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#1 mutsy67

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 04:52 AM

Hi All,
I need some advise on Social Security. I have been working but I work less and less all of the time. I own my own business so it has been a matter of shuffling more of my work to my staff. My husband and I have decided that since it can take several years to get approval for Social Security Disability that I need to start that process now. I have two questions:

1) Do you recommend that I start with an attorney or can it wait until the appeal?
2) Is it best to have wages under the 850/mo threshold immediately to show loss of income or can it wait - or should you have wages lower then 850/mo for a year before you even file?

Thanks all!
Shari
Shari (AKA Mutsy)

#2 Gidget

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 06:14 AM

Shari,
I can't answer your questions specifically but here was my experience with SSDI --

I filed my application in April, 2007.
I was inititally denied and received approval on appeal.
My Notice of Award arrived in August, 2008.
I did have any attorney and the application was filed in New England.
Good Luck
gidget

#3 razz

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 06:41 AM

Hi Shari,

I would start the 850/mo income as soon as you can handle it financially and definitely before you file for social security. (There could be another option, but this would be my choice.) Usually you don't need to hire an attorney unless you get denied. Then you should retain an attorney for the appeal process.

I would suggest starting some type of folder for recordkeeping and on a sheet of paper write down all your previous and current medical appointments, doctors names, addresses and phone numbers, prescription names and dosages, your current symptoms, the date of diagnosis, and copies of any medical tests. This will come in handy having everything in one place when the time comes to fill out any paperwork.

Planning ahead is a great idea!

Hugs,
Razz
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#4 Peggy

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 06:47 AM

If you have sclero and it's reallly documented well in your med records then just go online by yourself and fill out the paperwork. Sclero is listed as a disease now that is to receive fast determination and depending on what involvement you have it is to be expedited also. I applied in November, approved in December, and received my first check in January. There's a 6 month waiting period and I hadn't worked since last July so that's why I received a check right away. I too was self-employed but still hardly worked and that's what I told them was when I quit working. If I had said last January then I would have received 6 months of back-pay also. But in all fairness I had worked up until July so that's what I said.

I know so many here of had so many problems with getting Social Security and it just escapes me on why that is. It just has to be the luck of the draw on who looks at your case I think. I had sent to Social Security the information from their own website indicating that scleroderma was a disease that should get automatic approval and my worker was great. When I had my phone interview he was really helpful and he was the one that said he was going to ask for it to be sped up.

Good luck and don't hesitate to do it. Once this disease takes hold you may not be able to work. I know I don't know what I'd do if I had to work as there's no way I could. Thank heavens it went through right away as it does ease the financial burden.

Warm hugs,

Peggy

#5 Purr

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 07:58 AM

I didn't have my own business. I retired 1/1/04 and until SSDI, I got my pension plus the company supplemented the SS until the age of 62. When I talked to a person at the Social Security office (made an appointment), he told me that how much I was making didn't have any bearing on how much my disability payment would be.

I applied for SSDI 5/27/08 and my 1st payment was deposited 6/31/08 (the supplementary part of my pension dropped off because I'm "only" 61. I have to pay back 10 months of the supplementary to the company pension center). I filled the paperwork out on-line like Peggy did and had all the documents they required (Birth Certificate, etc.). They took care of the medical records by using the information I gave them (those doctors must have really been on the ball. The hospital, too). I was amazed at how quickly I was approved.

Good luck.

Christy
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#6 janey

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 08:08 AM

Shari,
You may have already visited the Social Security website, but just in case here is the link to Disabilitiy Benefits. There is quite a bit of good information and some downloadable booklets that might supplement some of the wonderful advice you have already received.

I know that the question of "working" or "not working" is a hard one to make and is a very personal decision. Good luck with whatever you decide.

Big Hugs,
Janey Willis
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#7 sophiebun

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 09:31 AM

Hi,

Most attorneys only take your case once you have apply and already been denied twice and are ready for the hearing phase.

Apply as soon as possible. Be sure to fill out all the questions not just saying how bad you feel and what your health problems are, but emphasize how they effect your being able to work. SSA doesn't care how sick you are, they only care if you can work or not. Many disabled people do still work, so that is key. Good luck. It took me 28 months.

#8 truman

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 01:00 AM

Shari:

Having recently gone through the process, maybe I can help. Apply now and directly on line. Sclero/Crest is identified as one of the diseases that decisions are "fast tract" and generally approved; even more so since the new ruling in I believe, March 08. If you PM me, I'll forward you that ruling. The forms is a long and tedious one, but it allows you a password to go in and out of it at your leisure. Also be sure to read the directions as there is another form which must accompany it. Be extremely accurate and loaded with information. The more you give, the better for a quick approval. Go out of your way to supply the addresses, dates, fax and phone numbers they request. Don't leave any blanks.

