Question about Social Security

Discussion in 'General Health & Wellness' started by worried725, Jan 5, 2005.

  1. worried725

    worried725 New Member


    I have been on disability S.S. for 14 years. I would like to try to work 2 or 3 days a week, but I'm afraid I will loose my S.S. if I do. Can I work and still draw my S.S.. I may not be able to work and don't want to go though the process of signing up for S.S. again. Has anyone worked and drawed their disability S.S.

  2. JLH

    JLH New Member

    I'm on disability. I worked 30 years prior to receiving disability. I am not able to work and therefore, do not know anything about working and maintaining your benefits.

    Even though they tell you that you can work and earn up to $800, I don't think I would try it unless you are prepared to lose your benefits and go back to work full time!

    If you want to try it, call your local SS ofc and tell them you would like to try to work 1-2 days a week and see what they tell you about your benefits and how it will affect it.

    If you lose them, I'm sure you will have to go thru the entire process of applying again.

    Oh ... my sister applied for benefits while she was only working a couple days a week ... she was not able but had to in order to put food on the table while awaiting her request for disability .... but since she was working, she was denied. She ended up not being able to work at all, was on welfare until it was exhausted, then the family supporting her until she was finally approved .. a total of 3 years after first applying. She had 2 total knee replacements, severe arthritiis all over body, COPD, etc.
  3. natrlvr2

    natrlvr2 New Member

    What they say and do are 2 different things. It says you can still get your benefits if you make under a certain amt.(like $800 or so)But after what I have been through(and still going through) never trust them.They may re-evaluate you and you may lose your benefits.
    SSA has lied and misinformed me since 1997.
  4. worried725

    worried725 New Member

    Thanks, for answering. Money is getting tight and I just thought I would try to work a day or two, but now I think I better not. I know I can't work full time and if they cut me off I would be in trouble.
  5. JLH

    JLH New Member

    think that that would probably be a wise move, even though things are tight. You'll just have to look for other ways to tighten the belt a little snugger!
  6. junal

    junal New Member

    Are you people on disability for a fibromyalgia diagnosis? I am 49 years old and have been out of work for about a month. I am being treated for Fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, and the disc in the bottom of my back is causing pain. I also have a rod fused on my spine since 1969 for scoliosis. I am really intimidated about the insurance process. Do you have advice for someone like me just getting started with the process?
  7. jan5473

    jan5473 New Member

    Hi Worried, I haven't been approved yet, but waiting for Hearing. I don't think I would try working and have to risk losing benefits. Maybe you could do some babysitting a day or two a week in your home. Or find some way of making some money on the side. That way you will be able to find out if you can really work at all or not.

    Best Wishes, Jan
  8. jan5473

    jan5473 New Member

    If I were you I would call the Social Security office and get the process started. Be prepared to wait a few years though, but make up your mind you are going through with the process.

    Someone can help you with the paper work. We fight and sturggle through our lives everyday, so it is well worth it to fight for what is due you. Go for it!!

    Good Luck, Jan
  9. junal

    junal New Member

    Not sure what is going to happen next but I know I have the help and support I need at home to go forward. Thanks
  10. JLH

    JLH New Member

    I am on SSDI (disability), but not for fibro alone. I have major heart problems, diabetes, severe arthritis, sleep apnea, fibro and cfs, a bad back with severe spinal stenosis, pinched nerves, degenerating disks, buldging disks, herniated disks, asthma, and a host of other ailments.

    In November of last year, I posted some info on the fibro board regarding applying for SSDI. Here is is below ... it will be helpful for you to read if you are considering applying for disability.

    I think you have to be disabled and off work for one year before you qualify. You could always go ahead and sign up now anyway, but it is rare to get it on the first application. It ususally takes 2 or 3 appeals and ends up being 2-3 years before you end up being approved.



    This is a long read, but I think you will find that it is worth it! It is very informative and will be helpful if you are considering filing for Social Security Disability here in the U.S.

    It was published in this month's "Arthritis Today" magazine and therefore, most references to the disability being filed for is arthritis.

    The Disability Maze
    by Amy Brayfield

    Disability cases are won and lost on the strength of the application. We'll help you through the process, step-by-step.

