Monday, March 14, 2011


Marion Pellicano Ambrose

How can life be so unfair? I know I promised to try and be positive but times like this make it impossible!

My adopted son is Bi-Polar and has Intermittent Explosive Disorder. His birth mother is mildly mentally retarded and his birth father was a cocaine addict and also Bi-Polar. My first husband died in the line of duty when my son was 15 months old. My son received a death benefit until age 18 when it turned into a disability benefit. He suffered through
dozens of hospitalizations, various drug trials, counseling, behavior modification, special ed and whatever else we could find to help him. He tried several times to work at a job. It always started out well, he was polite and hard working, but then he would cycle and become aggressive, caustic, abusive and careless. Coworkers didn’t want to be near him. Employers were afraid of him. Back to square one!

When he turned 20, he finally decided to try and get an education. With MUCH hard
work, and a lot of patience on the part of his teachers, he got a GED. It took 2 years
(after already having gone through 4 years of high school in special ed). He began taking
classes at the community college, having to take English and Math for no credit to bring
his levels up before he could qualify. He would go to a one or two hour class and have to
be tutored several hours to understand and absorb the material. I got him a Pell grant and
he takes only a few classes at a time. The office of students with disabilities helps him a
great deal. He has unlimited time to take tests, and his teachers have been uncommonly
patient and kind. This is how he’s been able to continue.

I help him in all aspects of his life, even though when he’s manic, he “hates” me and
accuses me of all sorts of things. I know it’s his illness speaking. He is unable to keep
friends because of his abusive personality when he’s manic. When he’s not manic, he’s
really very nice, interesting and funny, however most people aren’t willing to wait around
for the mania to pass. Not even other members of his family.

As if his life isn’t hard enough, Social Security has decided to take away his benefits.
He will lose his income, his medical insurance, his ability to go to school, and even his
ability to eat and have a roof over his head. He was ordered to see a psychologist last
week who, after spending less than an hour with him, decided he should lose everything.
She never consulted the places he tried to work, never talked to his teachers, never asked
me a single question. She brushed him off like a piece of dirt on her designer skirt. How
can someone do that to someone who is truly mentally ill?

I’ve called several lawyers, none of whom want to help because we can’t come up
with “up front” money. None of the “no cost to you, if we don’t win, you don’t pay”
lawyers will take him on. I spoke to a lady at one law firm who assures you that “you
have enough to worry about” and she was very nice, but unless I had $3500, she was
sorry and wished me luck.

So what do we do? No medication has ever kept him from becoming manic, no
psychologist, psychiatrist, behavioral analyst or life coach has ever been able to help him.
All we can do is support him, have him live alone so no one is abused, and love him in

spite of his disabilities. If he loses his benefits, where will he go? If I take him home, my
husband will leave (He put up with a life of hell for 19 years, so please don’t judge him!) and I will be the main target once again (and I’ve had enough black eyes, split lips etc).
I can’t do that. If I don’t take him home, he’s on the street, without anything or anyone!

How can this happen? I’m asking for help. 
Someone, please tell me what to do!


  1. You are truly an put a whole new meaning to mothering!!!

    Why was his social security benefits taken away?? Did you ever try to contact a local politician??

  2. TMF, Thanks for your kind words, but any mother would do the same.
    The letter my son receive said tat since he could go to school and pay his own bills, he wasn'r disabled. I've written to everyone I could think of. This just happened Friday so no response yet, but my son is going off the deep end over this. He's totally manic now.

  3. Marion...please know your team here at DRL will do whatever we can to help and support you. xxoo

  4. I am so in your corner and ready to rally in whatever way necessary that I can to help you and your family. You know I understand on so many levels. My heart breaks for you. Know I shed tears with you for families like ours and all the families that are in anguish with mental illness and disabilities... PRAYERS YOUR WAY!!! XOXOXO

  5. Wow this one breaks my heart & hits close to home.
    But it was no surprise the therapist turned him down... the therapist is paid by Social Security! Why would they talk to anyone who'd defend him?!
    So many cuts are being made to the people who need it most. Special needs related items are always on the chopping block.
    My wife is in the special needs field. She's heading to Albany tomorrow to fight some cuts the Governor wants to make.
    Keep fighting Marion no matter what.

  6. Tony is right - KEEP FIGHTING NO MATTER WHAT!
    I have spent countless hours fighting the system and social security for my Autistic son and disabled husband. No one will be an advocate for you and yours except YOU. I have learned this through "blood, sweat and tears". I truly believe they want you to give up and go away. I am angered by this every time I deal with the system and wonder what happens to those who have no one to fight for them! KEEP UP THE GOOD FIGHT! Know I'm here and my prayers are there!!!

