How to get Social Security Benefits….
AnonymousJuly 31, 2006 at 4:36 pm
If you do a keyword search on social security on this forum, I’ve posted previously some important resources that could help you. You need remain focussed and clear in your answers, quantifying how many times he can stand, how many steps he can take, how much rest (for how long) before he can resume the activities. Also, they will be looking at his activities of daily living … can he bathe, feed, cook, wash clothes, breathe, talk, walk, etc. and for how long, then compare this with what is required for his job. You may find it easiest to sit with the neurologist with the social security papers in hand so he/she can ask questions, testing grip strength, etc. with you present before answering the questions.
There is an appeal process, that you must now follow to do this, since he was initially denied. Getting copies of your medical records, hospitalizations, specific tests related to the disease process and attaching them to the appeal documents might help you with the appeal.
The post-polio institute with Dr. Richard Bruno’s help, has a lot of great information on how to gain entry to these benefits with very similar functional limitations. He has been a regular contributor to New Mobility Magazine in a monthly column that you will also find helpful in your quest for benefits. The Independent Living Centers (look in the government white pages of your phone book) also provide much needed advocacy assistance to patients with GBS/CIDP.
Finally, don’t forget the Muscular Dystrophy Association, as this can be a great resouce for referrals, resoruces, and adaptive equipment if you can’t afford it yourself.
August 1, 2006 at 1:18 pm
There is a book at my public library called Nolo’s guide to SS benefits. it isn’t a magical book but it is full of wonderful information. it gives very good advice on how to file and more impo0rtantly, what to do should one be denied. It simplified the process for me by breaking it down into layman’s terms so I felt more confident in filing.
For example, I didn’t initially include anything about my treatments. But then I realized after reading the book (it gave chemo as an example) is that treatments alone made working nearly impossible. Not many employers would hire me to work 3 weeks out of the month and give me a week off for the treatment and side-effects that I encounter after each treatment.
Also, the doctor’s notes along with the nurse’s note from the infusion center seemed to very helpful. They were better to write in medical jargon what this illness is and what it does to the body. Since CIDP is pretty much unheard of, I think their letters gave a brief but thorough description of the illness.
AnonymousAugust 8, 2006 at 11:53 am
I found a local SSI attorney on the web, after meeting him once and providing him with some information my work was done as he appealed for me and did all paperwork. We had to attend a hearing with an administrative judge, the lawyer did most of the speaking and I was approved.
Find a lawyer that specializes in dealing with SSI appeals and all that is involved. I think my lawyer ended up costing me $ 4,000, but it came out of my retroactive SSI money and was well worth it.
AnonymousAugust 9, 2006 at 11:19 am
The process is excrutiatingly slow being that is the pace the govt. works at. My Neuro whom has overseen everything from the beginning wrote explaining everything and that my condition would not allow me to work for more then 12 months. I don’t want to discourage you but it took me almost 2 years from hospitalization with CIDP until I started getting my monthly checks, I am still waiting for my retroactive check which is due “anytime”. Be persistant, also there are usually local and county resources for help in the meantime.
AnonymousAugust 10, 2006 at 11:20 pm
I believe what Jeremy said is very good advice. I am in the same boat as your husband. My attourney has filed the appeal, but stated the final outcome is most likely 12 – 18 months in the future. He also stated that if you have an illness that makes it impossible to work 4 – 5 days a month, that you are completely disabled for all work. I am confident that we will prevail in the end, but for now we wait.
AnonymousAugust 11, 2006 at 11:54 pm
I got my disability benefits ater a first denial. The total time from application through first denial to acceptance for me was 8 months. I had the support of my neuro, Vocational Rehab, test scores, etc. I did not hire an attorney.
The most important piece of paper you have now is the denial reply. In that document, they identify all of the reasons the initial application was denied. You have to answer those objections, and prove your case. If you get a second denial, you need to go before the judge and need an attorney there. If you already acquired the services of an attorney, he should know all of the ropes to help you through.
