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SSDI – Social Security Disability

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Dear Friends,

I am doing research on Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) on the site and have found numerous posts and trying to digest the posts one at a time. For information, I live in California, if it makes any difference. I still have six months before I will need SSDI as my short-term disability will continue for next six months, but in case I need to go on long term disability, my plan will deduct SSDI payments, even if I am not approved for SSDI. Therefore, I am trying to be pro-active.


In the meantime, I will appreciate any help on the following areas:

  1. What is the process? How to start the process? I believe I should start now and my short term disability should not matter for SSDI.
  2. How long it takes?
  3. Any tips to accelerate the process
  4. What types of documents are required?
  5. How to manage documents from several doctors?

Any other information is sincerely appreciated.

Kind regards,





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Hi Kamlesh,


I'm afraid that as I'm in the UK, I can't give you any helpful advice from my own experience.


However, I've found a thread about Disability Payments which I do hope will give you some useful information.


I do hope that your claim will be successful.


Kind regards,

Jo Frowde

ISN Board Member

ISN Secretary of the Board

ISN Assistant Webmaster

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International Scleroderma Network (ISN)

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Here is the link to Social Security Disability. It has all the information and forms on it. Scleroderma is on the list of qualifying illnesses.The more documentation you can provide, the better. It IS hard to get your records from various doctors, that is why it is important to keep things from the beginning. You may have to do some leg work yourself, writing to doctors and hospitals for release of tests, notes, etc. With all of the different ways this disease can affect you that probably means several places. Sometimes there is a charge for this.


There are many threads on disability here, do a search on the forum and see what comes up. You should apply as soon as possible. You may want to begin a daily record of what life is like for you. You may get turned down and have to appeal but don't give up, hire a lawyer who specializes in disability if you have to. Here is another thread.


I qualified immediately because End Stage Renal Disease is an automatic disability but had to wait the 6 months. When you do qualify, keep your letter of benefits and continue to keep records because your case can come up for review in the future. I can't get a straight answer from SS about my case, supposedly SSD continues for 3 years after transplant, but all the SS office will tell me is it will continue until my case comes up for review. My disability is currently for ESRD and I might have to reapply for benefits under scleroderma when it does.


The sad thing is that nobody seems to know what is going on, people who are applying or have benefits or the people who work for Social Security.


Keep us posted on your progress and what you learn. Good luck!



ISN Artist

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Hi Kamlesh,


This is a process which I have recently traveled and am very familiar.

  • What is the process? How to start the process? I believe I should start now and my short term disability should not matter for SSDI.

Go to the website for SS Disabilty. There is guidance to the forms that can be printed off for your use. Since the form did not have enough space to fit my information, I constructed a separate document to fit all of the information. They were very pleased with this. The document asks for diagnoses, prescribed drugs, and, most importantly, a list of doctors and addresses, etc. to get hold of them. They will need this info to contact your doctors for copies of the records (doctors fill these requests all the time. Some may charge). You take this info to your local SS office.

  • How long it takes?

It took me two years. It seems that the current atmosphere is deny everything, probably even quadruple amputees (after all, they can probably type with their nose...), probably because of the current financial atmosphere and government debt. After the first (likely) denial the next process is an appeal, followed by a court hearing.

  • Any tips to accelerate the process

Get a good disability lawyer now, since the eventual hearing with the judge is likely the only way to get satisfaction.

  • What types of documents are required?

See the website.

  • How to manage documents from several doctors

You need only provide addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers and they will request the records, They, of course, want to get the records directly from doctors and not through you, since that might increase the likelihood of fraud. It's sort of like requests for college transcripts. There may be some idiosyncrasies in the ways different doctors handle this, but they can be handled easily.



No doubt my tone is very negative based on my experience. Hopefully it will go better for you. It certainly was an education, and it helps to have a fighting disposition.


Good luck,



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I'm afraid I have to echo Craig's sentiments. The SSDI is not for the faint of heart; it's a long, frustrating process, almost impossible for an ill person to handle alone, and takes so long to be approved that most anyone without resources such as long term disability insurance, or a hefty savings account, would be bankrupt before they see any SSDI check!


Before I applied, I researched SSDI thoroughly as to requirements, the documentation I would need, had the backing of 3 of my doctors (primary, rheumatologist and pulmonologist), had numerous testing results, xrays, multiple surgeries, evidence of 35% decline in lung function, joint deterioration in several joints, nerve conduction studies showing deficits in my hands even after carpal tunnel surgery, diastolic dysfunction as evidenced on ECHO (stiffening of the heart); months of physical therapy over the past 5 years, with only minimal improvement in range of motion of hands/wrists, hips, shoulders; vocal cord tightening as evidenced on laryngoscopic video; manometry evidence of "absent" motility of both esophagus and rectum/anus....I could go on and on... my lawyer said my medical file was by far the most voluminous and thorough documentation he had ever seen.


I applied in August 2010, was promptly denied in October 2010. I appealed with a lawyer, and waited until December 2011, when I was granted a hearing before a judge. A few months before this hearing, I was examined by two of the Social Security doctors - a demeaning and humiliating experience to say the least - I was assumed to be a liar, and treated like one, from the moment I stepped into any SSDI office. Their doctors had not one scrap of my medical file nor history of illnesses (which by then had spanned more than 10 years), saying they were only there to assess my functional abilities. Both doctors had to help me up from the floor, after they requested that I squat ( my knees gave out and I couldn't get back up), yet both their reports stated their exams were essentially normal, except for only minimal restrction of motion in only my left shoulder! (If they had even bothered to look at one xray of my shoulder, they would have seen from it that I couldn't possibly have near normal range of motion - there is so much bone destruction, I have been advised by my orthopaedic surgeon I need a total joint replacement).


At my hearing last month, even the judge readily admitted it was clear that I was not able to perform my nursing job of 17 years, but asked why I thought I couldn't do a desk job. I described the best I could about the debilitating and chronic fatigue and pain (that we are all too familiar with), how some days I can't even get out of bed...As we left the hearing, my lawyer told me the decision could go either way, that he'd seen a case when the judge had denied an applicant, saying he could always get a job as a department store greeter even in a wheelchair!


Maybe the judge was in a good mood that day, or had some Holiday spirit, because I got my approval letter a month later, but it still irks me, as I'm sure you can tell!


My advice? Get an experienced disability lawyer, and be as financially and emotionally prepared as you can be for a lengthy process. Make sure you've discussed your inability to continue to work with your doctors and make sure they document it in your record.


And know through it all that you have a lot of support from us all!


Good luck!



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Kamlesh - can you PM me and tell me where in California you reside? I would love to help you with a referral.

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