning, but my Professor stated there was nothing better than a true visual and hands on class. It was an experience that I will never forget, and such a distinct honor.

All of you are most likely wondering "what in the world all of this has to do with Social Security Disability".

Well my dear friends, as I explain to you further, you will understand why applying for these benefits, was the MOST emotional painful thing I have ever had to do.

Before I embarked on my "Dream Career", I decided to "fine tune" a few minor health issues first. That in itself was the worst decision I have ever made in my life.

What was to be a simple bunionectomy procedure, turned out to be TWO bunionectomies here in my hometown. Both of these were performed by a Podiatrist (who I thought was "Tops" in his line of work). However, he and his partner turned out to be nothing more than (for lack of a better term) butchers.

I endured more than 10 months of sever pain, and still could not see any difference in my (left) foot, with toes still being "hammered". I decided to go see an Orthopedic Foot Surgeon in Pittsburgh. When he X-Rayed my foot & examined it, he was appalled at its condition.

Arrangements were made, my surgery to be performed at Allegheny Hospital. He had to subsequently reconstruct my left forefoot, re-break my toes and set them again with pins (sticking out), plus re-do the bunion. That surgery had a recovery time of nearly 4 1/2 months.

Next, he had to perform what he called a "fine tuning" on a toe of my left foot. This toe simply wouldn't st down. During that surgery, he found that a pin which was supposed to dissolve, was still intact, and beginning to become problematic. He had to work with difficulty to remove it, and re-insert a new one that now does not allow me to move that toe at all. The recuperation time for this surgery was 13 weeks.

This is where my "saga" gets to the loss of my Dream Career. Because of these 4 surgeries (the 2 botched ones plus the 2 in Pittsburgh), I found that standing for more than 15-20 minutes caused me excruciating pain. Also, I could no longer wear the required EMS work boots. Neither was I able to jump out of the back of an ambulance while performing CPR on a patient who's life I was trying to save.

In the following months, I obtained a Disability Attorney, he took my case, but very politely informed me that it would most definitely be an "uphill" battle. In other words, it would be VERY tough to win this one.

I looked at him, and with tears in my eyes, told him what else do I have to lose; I've already lost my career.

Of course we lost the first round, and I refused to give up. I told my attorney, when the waiting period is up, let's do it again. So, in July of 2002, we went back to court, gave & heard a lot of
testimony, & then the hearing officer called on a Vocational Counselor to testify. I thought to myself, here we go, I'll surely be screwed with this guy.

Well, lo' & behold, this gentleman was entirely on my side. He told the hearing office that there was absolutely nothing in my field (or otherwise) that I would be able to do, that would be comparable to the wages I would & should be earning. He stated that I was too intelligent and over-qualified for anything that he had available.

So I was awarded my disability, which ended up being one of the smallest disability checks I have ever seen the government send. Just to have to apply for such benefits was demoralizing to me because, as I said:

I WENT...I BECAME...I WAS!

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Disability Retirement and I'm OK!

by Mary
(California)

Hello, I am from California, United States and I am 58 years old. I was a shopkeeper and helped my brother with carpeting, but now I stay at home and do not have any thing to do.

I pretty much stay at home all the time and try to pass my time doing helpful doings for myself and others. The disability is the back pain. I need the help of others and can not do almost anything on my own.

I was not prepared for retirement. And thought I would work more years in my field of work.

I am doing well financially and I spend about five hundred dollars each month. Yes, it pays my bills, feeds me and my family, and provides a great life for me. I am not sure how long it took for my Social Security to be approved.

I live a very calm and quiet life, I do not belong to any organizations but I have many friends and family.

I have a daily routine where I include physical and mental exercises, do routine domestic chores, meet social contacts, enjoy many entertainment, learn new skills, perform social service, do actions for self improvement and I love to talk to people and discuss life. I also do gardening, morning and evening walk, make new friends, use the computer, watch TV, and play with pets. I eat mostly at home but every now and then I go out to small restaurants. I love to talk with people and be an active person by walking, running, and exercising everyday.

My retired life is good but not very interesting as everything happens respectively. Thank you for reading about my retired great life.

Wendy Hi Mary-- It's a pleasure to read that you overcame the retirement disability issue -- and can actually enjoy your life. You do what you can do.. and enjoy every day! I am thrilled for you!

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Loved my job, forced into Disability Retirement

by Bill H
(Florida)

I must say that I love my job. I have been working for over 50 years in my profession. I started when I was right out of college in the field of computers and emerging technologies.

AS time went on, the more I worked, the more I loved it. Each day that went on never felt like a "job" to me, it was a gift of going to work happy every day and realizing how fortunate I was.

In the 90's, I had an accident. I was working on my roof and I slipped on the second to last step on the ladder... Falling about 14 ft. to the ground and severely injuring my back. Luckily I had my son with me at the time, we got to the emergency room quick. I ended up fracturing two vertebrae.

I had to take disability and I thought this would impact my retirement. Luckily It did not. It was smooth sailing, outside of the pain and suffering.