Good luck. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me
AnonymousAugust 12, 2006 at 11:38 am
Thank you Dick, for pointing out what I’ve been telling people for years. Hopefully, more will listen. Social Security gives you the ANSWERS to the test, before, and when denied. People here, have paid thousands of dollars out of their own pocket to have a lawyer read the answer, then go win their case. Each person doesn’t even have a clue as to why or how they won. When I was denied, I simply turned over the denial notice, read the answer, which told me what they were missing and needed to complete the case, went to my doctor, got documentation on just that one point only, submitted it, and it flew right on threw. No more, no less. CIDP cases are more complicated due to the nature of the disease, but it’s just choice on weather a person wants to do the work themselves, or have a SS lawyer do it for 25% of the retroactive take.
AnonymousAugust 12, 2006 at 4:34 pm
Yes, I understand Jerimy. It also says your case wasn’t even close to being a norm, as SS cases go. A lot more complicated involving more then just CIDP. Standard AMA lawyer fees for handling SS cases, across the nation, is 25% of the retroactive. That’s all I know. Your’s obviously exceeded that, and the lawyer new it might hit the cap, and that’s the chance they take. You said in the lower post that you are still waiting for your retroactive check, after you have been getting monthly checks in the post before that. Normal SS proceedure, is retroactive payments are the first check a person recieves electronically into their account, like happened with mine and many others. By your time frame of 2 years getting this, which I may not have right, and the figures provided above, that makes you getting $4000 a month from SS. I didn’t know they paid that well. Warren Buffet gets the same SS amount I do every month. Interesting. Maybe it extends back further and that’s just SS time from a later filing. I’m trying to point out how not to over complicate the SS system, and a persons own case in trying to get it. You throw all these extreme SS cases at a person, saying this is the norm, and that complicates things furthur in my opinion. One disease, one application to SS, I may be able to help some. Mulitpul phisical and medical complications entering into the mix outside of GBS/CIDP and I’m lost. That’s what you are for. There will always be exceptions to the rules.
AnonymousAugust 12, 2006 at 5:37 pm
Yes, I understand Jerimy. It also says your case wasn’t even close to being a norm, as SS cases go. A lot more complicated involving more then just CIDP. Standard AMA lawyer fees for handling SS cases, across the nation, is 25% of the retroactive. That’s all I know. Your’s obviously exceeded that, and the lawyer new it might hit the cap, and that’s the chance they take. You said in the lower post that you are still waiting for your retroactive check, after you have been getting monthly checks in the post before that. Normal SS proceedure, is retroactive payments are the first check a person recieves electronically into their account, like happened with mine and many others. By your time frame of 2 years getting this, which I may not have right, and the figures provided above, that makes you getting $4000 a month from SS. I didn’t know they paid that well. Warren Buffet gets the same SS amount I do every month. Interesting. Maybe it extends back further and that’s just SS time from a later filing. I’m trying to point out how not to over complicate the SS system, and a persons own case in trying to get it. You throw all these extreme SS cases at a person, saying this is the norm, and that complicates things furthur in my opinion. One disease, one application to SS, I may be able to help some. Mulitpul phisical and medical complications entering into the mix outside of GBS/CIDP and I’m lost. That’s what you are for. There will always be exceptions to the rules.[/quote]
As I was told, normal SSI procedure is to submit the retroactive money to the State and the State pays the claimant. Why this is, I am not sure. I have been recieving the monthly checks less then a year. My lawyer just got his $4,000 in April at which time my money was sent to the state of Michigan. I am owed about 2.5 years of retroactive. Here is the info. from the SSI site:
‘The fee specified in the agreement does not exceed the lesser of 25 percent of the past-due benefits or $5,300. (For fee agreements approved before February 1, 2002, this maximum dollar limit was $4,000.) The $5,300 ceiling also applies to concurrent titles II and XVI claims or to post entitlement actions with a common issue. For example, in concurrent titles II and XVI disability claims, SSA will not approve an agreement that calls for a fee greater than 25 percent of the combined titles II and XVI past-due benefits amount or $5,300.”
