Helping people navigate the Social Security disability system
PO Box 5746 Winston Salem, NC 27113-5746
Phone 336 995 5746 · 866 807 5835 · Fax 336 499 1147
Woman Owned and Operated
23 Years Experience
“Cracks in the System” by Ginny Campbell © 2009
This glass and wood assemblage depicts one person’s journey though a disability appeal process. But the story starts long before that. Able-bodied people do not simply decide one day to become ‘disabled’. Many who are healthy enough to work do not realize this could change. People with health limitations often give up everything else in their lives before they stop working. They give away their dog, stop going to church, lose their friends and family before they’ll admit they can no longer work. The journey from health to disability can be a slow, day-by-day process that saps a person’s vitality and robs them of what makes life worth living, including employment.
It is at this stage, then, that a person applies for disability benefits. Some find the process confusing and give up. Many are denied and do not file an appeal. Most do not understand how important it is to keep going. My job as a claimant’s Representative, as I see it, is to help people with their claim, explain the process, provide reassurance, ensure they don’t give up and try to obtain benefits for them. My job is to convey the medical, vocational and legal aspects of a claim while also communicating the human aspect: the story of a person’s journey from health to disability.
As a Representative I immerse myself in a person’s story. After two decades of listening, I made this piece. The person applying for benefits is depicted by a single crack in the clear glass that overlays the colored glass. This starts in the teal area, doubles back over the center and heads toward the orange. This conveys the long winding path a person takes as they move through the appeal process. The clear glass crack overlaps the colored blocks, but does not intersect. The vulnerability of the individual is meant to be viewed in contrast to the organized cohesion of the colored glass disability ‘system’.
The rest of the piece depicts the bureaucratic ‘system’. Rules that govern claims are called a ‘framework for decision-making’ so I used an old window frame. I used glass because it is like the decision making process: weighty, transparent, fragile and unyielding, I used colored and textured glass to symbolize the unique aspects that every case presents. No two cases have ever been the same. Numbers and letters on the glass mirror those used to identify the rules.
Every tale has two sides, and client stories are not the only ones I’ve listened to. The small central shards of color represent workers caught in the system- decision makers, support staff and claimant’s representatives. The shards are crowded by the dense, outer blocks. Their movements seem random- not synchronous. The glass is broken, as the system can sometimes seem. As light moves through the piece it constantly changes. The people in the system also change, as the system itself continues to adapt and change through the years.
The piece is interactive. If you stand close, when sunlight streams through it bands of color wash over you. So do I share each person’s life journey during the months I help them with a disability claim. Their stories, their pain, their humanity and transcendence have washed over me and colored my perspective and my own life. And I thank them for it.
Artwork and content copyright protected. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of the artist.
Virginia B Campbell is a professional non-attorney Claimant’s Representative who’s helped people with Social Security disability appeals for over twenty years. She passed Social Security’s examination for non-attorneys with a near-perfect score. She’s passed a criminal background check, meets continuing education requirements, and remains in good standing with the Social Security Administration as a non-attorney Representative.
"Qualified, Tested, and Working for You"
Ms Campbell is an Accredited Disability Representative of the National Association of Disability Representatives (ADR). She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in North Carolina. She’s a Board-Certified Art Therapist of the American Art Therapy Association (ATR-BC). She worked as a mental health therapist for ten years, and also worked in the Vocational Rehabilitation field. Ms. Campbell edits the Winston Salem Mayor’s Council for Persons with Disabilities newsletter. She serves on the Forsyth County Community Resource Connections Partnership Council FC-CRC.
Hiring a representative to help you with your disability claim is an important decision, and you should choose carefully. Ms Campbell works directly with her clients. You’ll always talk to her, not an assistant. She returns phone calls promptly and answers your questions completely. She spends time explaining what you need to know about your claim. She knows your disability claim is important, and treats it that way. She offers one day turn-around time on filing most appeals. If your appeal will take longer, she’ll tell you first the reason why. There’s no fee unless you win your claim. The fee is set and controlled by Social Security. There are no up-front costs. Any costs are kept to a minimum and discussed with you beforehand. There is no charge to discuss your case with Ms Campbell, and you don’t have to travel to an office just to sign paperwork. Call her to see if she might be the right professional claimant’s representative for you.
“The first time I spoke to Ms Campbell, I felt so relieved. She is very professional, but also very supportive. She keeps you informed of every decision as it happens. I’d refer anyone applying for disability benefits to Virginia Campbell for caring assistance.”
—T. R. Johnson, Mt. Airy, NC
“Words cannot express how grateful I am to have had Ms Campbell working on my case. Applying for Social Security disability was an extremely overwhelming process, but Ms. Campbell was there for me every step of the way. She answered all my questions with patience and returned my calls promptly. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”
—Denise Shaw, Winston Salem, NC
“Applying for Social Security disability benefits is an overwhelming task. For years my daughter tried to get benefits, not knowing there were advocates who’d come along side her on this journey. When we spoke to Ms Campbell she listened and told us what to expect. Although she has multiple cases she’s working on simultaneously, when she talks with you, you are the only case she has at that moment.”
—Catherine and Charlotte Symes, Mt Airy, NC
“I found Ms Campbell to be a very caring person. She seems able to put herself into your shoes and feel as well as hear what you’re saying. Her knowledge of working with the Social Security system enabled her to move the process along. With the type of work ethic and integrity Ms Campbell brings to the table, and her sensitivity to your situation, I’m sure she’d do all she could to assist you in getting a fair outcome.”
—L. P. Victory, Kernersville, NC
“After two denials, I needed someone who fluently spoke the ‘Social Security language’. Virginia Campbell was the perfect choice because of her background, attention to detail, and her genuine concern. She always listened and gave me thorough and honest answers to all my questions. I was successful in winning my case due to all her hard work.”
—Fay Love, Kernersville, NC
“I was speechless when Ms. Campbell called to tell me I’d won my claim. She was the only person who would help me- I don’t know what I would’ve done without her. I’m so glad my doctor gave me her number to call. To say ‘thank you’ is not enough, but I do thank her. I would never have gotten though this without her.”
—Carolyn McCrae, Thomasville, NC