What is the first step to SSI/SSA?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by daylight, Mar 15, 2006.

  1. daylight

    daylight New Member

    This is such a hard question for me being that I love what I do for a living. It's just that over the last year I have been so sick and in so much pain it hard to continue working at my best. I help the elderly and it hurt so much to even consider have to stop . They are my family . Every day I drive to work praying that I can see the road clearly and not black out at the wheel. I work in consant pain and can't tell anyone. I'm sick all the time because I work in a nursing home . If I tell me Boss that I am sick her response is alway "well your sick all the time","Is this your way of telling me in advance that you are going to leave early?","Sounds like an excuse for leaving early and letting the office down". I know it's sounds crazy but I love helping others. If I do decided to go on SSI or SSA can I work sometimes ? Volunteer maybe? They decision is crushing me. Any suggestions would be so appreciated. I have been a Christian for 32 year now and giving is just not who I am.
  2. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    I came across a web site that had basic info on applying for Soc. Sec. Of course I wrote down the address. Do you think I can find it now? Of course not. W/ my brain fog I'm lucky if I can find the computer.

    The most important point which I have read several times is, get an attorney. Your odds of being approved for benefits go way up. The Soc. Sec. Administration is very reluctant to hand out benefits.

    ____________

    OK, I think if you search for Advice for Social Security you will find some help.

    Good luck.


    [This Message was Edited on 03/16/2006]
  3. lovethesun

    lovethesun New Member

    I worked with infants and got to see them grow.You get very attached to them.When I had to leave I took pictures.Good luck with you decision.Linda
  4. 69mach1

    69mach1 New Member

    get info...and ssa.gov...more info...call our local ssa office st appt to file...

    jodie
  5. jaltair

    jaltair New Member

    Your predicament sounds a lot like mine. I'm trying to "hang in there" for about 1 1/2 years, and each day I wonder if I can. I also love my job as a nurse. My calling as a Christian is to work with people who are in such need, physically. Now, I'm in need - it is harder to take care of "you" than it is to take care of others who have need.

    I, too, am in pain every day. When I get home, I hurt sooo much that it's hard to explain to anyone anymore. Everything that is a symptom will show up when I'm home. Clothes hurt to the touch of my underarms, tender points hurt, every muscle aches, my head hurts, etc., etc. I don't know if I can "hang in there."

    Depending on what state you live in may make a difference. I live in CA, and am able to collect disability for a time if I get more ill than I am (or possibly am even right now).

    Disability in CA isn't your whole income if you work, but a percentage and would help. It will also let you not work to satisfy the criteria of the SSA for disability.

    You sound like you are in so much pain, and I know the type of work that you do must involve a lot of physical movement and lifting. Please take care of yourself as good as I know that you care for those elderly patients. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers as you make a decision.

    Love, Jeannette
  6. JLH

    JLH New Member

    The first step is to get an application from your SSA office. You can also complete your application via telephone, but I, personally, would rather have the questions in front of me and be able to think about them for a while. You can also call the SSA for an application.

    After you turn in your application, that will start the ball rolling. You will get other forms from them for you to complete. They will also send you to their doctor and maybe their psychologist.

    I think you have to have not worked for 6 months to a year before they consider you disabled. If you are still working full time when you file, you will probably be turned down. It would be best to call the SSA and talk with someone on how that works, especially if you will not be able to make it for a year without working.

    Most people are turned down the first time and have to try 2 or 3 times before they get it. When you file, make sure you include every thing in the world that is wrong with you!!

    You do not have to get a lawyer on the first time just to file the application. I didn't. In fact, I was one of the rare people who got it on their first try, without a lawyer. I got it 4 months after I turned in my application. But, I have a million things wrong with me!! LOL

    Hugs,
    Janet
  7. JLH

    JLH New Member

    The Disability Maze - Article re Filing for Disability

    Note: this article is about someone with arthritis applying for disability. The same can be applied to fibromyalgia or CFS.


    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

    Insider Tip: Apply in Person

    Are You Ready for Disability?

    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

    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 Falls Church, Va. 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.



  8. daylight

    daylight New Member

    Sorry that I didn't write sooner. I had to go to court on Wed.. My ex-husband doesn't want to pay any child support.My children lost $75 a month but he still has to pay 303.00. The next day I had to see my doctor. My back is in flamed and my right ankle is huge. Doc wants me to see a "neuro" to rule out possible siezures. He put me on five days bed rest which means that I missed one day of work. I was supposed to be of work yesterday but my boss was being a jerk. When I got to work I found a crouch be my chair.Both my boss and coworker mocked me. When my boss asked for my Doctor not she replied "so this is confidential","by law your employer has to know the reason you are out sick". I told her that I did. She then said well it must be more. Then she remarker "You must have AIDS!"I then said that she was making way to much of this and told them that I would see them on Monday.
    When does this nightmare end? They are going to work me into the ground. I have told them that I wish I didn't get sick all the time but I don't know how to solve this problem.
    Thank you all for your support. D.
  9. JLH

    JLH New Member

    You poor dear, you are being harrassared by your boss.

    You probably work at a small company and you can't do anything about it.

    If you work at a large enough company, you should have your doctor complete papers to have all of your time off coded for FMLA.

    You might also want to inform your doctor how your boss and coworker are acting -- it may affect what she writes on your return to work statement to that jerk!!!! I would call your boss something else, but profanity isn't permitted!!!! LOL

    I'm sorry that your children lost $75/month from their uncaring father. Contact Social Services and inform them, maybe your food stamps could be increased now--if you are on assistance.

    Hugs,
    Janet