(Link deleted by administration)
Not sure what you mean about everyone getting the same amount of benefit checks. I paid into SS for 20+ years at whatever rate they withhold, they base your check on what you paid in, Warren Buffet will get alot more then me. Is there some confusion caused by me because I get SSI/SSD?
AnonymousAugust 25, 2006 at 12:26 am
And all you have to do is get the doc to say just that. You will be disabled longer then a year. File nothing more, or nothing less. They told you exactly what they want from you, and that everything else is just fine. One paragraph from my doc, on one piece of paper, was all it took for me to get things sailing, because they gave me the answer to the test too. If you filed an appeal without that statement, you just extended your troubles out another year.
AnonymousAugust 25, 2006 at 11:03 pm
That was one of the things they told me in my first denial. Because CIDP is relapse/remitting in many cases, they don’t view it as a 12 month disabling condition. You are better in between relapse times. Therefore it is not 12 continuous months. You just need to prove that your disabling attributes are permanent, above and beyond the CIDP cycles. If you have a Doctor that will support this fact, a letter from him to this effect should suffice.
As you say, chronic does mean never goes away, you just need to prove that his situation is indeed permanent.
I supported my position, and was approved soon thereafter.
AnonymousAugust 26, 2006 at 1:02 am
To add to Dick’s post, also keep in mind they are asking for a prognoses from your doctor. Will this person be disabled longer then 12 months. Not even a doctor can see into the future, and why prognoses aren’t fact. They don’t view GBS as permanent either. The doc knows your cycles and condition and a person can’t go on agin, off agin, in the work force. Most general disabilities clear up in 4 months, hence the waiting period they require from everybody in the beginning. After 5 months, they say, ok, this person is disabled. The next question is for how long, which nobody knows. Your disease is not going away in 12 months, and it disables you. That ain’t going away either. Sounds continuos to me.
AnonymousAugust 28, 2006 at 9:54 pm
[B]Social workers[/B] within medical service providers offer access to important resource information in your geographic area. There are a number of [B]blogs[/B] on the net that specifically deal with Social Security and other specific disability benefit programs (like Yahoo). [B]Local libraries[/B] have special areas to assist people with disabilities in searching for information (like this). [B]A good librarian [/B]could be a precious resource in digging up the information you are seeking as you go through the process of adapting following GBS.
Disability Program Navigator
Career One-Stop Center
AnonymousAugust 28, 2006 at 10:07 pm
[B]Social Security[/B] has a [B]benefit assessment tool [/B]that you can access online at: [url]https://s044a90.ssa.gov/apps12/best/benefits/[/url]
Your local [B]Bar Association[/B] can refer you to attorneys specializing in Social Security appeals.
[B]The Independent Living Centers[/B] (located in the Government pages of your phone book) may be able to help you with your advocacy needs regarding Social Security and other disability related issues.
Additionally, [B]Disability Program Navigators [/B](seated in One-Stop Employment Centers around the country) can also direct you to resources for obtaining Social Security benefits, including training, employment, accommodation and other transitional services following a disability.
Disability Program Navigator
Career One-Stop Center
AnonymousAugust 29, 2006 at 11:20 am
My claim for SSDI was approved on the first try, thirty days after my in-person interview with SSA. I followed the recommendations of many on this forum whose advice I greatly appreciate. I also spent a lit of time preparing for the interview by filling out the forms SSA sent me (also available on line).
Here’s what I did: 1) scheduled the appointment for 5 months after I had to stop working; 2) collected all the relevant medical records from my doctors and made copies to submit at the interview; 3) submitted letters from two of my docs explaining my impairments and how they prevent me from working and that my condition is not expected to improve for at least two years, if ever; 4) compiled lists of all my Rx meds, names of prescribing physicians and what the meds are for; 5) compiled a list of all the physicians, hospitals, and IVIg providers that have treated me in the last four years; 6) provided a list of all my jobs in the past 15 years with descriptions of exactly what I did in each.