  7. If you'd like to e-mail me at I would be happy to give you the name and number tomorrow of the best SS disability Attorney. She's in Garden City and does not charge a fee unless she gets it for you and then it's on a sliding scale. This kind of stuff makes me ill!

  8. Marion, Try writing to Bill Nelson or George Lemieux. They're our representatives in Washingto. Make them earn some of what we're paying them!

  9. This is a disgrace! You and your son are both trying so hard to make a decent life for him. People who really deserve benefits are denied and people who don't need it collect for generations! And you adopted him! That makes it even more of a travesty!They should have given you help from day one! You have my prayers! I wish I could do more!

  10. God bless you for adopting him, raising him, and standing by him! I know what it's like to live with a Bi-Polar personality. Life is indeed hell and no one understands just how every minute of every day is affected by this illness. They can be cruel, violent,selfsh and psychotic at times, but as you said, they're ill. Mine was a husband, who I divorced. I don't know what I would have done if it was a child! I'm so sorry for you!

  11. Marion - you go girlfriend! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT for what is RIGHT! Nothing makes me angrier then injustice! If I can help in anyway - Know I am here! I'm with Dawn Tony & Barbara - DRL supports you 100% and then some!!!

  12. Patrick Kennedy, who is no longer a congressman, championed the rights of the mentally ill. He was I believe, bi-polar. I will try to get some info about him and pass it on.

  13. Marion,
    Anguish and torment is truly the right word for what your heart is going through. Maybe this story should be told by the media. Maybe this therapist needs a wakeup call to the consequences of his/her actions. A front page article might be just the thing. It is worth a try.
    Will keep praying for a happy solution.
    Keep hoping and trusting in God.

  14. Oh Marion, how could Joseph's benefits be cut off? How could somebody see him for mere minutes and make that decision?

    What about all his school and medical records? Did the person making the decision even know his history?

    You did so much and sacrificed so much. It has been said, "Anybody can parent an easy child but it takes somebody special to parent a difficult one."

    The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Contact everybody and everyone.

    What you wrote is true- no therapist or medication can fix the situation. Social Security money will not magically make him better, either, but it WILL keep him safe.

    The cutbacks to mental health care and for the mentally ill are shameful.

    I'm pretty loud and I'm pretty good at writing letters. Tell me if you need one from me. I was there. I saw how much you went through to help Joe. Let me know when and I'll write it up for you.

  15. It is important for this comment by Marion's daughter to be seen here. With her permission I repost it from Yesterday's Lunch Time Poll:

    "I am Marion's daughter and I am also a psychology major. I can't even describe to you the effects of having a disabled family member has on a family as a whole. Growing up I watched my mom put her heart and soul into helping my brother when no one else even wanted to be in the same room as him. I think it is a major factor that the social security system neglects. I can understand the need to cut social security from those that really don't need it. But for people like my brother, who truly can't hold a civilized conversation, can't hold down a job, and who is mentally unstable I think cutting them is wrong. It is not just affecting him but all of us now. A person is never alone. One person can effect several others. If he does not receive social security then my mom will have to help him financially and emotionally which, as strong as she is and as amazing as she is, I believe that she shouldn't have to. I agree that a case like this should be brought to public attention so that Social Security can realize that they have to revise their system. In cutting one person's social security they are hurting several more."

    My own response there to this brave and compassionate young woman was:

    Dear Marion's Daughter,
    My brother is bipolar too. I know first hand the effects of growing up as the baby sister in that world. Know my prayers are with you. I <3 you. I will do all I can to help to fight this gross injustice!

    You keep the faith and keep being your Mom's angel!!!

    Many reader's have come forward asking how they can help and making wonderful suggestions. All information is being given to Marion and her family as soon as it is sent to the lounge. The crew at DRL is also looking into implementing some of the suggestions. We will post information as soon as it is available. THANK YOU for your concern, support and prayers!

  16. What an awful situation! You and your son are in my prayers. It's so unfair and unjust! That psychologist should be ashamed of herself for causing such hardship to your son and all of your family.

  17. Dear DRL, Could you give us an update as to how Marion and her son are doing? Did they find a lawyer? How can we help them? This is so disheartening!

  18. I'd like to thank everyone for all the emails, comments and expressions of concern! We filed an appeal but so far, no lawyer will take it on. It's just a waiting game now and probably one that will not end well.