There were some financial issues because I did not receive the same pay as my salary, but it was better than nothing. The medical bills were high but my insurance covered 90%.

I have a scooter I need it, but I used it the first day I got it and found out it was not for me.

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Retired at 39!

by TODD
(AURORA ILLINOIS)

My story is one of good fortune, hard work and also tough luck.

My father and I owned a very successful HVAC company in the suburbs of Chicago for 24 years which we started out of our garage for $1000 dollars in 1984.

We grew the company to be a well respected and extremely profitable firm. One of the lead HVAC construction companies in the area and a major player in the industy.

At 36 I was diagnosed with M.S.,a sometimes debilitating disease. At 39 my disease threatened my ability to work my usual 12 hr days 6 days a week down to 1 or 2 days a week about 6 hours a day.

As luck would have it, we where offered a large buy out and accepted the offer. Funny how things worked out at the worst time of my life!

Through new drug management and stress free lifestyle my M.S. is well managed now and I am living a very comfortable and full life being retired!

Wendy Retired at 39 - Disabled - and yet you can say "I am living a very comfortable and full life being retired!" wow! I wish other retirees, much older, could find joy in the very act of everyday living like you!

I hope your post encourages other disability retirements that there is life after work ends (though many are not financially set as you are.. you were able to sell off a company, they were forced to quit work, unexpectedly, many times with little in savings or pension).

Anyways, love hearing your story and, yes, it is funny out life works out.. I think God was looking over your shoulder!

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Disability Retirement at 39 - Fibromyalgia

by Lynn
(PA)

I was stricken with an illness called Fibromyalgia. One day I was going to work and I was feeling fine. The next thing I could not move a muscle in my body. I was being rushed to the hospital.

I was scared and not understanding what was happening to me.

I found out later that all my nerves and muscles in my body had begun to shut down. After being in the hospital for several days I was diagnosis with Fibromyalgia. I was confused and scared. I had never heard of the disease.

I was sent to a Neurologist who basically explained what was happening to me. I was a mail carrier at the United Postal Service for 10 years. My career had basically come to a complete end at the age of 39.

I found myself unable to brush my hair, wash myself, or remember words. I had to learn how to do everything again. The hardest part was learning how to pronounce words again. I use to take a dictionary and start from A to Z each day. I still have some speech problems with some words but I keep working at it every day.

This begins my disability period and rehabilitation period. The process of applying for disability through the federal government (employer) was not a hard or long process. I was granted my disability within 5 months.

The problems I encounter came from applying for my social security disability. It took me two years plus 2 denials before I was awarded my benefits. I thank God I had my job disability to fall back on because without it I wouldn’t have any income coming in.

Being force to retire before you reach your retirement age is a traumatic experience. The income you are use to having is no longer in existence. It is bad enough to have to deal with an illness but dealing with lack of income can be stressful.

It has been a long journey since I was forced to retire on disability but I have survived. I am doing a lot better with controlling my illness and not letting it control me.

I do part-time work at home when I am physically able. This helps me in supplementing my income. I am still living from paycheck to paycheck but at least I am alive.

My advice to others is do not get discourage and do not let pride stand in your way of getting help from others. Do not be ashamed because you had to retire earlier than you desired.

Take one day at a time and keep the faith everything will work out fine.

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Disability Retirement from S. Africa

by Peter of S. Africa.

Who am I, probably someone still trying to establish the unexplained, what happened to me, the person I knew for forty nine years?

Why me, will the issue forever remain wanted, all of this sounds weighty and weird, but please bear with me for a while!

I will endeavor to provide a background that serves as an indicator as to who I am and where I come from, so here goes; I am South African, 54 years of age, married with a wonderful wife, three grown children and four grandchildren.

I contracted Cerebral Malaria five and a half years ago while working in Mozambique and have battled the negative effects of the disease ever since, suddenly undesired life changes has seriously commenced; I was laid off from my work after spending 33 years of life in a technical field building new gold mines.

I endured the ups and downs of a complacent workaholic with no inveterate friends, as now concluded after many an acute personal investigations I firmly believe it was caused by my complete capitulation to my profession!

Fortunately I managed to collect a reasonable pension; however it has taken me two years to experience the realization that disability forced me into an early retirement situation.

I was a typical workaholic. Never the less while working on “major projects” all over the world and continually meeting interesting people from diverse cultures is to blame for the prevailing never ending inquisitiveness and the continual want of pen-friends!

However in seizure of the imponderable importance regarding continued communication with diversified peoples of our wonderful world as well as the correct usages of languages and its nuances and its importance… for it ultimately shapes our thoughts.

Early retirement meant a reduction in my pension, life has many lessons for me and this meant simplifying my life style through re-evaluation of my realistic needs.

I experienced the same disabling effect and therefore support the writer 100%.

Wendy: I had to put this on it's own page, instead of a comment as it's a good story to tell.

Peter, you might want to look at the Type A Retirement Blog, written by a doctor...
It's on the Retiree Blog list to the left.

You might also want to consider a website or blog..... share your travels online!

Thanks for sharing!

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