I also provided an explanation of CIDP that was posted on this forum along with an explanation of IVIg and my schedule of infusions (every two weeks).
I think having all of this information typed up made it easier for SSA and the state disability determination agency to get the full picture.
AnonymousAugust 29, 2006 at 3:37 pm
Great news! See how easy it is? Nothing to it.(yea,right):) All that answered just what they want to hear. Are you disabled-yes. Will you be disabled longer then 12 months-yes. Can you preform meaningful work-no. Can you work at all-no. Basic qualifiers that trip up so many of us. Job well done and a great effort.
AnonymousAugust 29, 2006 at 7:40 pm
I also was approved on first application. I actually typed a concise one-page letter that described my disabilities, and stated that although my condition may or may not improve slightly over next twelve months because of treatments, in all regards I will be unable to perform work for next 12 months minimum. My doctor photocopied my letter onto his letterhead, and happily signed it.
Additionally, I submitted a monthly strength chart my doctor compiled, showing 12 previous months history of increasing disability.
I am 44 years old, with a career consisting of management consulting and project management. I also received benefits for my two children. It was much easier than I imagined, but it requires a supportive physician and submitting materials that prove the basic points that SSA is looking for.
AnonymousAugust 29, 2006 at 7:48 pm
I also want to add I DID NOT have an in-person interview. They sent me a questionnaire addressing “fatigue”, which I filled out in my practically illegible hand writing. I found the choice of “fatigue” interesting for their questionnaire, almost like maybe it was a trap? Although I do experience great fatigue, I labelled it paralysis and/or extreme muscle weakness due to nerve damage in my questionnaire, not simply saying, “yes, I’m fatigued.”
In any regard, I was awarded full benefits for myself and children, with the earliest review in three years.
AnonymousAugust 30, 2006 at 9:06 am
Keep in mind, the number one and two complaint, heard by all doctors, and SS too, is back pain, or pain in general, and fatigue, in our society. Everybodies tired these days, right? Everybody has a pain somewhere. Why it’s so hard for us ligit patients to first get those 2 cemented with the doctor, let alone a gov. agency.
Social Security is really just this simple. All they want, is to know if you qualify for the program, and if so, you’re in. Has very, very, little to do with ‘what’ is bringing a person into the system, if at all. Look at every single denial, that hasn’t been complicated by several issues, instead of one disease, and when broken down, it’s always the qualifiers.
AnonymousOctober 24, 2006 at 7:38 pm
One thing I don’t understand. I don’t have the money to be out of work for 12 months with no income whatsoever. I have short term disability that is good for 26 weeks but barely pays anything. I have been forcing myself to work as much as possible and fortunately I can work at home alot too so I can fake it. I cant even get long term disability because of my diagnosis. What I want to know is, how will it affect me or my chances if I go ahead and apply for SSDI when I first go out completely on Std knowing that I am not going back to work. (and with supporting documentation and dr statements, etc. of course.) Has anyone else gone ahead and applied while they were still working or when they first went out on Std or LTD (I notice most people say they are out of work for quite some time before applying)
AnonymousOctober 24, 2006 at 8:26 pm
I was approved in full on first application, with no interview – here is my understanding of the process. You can apply for disability immediately upon becoming disabled, as long as you prove via supporting evidence that you will be unable to perform work from that date forward for a minimum of 12 months. If things go without any hitches and you are approved, there is still a six month elimination period. In other words, if you apply and state you became disabled on January 1st, once you are approved, you will receive benefits commencing June.
It is a stringent, yet straightforward criteria to meet – are you unable to perform any work for a minimum of 12 months.
Good luck to you
AnonymousOctober 24, 2006 at 9:27 pm
Thank you so much. That helps alot Billt. By the way, my background is similar to yours, the last job I am working at now is Project Management but I have found that I can’t think straight anymore. Don’t know if it is the treatments or the illness itself because of being so weak and tired all the time. And it is almost impossible for me to sit for long periods of time with my legs at the angle sitting in a desk chair requires. thanks for clearing that up for me about the 6 mo. waiting period. I also have a 14 year old son. When you say you got benefits for your kids too, did you mean medicare/medicaid or can you qualify for additional disability to help support the kids? This is allso confusing for me.
