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I'm Not Cut-Out for Traditional Work

Updated on September 21, 2015
Saying that an individual is capable of working is a very vague statement.  There's a little more to working, in the traditional sense, when you have a disability that the SSA won't recognize or accept.
Saying that an individual is capable of working is a very vague statement. There's a little more to working, in the traditional sense, when you have a disability that the SSA won't recognize or accept.

Based On This Evidence...

So after my most recent failed attempt at surviving in a traditional job, I made the decision to file a claim with the disability division of the Social Security Administration. I have multiple diagnoses, but the one I'm focusing on here is Asperger's Syndrome, a higher-functioning disorder on the autism spectrum. I did manage to graduate from community college with an Associate's Degree (barely). I also managed to maintain a full-time position for a little over 8-months. Both of those statements are true, and I think those were primary reasons I was denied my claim for SSDI benefits. It's also completely unrealistic to determine that an individual is capable of maintaining a traditional job based on those facts alone.

I am proud that I was able to complete a degree, and it's nice to know that I am being recognized for that accomplishment. But, at the same time.. what I had to go through to finish that degree far out weighs the benefits. For the first part, my concentration of study was in English. To make matters worse, it's not even in English Education (something I wouldn't have been capable of doing). I tried interning at a newspaper that went out of business shortly after I came on board. Secondly, in order to complete a 2-year program I basically went through 4-years of taking classes. I'm still sort of disappointed in myself due to this fact.

In addition to all of the above, when attempting to complete my education with a Bachelor's, or at one point even a Master's, I was unable to do so after running into issues that prevented me from successfully finishing my program at the university. An Associate's Degree in plain English isn't going to stand out very well in a cut-throat job market in 2015. Then we get to my work history, which is even more more unstable. I had a series of customer service jobs that all started and ended rather quickly during my last couple of years in high school as well as the summer before college. I quickly found out that I had no business anywhere near retail work. So I decided to focus on college, completing my volunteer hours necessary to qualify for my scholarship.

Things were a little rocky my first semester, but ironically it ended up being my best as far as my grades & GPA were concerned. I was named to the Dean's Honor Roll in the Fall of 2010. No sweat, right? During this time I was beginning to need money for text books and various other expenses, so I tried a work-study job at my school working in the performing arts division for $10 per hour. Sounds pretty good, huh? I thought so too until I found out that the man in charge of the position was Adolf Hitler reborn. Not only that, but the work was very irregular, with anywhere from 10 to maybe 20 hours per month (if any at all). When you did work, it could take three weeks to an entire month afterwards to receive compensation. Needless to say, I quickly quit this job.

When I was nearing the completion of my Associate's Degree, I had some interpersonal conflicts that began to arise and also could have potentially prevented me from graduating. Even though I worked these issues out, I went on thinking I had completed my program only to find out after I had already enrolled in university that I hadn't successfully completed all of the requirements for my program. I ended up having to retake a class well after I had departed from my community college in order to officially obtain my degree. I was so burned-out after all of this that I decided against continuing any further with school. Instead, my next major project was going to be finding a suitable job. I spent week, after week, after week of browsing the classifieds, the online listings, applying, calling, emailing, following up & completing electronic assessments, only to be met with a physical letter in the mail or an anonymous email of rejection with the standard 'selecting other candidates' garbage.

After more than two months of relentless effort, I was ready to just give up. I had completed an assessment after returning home from a jog, thinking very little of it after the fact. A few days later, out of the blue, I had a phone call from a hiring manager at one of the major companies I had completed an application/assessment for. I went in for the interview, and found out that same day I now had a full-time offer with pay & benefits surpassing any job I'd held in the past. I was very pleased that all of my efforts had finally paid-off. Shortly after that, I began the six-week training program for the role I was going to fill. It was a quiet classroom setting, and we mostly just listened to lectures and completed electronic assessments. It was no big deal and actually went fairly smoothly.

Then we deployed to the floor where we would soon begin taking live calls from customers across five States. I'm not going to go into detail about the company or the customers I was dealing with (in fact, it would be breaking HIPPA laws in this case), but my first week out on live phones was a rude wake-up call (no pun intended). In the first few weeks, it was manageable because we had a significant portion of the day off of the phones to review inventory and go over questions. This was due to the fact that we we're still basically in a new-hire scheduling bracket. However, even during this introductory phase I was already beginning to have problems. I was written-up at one point for muttering an expletive during a phone call when I was on hold. I was also verbally counseled on several occasions due to "unsatisfactory customer relations" or some other behavior like frequent bathroom breaks. The job was beginning to stress me out severely as the time I was expected to be on the live phones continued to increase to the point where on most days, other than a 30 minute lunch & (2) 15-minute breaks I was constantly on a phone call. This began to wear on my introverted personality style and I was becoming over-stimulated to the point where I was snapping at customers and supervisors.

My attendance began to suffer, and I was soon written up for it. Shortly after that warning, I was then verbally counseled on specific phone call interactions that the company basically was not going to tolerate in the future. In short, they gave me an ultimatum of either adapting or facing further disciplinary action up to and including termination. I was only able to make it to my lunch break before I was about to break out into hysteria. I notified my immediate supervisor that I was no longer interested in working for the company, turned in my badge, cleared my desk & departed into the fog of the unknown future that awaited me outside. I remember just sitting in my car, not even turning it on. I stared into space for what couldn't have been less than an hour. You have to understand that I thought that I could have made this work, or at least made it work long enough to transition into another job.

I began my search for other work opportunities in a sort of laid-back fashion shortly after I left the company. I still had a paycheck and savings to pad me for a while. I also began the process of applying for SSDI benefits, which ended up taking several months so if anybody is considering earning Social Security benefits please apply as early as you can! After sending paperwork back-and-forth, dealing with rude customer service, and spending an early morning in a psychiatrist's office, I received a letter (after beginning the process more than 5 months ago) stating that I did not qualify for benefits based on a review of my educational background, work history & medical history.

So here I am now, jobless, broke & departed with most of my belongings with debt that continues to pile higher and higher all because the SSA believes I can maintain regular work. It's not that I can't work, but I just don't fit into that rigid 9-5 forty-hour work week meme where I have to be courteous & sociable all day long. That's part of the reason I'm here writing on HubPages.


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    • SegaNet91 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristopher Billingsley 

      3 years ago from Tulsa, OK

      I'm in the process of hiring a disability lawyer. Hopefully I can be approved long enough to pay down my credit card debt & enroll in a new program at school.

    • Pico Triano profile image


      3 years ago from New Brunswick, Canada

      I live in Canada so things work differently here. I would think that Asperger's would get you out of call centre work at the very least. I can't imagine how hard working in that environment would be for you. It was hard enough for me to deal with the accompanying stress.

    • SegaNet91 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristopher Billingsley 

      3 years ago from Tulsa, OK

      Yes I know. I'm just not happy about legal fees & communicating with lawyers, etc.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      3 years ago from Vermont

      The alternate work system is where I've earned my living for more than 10 years. I worked in many different jobs, from server to manager of a large publishing division for a computer company to world-travelling project manager to web media developer. Each had its rewards and problems, but I have been happiest and most successful as a self-employed individual. Claims for SSI take more than a single attempt. I learned this from helping a friend with a TBI, PTSD and bipoloar disorder go through the process with the assistance of an attorney. If you can't earn enough by working as a self-employed person, perhaps you need a good lawyer to assist you with pleading your case. Best wishes to you for success in whatever path you take.


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