    Shawn Sluder knew it wasn't going to be easy to give up her job. She'd been an executive assistant for almost 10 years and loved the busy pace and constant multi-tasking her work required. But Sluder, 38, who has lupus and fibromyalgia, found herself struggling more and more to get her job done. After six months of collapsing onto her couch at night, running through all her time off and more than one breakdown in the office bathroom, Sluder had to accept the fact she couldn't keep doing her job. She took her doctor's advice and filed for disability. Four months later, she was denied.

    "As frustrating and embarrassing as it is to have to file for disability, it's about 10 times worse to have your claim denied," says Sluder. Almost 24 months after her initial application, Sluder is still fighting her way through the Social Security Administration (SSA)'s appeals process.

    She isn't alone. Of the approximately 1.5 million Americans who file for disability benefits every year, 65 percent are denied on their first try. Even people who aren't rejected often feel confused and overwhelmed by the process, which seems arcane at best and tortuous at worst. For people like Sluder, the system can seem designed specifically to batter their already fragile emotions, making a difficult situation even worse.

    "There have definitely been times when I feel like the SSA thinks I'm just trying to get a free ride," says Sluder.
    There's no magic spell to make applying for disability benefits suddenly easy, but you can reduce your frustration - and maybe even increase your chances of getting a fast approval - by understanding the process before you apply, says Bob Keck, an attorney with the national disability advocacy firm Allsup Inc.

    Alphabet Soup

    Scanning your disability application may bring on a headache as you try to make sense of the myriad forms with their alphabet soup of options. Is the Disability Report the same as the Symptom Questionnaire? What remarks go in section 9? And does the SSA really think you can finish this paperwork in the half-hour estimated completion time named on the application?

    The answer to that last question, at least, is no, says R.M. Bottger, a former Social Security disability specialist. "We used to joke that anybody who could actually fill out that disability report in half an hour automatically didn't qualify for disability," says Bottger.

    The application can be intimidating, but it's important, says Keck, who encourages his clients to focus most of their energy on the Disability Report. "The SSA uses the information in your application to evaluate your case at every stage of the process. Even on appeal, they'll compare the testimony you give on appeal to that first application."

    For someone with arthritis, the application can be even more important, says Bottger, because of the variation in arthritis symptoms. "Every case is different, but you have a pretty good upfront understanding of what limitations a person in a wheelchair has. Arthritis is different -- there's no 'basic' effect of arthritis. The burden is on the applicant to show that his arthritis is disabling."
    This may be why the application for disability is such a dichotomy: on one hand, a just-the-facts, fill-in-the-blanks form; on the other, a personal and infinitely variable story of the effects of arthritis on your life.

    It's important to keep both aspects in mind when you're filling out your application, says Keck.
    The emotional component is often most difficult. Most people with arthritis focus on staying positive, but working on your disability application means focusing on the things you can't do. Be too stoic or Pollyanna-ish, and your case manager won't have all the information she needs to evaluate your case.

    "I think that's where I went wrong," Sluder says. "I spent so much time trying to figure out how to keep doing things that I didn't want to say I couldn't do something."
    People like Sluder who've adapted their routines because of arthritis may no longer even notice the accommodations they've had to make. Keck recommends inviting a friend to watch you do a few household chores. "Seeing how your arthritis affects one task, it's easier for you to see the accommodations you make in other tasks, too," he says.

    It can be emotionally taxing to spend a lot of time dwelling on your limitations. Try not to work on your application for more than a few hours at a time -- it's OK if it takes you a week or so to complete it - and keep in mind the reason you're going through the process at all is to get the support you need to live a better, healthier life.

    Inside the Application

    Bottger and Keck agree that the part of your application that deserves the most attention is the Disability Report, a 16-page, nine-section form in which you describe your arthritis (or other illnesses), its symptoms and effects on your work."

    When I denied an application, it was because it lacked compelling medical or vocational evidence. The disability report is where you can give that information," says Bottger.

    The secret to success is simply knowing what information your SSA representative is really looking for in each section, says Keck. We asked our experts to take us through the Disability Report, section by section, to help you make the most of your application.

