Each week I’ve been trying to mark something off the list my lawyer gave me to help me prepare for my SSDI hearing. My hearing is (gasp) is next week, so I’ve been running around trying to make sure I have things covered.
If you’ve been following along, the list so far looks a little something like this:
1. Keep a diary
2. Make a list of things you used to do but can no longer do
3. Make a list of medications
4. Write out a description of your job duties of your former jobs
5. Meet with your lawyer
Next week I’ll be meeting with my lawyer, which means this week is all about former job duties. Hooray. (Not.)
Many people who apply for SSDI benefits have been working at one job for a number of years. That, unfortunately, is not me. In the last five years I’ve had
thirteen fourteen jobs, probably evidence enough to the average citizen that I have had a lot of trouble trying to work.
It isn’t that I am cavalier about working, on the contrary I’ve been in several positions where my employer wanted to promote me. I work hard, and I like working hard. The trouble is that working hard doesn’t like me. I become fixated with working harder and harder until not only is there no way I can keep up with myself, but my mood destabilizes and I am lucky if I can perform any task at all.
For a long time I thought maybe if I found the right job, this derailment wouldn’t happen. That’s part of the reason I’ve had so many… I’ve tried working a lot of different jobs, attempting to find both a position that I enjoy but also one that doesn’t leave me stark raving mad at the end of the day. What I found is that it doesn’t exist (or, at least, it wasn’t readily available in Seattle when I needed it).
The task of listing my former job duties is something of a feat, considering the number of jobs I’ve had and how different some of them were from one another. I must admit, I’ve been working on this step for three weeks because I knew it was going to be the most difficult… and what I have now is a spreadsheet (several pages) with a lot of bullet points and words on it. Things like (taken from several jobs, not just one):
- Operate a POS cash register
- Unload and process replenishment merchandise from trucks
- Communicate with factories in India for product development
- Work as part of a team to come up with ideas for product development
- Measure incoming samples and convey technical details to factories
- Dress and stylize mannequins
- Perform friendly and upbeat customer service
- Safely operate a stone saw
- Safely utilize caulk, scissors, razor-blades, to create samples
You get the idea.
What it comes down to is creating a list like this can come from several sources. Here are a few I found to be the most helpful:
1. Look back through employee paperwork
I’ve kept a few of my “employee handbooks” and paperwork from when I started my new job(s). I realize this isn’t something that many people keep, but when I looked through the paperwork I found a list of job duties printed right on the paperwork. This was nice and easy, because there were a lot of things listed I would have normally forgotten.
2. Visit your employer website and search for job opportunities
If the handbook thing doesn’t work out, you can go to the website for your employer (given you were employed by a large corporation) and do a search for job openings like that one you were employed in. Job opportunities usually have duties listed right in the description, which is a great place to get details you may have missed.
3. If all else fails, consider what you did on a day to day basis
What did you do when you were at work? I would consider both your day to day responsibilities but also special responsibilities you may have had when something big happened. Were you asked to help prepare the store for a big event? Did you meet with the Chinese fabric vendors? Consider those responsibilities within your job duties.
Like the medication list I mentioned, I have found it is a pretty good idea to keep a record of jobs I’ve had, with information such as how much I earned at each job, the address of the business, the phone number of the business, who my manager was, and the dates I began and ended each job. With the encouragement of this new step (listing job duties) I’ve gone a step further and added a list of job duties for each job I’ve had to the “Master Job List” as well.
This list is more useful than just applying for SSDI, I’ve used it when applying for food stamps and certainly when applying for jobs (they always ask for the addresses of my former employers which I can never remember). Keeping a list like this could be extremely helpful if, heaven forbid, your symptoms require you to apply for SSDI down the road.
Don’t let me fool you. I’m not as organized as one might have you think… I just really obsess over making lists.
Anyway, finishing this task has helped alleviate a touch of my anxiety. All that is really left now before meeting with my lawyer is figuring out what to wear, which (as a woman with anxiety who worked primarily in the fashion industry -a fashion horror trifecta) might take a full week to figure out, which is why I’m giving myself as much time as possible. I’m a firm believer that our clothes say things that aren’t said out loud, and I want to make sure I am saying the right thing with what I’m wearing.