AnonymousOctober 25, 2006 at 12:45 pm
When you fill out the SSDI application online, you are asked if you have dependant children. If so, you simply enter the basic data. Then, about 4 months later we received a brief set of paperwork to fill out. Once you are approved, if you have dependant children, they may also receive benefits that can total up to around 1/2 of your benefit.
AnonymousOctober 27, 2006 at 4:54 pm
$860 rule. If I am disable for a year but lets say I have a hobby that cannot bring me substantial earned income as they call it, can I sell my crafts as long as I keep it under $860 a month WHILE I am on ssdi without sacrificing anything? Just to try to somehow supplement my income when possilbe to do around my disabilities?
AnonymousOctober 28, 2006 at 11:05 am
Do you have a copy of the letter you used to get your dr to sign or some template maybe that I can use. Since I can;t figure out a way to print the SSDI app so I can use that as a rule of thumb of what to put it in. I know you said you had put together a great letter and your dr signed it happily on his letterhead. I am going to be taKING STD first so I have to have a letter from the dr for that and then when I apply shortly after I go on STD for the SSDI, I need another good letter for the dr. Can you provide me maybe with a copy of yours so I can see what all types of things you put in it? That would give me a great start since my mind is so confused and messed up right now I cant even think straight.
AnonymousOctober 31, 2006 at 6:48 am
Back in 2000 I was diagnosed only with a peripheral neuropathy and fought for two years and finally got SSD at the administrative judge level armed with affidavits from EVERYONE including from three neurologists, former employers, friends, social workers, minister, and anyone who could establish credibility.
One thing I learned is that you absolutely must describe your difficulty working in terms of the WORST DAY you have as this is what keeps you from working. With the patterms of remitting and relapsing symptoms you must do this or the “GOOD” days when symptoms are remitting where you do more…will be used against you.
But the affidavits worked. The following is the guidance on doing an affidavit. The JUDGE in approving my request quoted from them.
AFFIDAVITS (Written by a disability lawyer in 2001)
In a social security disability claim, the credibility of the client is often the determining factor of whether the claim is approved or denied. For cases involving chronic pain or fatigue, such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome (I add neuropathy symptoms and pain), the credibility of the client is usually crucial to success. The reason for this of course is due to the fact that those diagnoses involve subjective symptoms and limitations that usually cannot be objectively quantified by medical or laboratory tests.
Thus, SSA and judges will listen to the client’s story about why they are unable to work due to the frequency, severity and duration of their symptoms; but they will also look for corroborating evidence from other sources such as doctors or individuals who know the client.
As you may know, my practice is exclusively disability law and I specialize in chronic pain and fatigue cases representing clients throughout the United States. Over the past several years I have been very successful in winning disability cases before SSA and judges throughout the United States. While winning hundreds of cases and losing only a small percentage of them, I have learned a great deal about how to win chronic pain and fatigue disability cases as well as the importance of a client’s credibility.
A tool I have used extensively for the past several years is to obtain affidavits or statements from a client’s former co-worker (or preferably a supervisor), family member or long-time friends (I have added neighbor, social worker who knows you, Chaplain/Rabbi/Minister who knows you, your primary physician, and your specialist (Neurologist for PN). I have discovered that doctors are too busy to listen and often do not accurately write in the medical records or do not have time to do so, what you told them or who answer loaded criteria that the SSA uses, that may or may not be relevant to your disease, symptoms, and pain.) What is an affidavit? It is simply a notarized document that essentially is a narrative letter regarding a person’s observations of problems the client has functioning on a daily basis due to the symptoms and limitations, with a conclusion that they are unable to work in any occupation as a result. In my opinion, it is essential that SSA and a judge have corroborating evidence from those who know a client the best and the affidavit performs that function.
Because I view a client’s credibility as paramount to the case, I want to protect it, develop it and support it from as many different independent sources as possible. The quality of the affidavits or the statements and from whom they are from matters more than having a large volume of them by people who do not know the client well.