    Section 1 -- Information About the Disabled Person

    Why they're asking: The SSA needs this basic information -- your address, Social Security number, etc. -- to contact you and request case information. The SSA also uses it to see if you qualify for special programs based on your age or weight.

    What you should know: This section asks you to provide a personal, or non-work, reference familiar with your condition. Think carefully about who you choose, says Keck. The best choice is someone who's seen the impact of arthritis (or your other illnesses) on your life and who is close enough to share your struggles with. It's OK to pick a family member. Give the person you choose a heads-up that the SSA may contact her about your case, says Keck.

    Section 2 -- Your Illness, Injuries or Conditions and How They Affect You

    Why they're asking: The SSA needs to understand two things to evaluate your case: what your condition is, and how it affects your ability to work. This section connects the two.

    What you should know: Both Keck and Bottger recommend answering this important section last.

    The key here, says Keck, is to break down your job, task by task, to explaining how your condition limits your ability to do it. Say you're a customer service representative, and part of your job is filing order records. To do this, you must label folders; kneel, reach, bend and stoop to file; occasionally carry 10- to 15-pound boxes of file folders to restock your supply; etc. Break down each task into its specific components, then explain how arthritis (or your other illnesses) makes each one a challenge: kneeling, reaching, bending and stooping are painful because, for example, osteoarthritis (OA) in your hips and knees makes bending at the knees and waist difficult. Do this for every task.

    Section 3 -- Information About Your Work

    Why they're asking: Knowing what tasks your job regularly requires helps the SSA decide how your arthritis (or other illnesses) affects your ability to do that job.

    What you should know: Remember your job title doesn't necessarily reflect your actual responsibilities, says Keck. One insurance customer service representative may do little more than field incoming calls; another might stock office supplies, visit claim sites and do the office filing. Explain the specific responsibilities of your position. Keep in mind, too, that the more specialized your position, the more likely it is your representative might believe you can continue working -- in another position, says Bottger. If your job is highly specialized, highlight its more universal facets, such as sitting, standing, walking, carrying, bending, and so on.

    Section 4 -- Information About Your Medical Records

    Why they're asking: You can provide copies of your medical records, but the SSA requests its own copies from your doctors, using the information in this section.

    What you should know: Make sure all the information is correct so your application doesn't get delayed, says Bottger. He also recommends writing in each doctor's specialty on the space beside his name, even though the application doesn't ask for it.

    Section 5 -- Medications

    Why they're asking: Before granting disability, the SSA confirms you've tried medical intervention.

    What you should know: List your current meds, plus all medications you've tried, whether they worked or not, says Keck.

    Section 6 -- Tests

    Why they're asking: The SSA looks for a test to confirm your diagnosis - for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it's usually a blood test; for OA, an X-ray.

    What you should know: If you have a form of arthritis, such a fibromyalgia, that doesn't have an accepted diagnostic test, make sure your medical records include tests to support your condition's symptoms, says Bottger. The presence of several symptoms that aren't debilitating on their own can be considered debilitating when they co-exist.

    Section 7 -- Educational/Training Information

    Why they're asking: Understanding your education and professional experience helps the SSA determine other jobs you might be able to do.

    What you should know: This section is important for borderline applications, says Bottger. The more specialized your experience, the less likely it is that the SSA will recommend you try another form of employment before reapplying.

    Section 8 -- Vocational Rehabilitation, Employment or Other Support Services Information

    Why they're asking: The SSA considers what steps you've tried to continue working.

    What you should know: The younger you are, the harder it is to prove you can't work at any job, says Bottger. People younger than 55 must show that they can't work even at a mostly sedentary job. Participating in a vocational rehab program can show the SSA how your limitations really do impair your ability to work at any job. And -- of course -- there's always the chance that a rehab program might be able to help you find a job you can actually do.

    Section 9 -- Remarks

    Why they're asking: As big as the application is, you might run out of room on some sections. Section 9 lets you continue information from other sections.

    What you should know: Many people find they need more space to list their medications and on-the-job challenges than the form provides, and it's better to continue in section nine than to leave out important information.

    The Aftermath

    Most disability applications are determined within five months. If your claim is denied, you may start the process over by appealing for reconsideration. If it's accepted, you may wonder, "What's next?"

