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Once again I'm investigating this issue...


My concern regards the sequence of events for qualifying.


From other posts I've gotten the notion that some continue to work because they cannot be approved for disability. It sounds as though they don't want to risk leaving a work situation unless they can be sure of disability approval.


Recently an attorney told me that I must not be working (or at least making less than the Social Security minimum) to even be considered. Thus I must cast adrift, losing all possible benefits of my employment, for the chance of being approved. If this is true, then the previous paragraph would be a misunderstanding.


Last year another lawyer told me that my chances would be very good based on my medical history - CREST scleroderma with Sjogren's, pulmonary hypertension, peripheral neuropathy (requiring that I walk with a cane), fatigue, myalgia, osteoporosis, lumbago and sciatica.


Is it true that one must stop working altogether for consideration of Social Security disability?



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Craig, I'm absolutely clueless on this subject. We do have a section on disability insurance. I did have a quick read of the Social Security Administration's web-site and it was my understanding that once you receive the disability status from them, you can't work (that is, no such thing as partial disability from SSA, but I believe the VA is different). I didn't see anything that would preclude you from working until you are approved to receive benefits. I could be wrong, though.


Have you tried calling the SSA and speaking to someone? I recently needed to do that and they were very helpful.


Best wishes,

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Hello Craig,

When I applied for SSD back in 2006 I was told that I wasn't allowed to work AT ALL for a six month waiting period. Nothing, not even part time. They go on the presumption that if you are disabled, then you cannot work, at any job. Believe me, it was a scary time. I am a single mom and at the time I had one son in college and one in high school, but I managed by the skin of my teeth to pull through. That said, I was one of the very lucky ones who was approved as soon as the six month waiting period was over.

I was considered disabled from the date that I applied, but there is a SIX MONTH WAITING PERIOD before any benefits will begin. You can check with the social security administration but I do believe this still holds. There is a two YEAR waiting period before Medicare benefits begin- and that is two years from the time you first start receiving SSD.

It is complicated. I did it on my own without needing an attorney because I was never denied. Attorneys won't talk to you unless you've been denied. However I spoke with each of my doctors individually and they were very supportive and helped me with all the endless paperwork. And I kept copies of everything.

As you say, it is very scary, having no safety net and giving up your job. The last thing you need when you aren't well is that added stress of having no income.

So that's my history, good luck and keep us posted.

Mary in Philly

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Mary's info is right on the money. There is a 6 month waiting period and when I applied I had worked some but it wasn't over their $900 limit. Once you get on disability you are able to make $900 a month and still receive disability. I was fortunate in that I applied in November and was approved in December and received my first check in January of 2008. I hadn't worked since July of 2007 so that took care of my 6 month waiting period. If I had worked more than the $900 then I would have had to wait 6 months for my first check.


I wish you good luck and I hope that you get it. Make sure you mention to your Social Security rep that takes care of it for you that Scleroderma is listed as a disease that is supposed to be considered fast tracked as a "compassionate allowance". That went into effect at the time mine was submitted and that was why it was fast tracked and went through so quickly. My doctors had done a good job of documenting everything in my medical records so when those were all submitted to the Social Security review board it was quite clear that I wasn't able to work due to medical reasons.


Warm hugs,



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Hi this is the first time I have posted, but have been lurking in the background.


I was just officially diagnosed with limited systemic sclerosis last week. I have Raynaud's, GAVE (watermelon stomach), GERD, aches and pains, and am very tired all the time.


I applied for Social Security in July 2003. Within 3 weeks I was given presumptive SSI. This made it possible for me and my kids to barely make it and we had to move into government housing. I received it for 6 months and then started receiving SSDI. It is true that you have to wait 2 years for medicare, but in my situation because my monthly amount was so low I still qualified for medicaid with a spend down. It all comes down to the information the doctor gives them and the case worker that is assigned to you.


I hope it works out for you very quickly. Now I babysit 3 days a week and still receive my full check from Social Security because I earn less than 900 dollars a month.


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Thank you for your responses. I guess I will call the local Social Security office.


My main concern was to keep working until sure that I could qualify. Some people don't go to work with a hangnail, and others drag themselves in, even if near death. I am more the latter type, and have gotten to the point of being sick too often.


I did hear about scleroderma getting "upgraded" for special concern with SS. I read that this is especially true when there is an additional complication. Since I also have pulmonary hypertension, peripheral neuropathy and Sjogren's, it seems that I would qualify.



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Hi Craig,


The current rule for Social Security Disability is that your earnings need to be averaging less than $980 a month.


See the link for Social Security Disability Planner which is in our Disability Insurance section. "To decide whether you are disabled, we use a step-by-step process involving five questions. They are: 1. Are you working? If you are working in 2009 and your earnings average more than $980 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled.. If you are not working, we go to Step 2." Social Security Administration.


It used to be that people could not be working at all, zero income, to qualify for SSDIB. Then they introduced the back to work program that allowed people who were already disabled to try their hand at working part or full time; and then they eased the restriction to allow people to still be working part-time and qualify for disability. Of course, that does not mean that all part-time workers will be considered disabled; there are still the physical or mental impairment requirements to meet.

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