I know thoughtful affidavits have a big impact on SSA and judges because I have seen countless judges from all over the country reference them as a reason why they approved my client’s claim. I have also talked with judges after a hearing and they have told me the affidavits provided persuasive support of my client’s allegations regarding their limitations.
It must be noted that it is unlikely an affidavit alone will win a disability case; but along with other corroborating medical records and doctor’s opinions it can be a powerful tool. Use this article as a foundation for developing this important part of your claim.
Tip #1: The affidavit should be brief.
To avoid lulling weary SSA personnel or a judge to sleep, I believe the affidavit should be no more than two (2) pages in length. Please remember your file will contain several hundreds of pages of records. .. your want the affidavit to be read and be factored into your claim.
Tip #2: The affidavit should be on regular paper and be Notarized.
The document itself can be on any regular paper (preferably 8 ½ x 11 inches), preferably typewritten and should be titled “Affidavit”. However, any paper will do and a handwritten one is better than nothing. It should be notarized because this will confirm that the person who purported to draft the affidavit actually signed it before a notary public. The notary stamp and signature should go at the end of the text and after the signature.
Tip #3: The content of the affidavit is critical.
The contents of the affidavit determine whether it is a piece of evidence that will be persuasive in the case. The affidavit should always conclude with a sentence that the client is unable to engage in any occupation and due to what reasons.
The contents should be organized by paragraph, numbered and should discuss the following in a separate paragraph or less: The background of the person making the affidavit (i.e. occupational status and title, address, phone number); how long they have known the client and in what capacity (i.e. employer, friend, Chaplain, doctor, and how they met (family, work, friends), and how often they have in person or telephone contact; discuss what the client’s activity/work (work ethic) level was like before they became unable to work.
The bulk of the affidavit and several paragraphs should be devoted to discussing the physical or psychological changes that the client exhibited at the time they last worked (i.e. observations of chronic pain and fatigue, symptoms and use of aids such as cane/wheelchair, spending days in bed, dramatic changes in appearance, lack of stamina, absences from work, being unreliable, danger of falling or injury to others due to symptoms, discuss the physical limitations they have (the ability to sit, stand, walk, or do anything for only short periods of time); a medical treatment/medications/therapy they have tried without success; discuss how limited they are in activities of daily living.
The last two (2) paragraphs must conclude with a statement that due to the above discussed reasons the client is not able to work in any occupation and that you are willing to discuss your affidavit with the judge if necessary.
Tip #4: How many affidavits should you obtain?
With regard to quantity, less is better, the nature of the relationship with the client (how long known) and content of the affidavit are the issues. I like to obtain as many as we can from former co-workers or supervisors. Then I like to obtain one from a spouse or long-time significant other, family members, (I have added your doctors), and then finally long-time friends. Generally, the complete story of the client can be told with three (3) or at most four (4) affidavits from those people who know them best.
Best of luck in your pursuit of disability benefits and remember never to quit!
AnonymousNovember 1, 2006 at 2:30 pm
Regarding the cover letter, I do not have a copy of it in electronic form anymore, but it is basically titled as an “Updated statement of condition/prognosis.”
It simply states that patient (me) has experienced a rather acute deterioration since last exam, despite aggressivve new treatment protocol.
Then, the disabilities are outl;ined in a short bulleted list (flaccid bi-lateral wrist drop, bi-lateral foot drop, leg paralysis, severe double vision, etc – patient cannot use hands, walk without extreme difficulty, etc…
Then, letter states that patient may improve slightly, or become further disabled over next 12 months, but in all regards, is unable to perform work for the next 12 months.
Then, the next sheet of paper was the doctor’s chart detailing my muscle strength grading scores for previous 12 months, on the 1-5 scale.
These two items are probably about as far as they (SSD) would have needed to look in terms of medical evidence/records. The basic evidence of disability was documented, and irrefutable, and proved the criteria necessary for approval.
Hope this helps.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.