    Filing for disability can be so time-consuming and emotionally draining that you don't have time to deal with the implications of not working. In a society where people define themselves by their careers and many view "disability" and "laziness" as synonyms, it's hard to cope with the personal and social pressures of being unemployed. No wonder 40 percent of people report feeling depressed after being awarded disability benefits.

    Sheryl Cohen-Alexander, 48, who applied for disability in 1990, wasn't prepared for the sadness she felt when her application was accepted. "It finally hit me what being on disability really meant."

    Cohen-Alexander didn't want to sit around feeling sorry for herself. Cohen-Alexander has the right idea, says Keck, who asks his clients to plan for their lives post-disability and to stay active during the application process. "It can consume you if you let it," says Keck. "So don't let it."

    Are You Ready for Disability?

    Ask yourself these questions before you decide to file:

     Are you working? You must have been unable to work for at least a year or show that you won't be able to work for at least a year before applying for disability. If you earn more than $810 each month, even if you can't work full-time, you're not eligible for benefits.

     Does your arthritis (or other illnesses) make it impossible for you to do basic job tasks? Your arthritis (or other illnesses) must be severe enough to limit your ability to perform the basic tasks that most jobs require, such as standing, reaching, sitting, carrying and walking.

     Do your limitations keep you from doing your specific job? If you can continue to do your job, even if you're in pain while you're doing it, you're not eligible for disability benefits.

     Are there any other jobs you can do? Just because your arthritis (or other illnesses) keeps you from continuing work as, say, a construction foreman, does not automatically mean you can't do a more sedentary job. The SSA will consider your work history, age, education and physical limitations to determine what other work you can perform.

     Does your diagnosis match the Social Security Administration (SSA)'s medical listing? The SSA's Blue Book lists the criteria for disability for all medical conditions. For rheumatoid arthritis (RA), for example, the Blue Book says applicants must show persistent pain, swelling and limited joint mobility to qualify.

    The Appeals Cycle

    Only about 35 percent of applicants are APPROVED for disability benefits on their first try. If you're denied, you enter another maze: the appeals process. If your initial application is DENIED, you can file for reconsideration.


    Reconsideration is basically just resubmitting your application, but you should take the opportunity to make sure you're being as specific as possible on the sections describing your condition and limitations. Your claim can be APPROVED or DENIED. If it's denied, you can appeal.

    Administrative Judge Law Hearing

    At this local hearing, you can give testimony in person. The judge can APPROVE, Deny or REMAND your case back to reconsideration. If it's denied, you can appeal.

    Appeals Council

    You must appear before the Appeals Council in person. They can APPROVE, Deny or REMAND your case back to the Administrative JUDGE. If the council denies your claim, you can appeal.

    Federal District Court

    As a last resort, you can appeal outside the SSA's jurisdiction in Federal District Court. This is your final appeal -- if your claim is denied here, you have no more appeal options.

    ****End of Article****

  11. s246

    s246 New Member

    You mentioned this book as listing the criteria that the SSA uses to determine if your situation warrents the award of SSDI. Where can I obtain a copy of this book to review? I would prefer to see if my situation meets their criteria before I go through all the paperwork, time & effort (probably have to hire & pay an attorney also)to find out that my current situation does not meet their criteria. To go through all that, fight for it for years & then find out that there is one thing they are looking for that I &/or my doctors failed to document would be devistating emotionally, physically & probably financially. As you know stress & frustration just aggravate the Fibro condition.
    Thanks for any assistance you can give.
  12. Gritt46

    Gritt46 New Member

    Hi Jan well you better get prepared for a fight or anybody in that matter, that is if they want their ssa or ssi. Well i finally won the battle of fighting for my ssa and ssi. It took me 6 long years, iam legally blind, have little vision in my left eye 20/200 and the right eye 20/400. I have high blood pressure, depression, asthma, ischemic brain disease. It was a struggle the judge paid me back from 2001-2005, i guess it was worth the fight. Not only that i take a ton of meds, neurotin, effexor, 2 high blood pressure meds, northyline, and advair for my asthma. The only thing i have to say to anyone and everyone is GOOD LUCK! talk to everyone later, and hope to meet everyone soon! Ruth

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