Theater of the Absurd

“FACE,”, 2002, 14″ x 14″ x 4″, m/m

The other day I went to the Social Security office to re-apply for disability having been turned down previously.

The first time I applied I made the dire mistake of presenting myself as is…

Meaning: a woman challenged by this ‘thing’ but not caving to it.

Carrying herself with a careful nod to the ‘I can do this,’ camp.

That was a big ole’ mistake for Cath..

Seems I just looked too good.

Too able.

Made too much money (I reported $6000.00).


In my recent approach I had the benefit of counseling from some people in the know and these are some of their suggestions:

1. Dress like a bag lady.

2. Do not shower for three days before the appointment.

3. Only speak when spoken to.

4. Push your infirmity to the max so they see you are really disabled.


I had a difficult time with these suggestions.

I truly recognize that there are so many people in economic fear at the moment that security is stepped up in order to weed out the posers.

But as far as I could go was not to wear makeup and borrow a torn coat from a friend.

I answered 2 hours worth of questions geared toward trying to catch me in a falsehood.

The intake person was a well-oiled example of doing her job well.

I had nothing to hide which is just as well because I’m just plain bad at that activity.

The two of us connected well and I do believe I noticed a bit of relief from her,

Recognizing my true need and easy honesty.


What’s done is done and now I wait….


4 Responses to “Theater of the Absurd”

  1. Laura Hegfield on November 30th, 2010

    wow! I have yet to apply…have the forms and have not filled them out, feeling trepidation…I’m good with the no make-up and happy to have my husband push me in in my wheelchair…but the no bathing thing seems a bit extreme. It’s so sad, that those of us who truly cannot get out of the house to work have to fight so hard for the money we paid into all the years we DID work!!!

  2. Bibliotekaren on November 30th, 2010

    Cathy, I await the decision on my first application (didn’t do the in-person thing), so my opinions aren’t based on success…yet.

    However, I’m not sure that I agree with the first two suggestions as these folks are keen on sniffing out falseness. From your posts and one video I’ve seen of you, I’m guessing that your genuine and classy persona would be incongruent with a stinky bag lady routine. Skipping the make-up was likely good though and I mostly agree with 3 and 4.

    I think you’re right about dropping the “I’m rising above this” attitude. I think they’re looking for how is it to do your daily tasks. What adaptations do you need and how long can you sustain X-amount of effort before you wonk. Very specific function-oriented info.

    Cathy, am wishing you the best on this next round.

  3. Muff on November 30th, 2010

    Cathy, I agree that you shouldn’t put on an act, either way. I was ‘fortunate’ (?) in that I was really in a bad way when I had to appear. So being pushed in a wheelchair, and not being able to do many things was for real. I thought I’d be rejected, but I received approval in ten days! Hope you do well!

  4. webster on December 1st, 2010

    Even though it’s a done deal, and good luck to you, my only suggestion to people with relapsing remitting MS is to describe your MS on your worst day, not on how well you cope on your better days. I think that is being true to yourself and to them,

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