Secondly, your payments are not based on your present salary, but rather what you've put in over your employment years.

Third, don't be shocked.......SSD payments are extremely low and you'll need supplemental monies available. Also remember that the Medicare portion will not kick in for another two years, so a hospitalization plan is a must until that time. COBRA will extend it's benefits to 36 weeks for this particular condition as well as others.

Fourth, if you apply for SSI, you must have virtually no funds, assets, etc. All bank accounts, cars, residences, any and all assets will be checked and recorded.

In this case, an attorney should not be necessary. That's not to say some have been turned down, but in this situation it appears to be a rarity.

Hope this helps and keep us posted.
Tru

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#9 mutsy67

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 04:21 AM

Thank you everyone for all of your replies! This forum is such a blessing in my life. I am five years into this diagnosis and the doctor that was going to work to get me to conclusion left private practice for research. Unfortunately she won't be available to help with the SSD process and the new doctor is reluctant to write down a diagnosis - I see him for the second appointment this Thursday so will see then (when he gets to review his "own" blood work rather then hers - why is that so important to them??) if he is a 'keeper' or not! Haha - been to too many bad doctors to put up with one that doesn't listen to me and have spent too many years now trying to hold my life together. Unfortunately with Sine Scleroderma I don't look like I have it . . . the joys! Anyway thanks again I appreciate all of the advice and will work on putting together all of my records and get ready for this step.

Shari
Shari (AKA Mutsy)

#10 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 04:41 AM

Hi Shari,

Please be sure to find out exactly what the SSA rules for disability are (from them, not from us as none of us are disability professionals or doctors or lawyers), and to consult a disability lawyer. Make sure you have the full support of your medical team in this decision. As I understand it, a person must be incapable of any work at all to qualify for SSDIB. That would generally mean zero income. And the restrictions are even harsher for the self-employed. The income guidelines only apply after disability is already in force, as a back-to-work encouragement.

So, do not apply right now -- know your rights and responsibilities first, and try to hang in there with working as long as you possibly can. Having scleroderma does not guarantee benefits! It depends on how the disease has affected you and which symptoms make it impossible to work. Some people have rather mild involvement, which is not progressive or which is under good control medically, and are quite capable of working for years, so it is not a slam-dunk for approval.
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#11 jefa

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 07:22 AM

Hi, Shari

You have received a lot of good advice. One very important thing to remember is that even when two applicants have seemingly identical circumstances, the application experience may be completely different. Shelley is right in saying the best place to get specific information is the source, the Social Security Administration website (the link Janey gave you above). On the site you will find a page called Adult Disability Starter Kit and in particular a link to the text version of the Fact Sheet which is very informative. On this sheet they give the following:

How does Social Security decide if I am disabled?

By law, Social Security has a very strict definition of disability. To be found disabled:
  • You must be unable to do any substantial work because of your medical condition(s); and
  • Your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 1 year, or be expected to result in your death.
Depending on the office in which you file, the individual claims representative who has your case and the completeness of the medical information supplied by you and your doctors, you may find everything falls into place, but it is far more likely that it will be a difficult process and make take as long as three years to get a favorable ruling. While you are boning up on all the information needed to make a decision which is right for you, make sure you have personal copies of as much information as you can gather. Good luck.
Warm wishes,
Jefa

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#12 Clementine

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 09:10 AM

Does anyone know how often private insurance companies reevaluate for long term disability? I went through the social security disability process and it was "granted" but am receiving income only through my insurance company.

Thanks,
Clem

#13 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 03:16 PM

I need to amend my earlier statement. A person needs to be incapable of "substantial gainful activity" and apparently this is defined by a certain dollar amount (and hours worked amount) that may vary by year. The amount may hover around $800/month; but do not refer to the charts on the back-to-work incentives as they are a different matter.

However, just not working enough hours or earning enough money (or even just having scleroderma) is no guarantee of benefits. It is critical to understand the laws regarding a specific disability and how that is evaluated by social security. (See the materials Tru referred to earlier.)

Many people are eligible for disability under employer policies -- but not by social security standards. Since it is complicated, its best to consult a disability lawyer right up front (before doing anything at all). Their consultations on disability are always free. They get paid only a percentage (limited by law) of any final settlement amount IF the case goes all the way to an administrative law judge hearing...as I understand it...and of course, I have no medical or legal training at all...obviously <sigh>...
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#14 Alice02

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 02:36 AM

I recently was approved for SSDI, I applied online and went on in person for interview I on June 03, 2008 and was rewarded on August 08, 2008. I strongly agreed with Shelley, you have to do your home work and get to know SSDI rules and regulation. However, tips and advice I received from all members one this site was extremely helpful. The most important thing is medical records and your doctors’ willingness to help filling out ton of paper that SSDI require from them.

Much love,

Naima