Published April 2014
I didn't want to be disabled, because I had been such a high functioning individual."
Like so many people who receive Social Security disability benefits, Carrie had mixed feelings about asking for help. But the severity of her condition left her with few options.
Multiple sclerosis crept up on her gradually. At first, she dismissed odd symptoms that would come and go, such as loss of hearing in one ear only when she exercised. Or the sudden lightning bolts of pain that would rip through her knee - infrequently in the early days - and drop her to the ground without warning.
Then came the long, unexplained periods of fatigue. And the forgetting. Sometimes she had to pull her car to the side of the road, straining to recall her destination. At work, she found herself unable to listen. By the time a colleague had finished voicing a sentence, she had lost track of its beginning. The same thing happened even with her own thoughts.
At this point, she knew she had a serious problem.
After college, Carrie had climbed the corporate ladder in the insurance industry. She liked her job and had done well for herself. But now she could no longer function at the demanding pace her position required. "It felt like my significance was dropping," she explains. Eventually, she could no longer work. As her condition worsened and her doctors honed in on a diagnosis, she saw no alternative but to apply for Social Security.
Carrie's disability benefits allow her to rest. They also give her time to participate in clinical trials to help others grappling with multiple sclerosis. Most importantly, they help her feed and clothe her children, pay for school supplies, and attend to the family's daily needs. "The way the economy is now," she says, "we struggle."