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khaarina

Applying For Disability (Ssd, Ssi)

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Been too sick to work for 2 years now, I think it is time to suck it up and apply for disability. I think I should qualify for both SSD and SSI. Any tips or suggestions from those who have been through the process?

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I had lawyer from the start. That helped me out a lot. If you are in the US the most any disability lawyer can get if you are awarded disability is $6000. It is not hourly or based on a percentage of your award. Also, get your doctor's on board with what you are doing. You will need their help completely paperwork at some point. Good clinic notes and test records along with documentation showing the consistency of your symptoms is helpful. It is a long process. Fortunately, I was able to get approved in a year. You are trying to approve your inability to perform gainful activity. Definition is on Ssd website. Hope this helps.

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Get a disability lawyer from the start, and plan on it taking a long time. There is no out of pocket expense for this type of lawyer. They get a percentage at the end of the process, but it is well worth it. Just make sure to research for a good one. Start gathering your med records. You will need EVERYTHING! Don't get discouraged. There will be tons of paperwork, tons of questions to answer ect. Remember, this is a government program, and they don't left there money go easily. Best of luck.

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Attorney fees are set by Social Security, the maximum allowed is $6000. You only pay if you are awarded disability benefits. If you are awarded disability benefits, you pay 25% of the back benefits owed to you or your family; or the maximum amount, $6,000. In simpler terms, you only pay 25% or $6000 whichever is less, if you win your disability claim. Keep in mind that you may have to directly pay your representative for other fees for obtaining medical records, printing, administrative fees, etc. During consultation, check with the disability attorney for a list of fees you may be responsible for out of pocket.

If a lawyer tells you he or she gets a percentage of your award different than the guidelines set by the federal government outlined above I don't know if I would use them.

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The best way to win disability is to prove the physical and mental health effects the disease has on you. If you can prove both physical limitations and a mnetal health aspect it really helps. There are 2 forms to have the doctor fill out called functionality forms. These forms are very important. The first person to look at your disability claim is almost like a customer service rep, not a dr or usually not even a nurse. Those forms show your disability in numbers and it is easy for someone to see how much POTS is limiting you. Also when you fill out the forms be careful what you admit to being able to do. It asks what if you go to church, and you went once last year for an important funeral but can't go weekly do not answer that you have been to church. Only answer yes to things you can do regularly without worrying about POTS.

It is interesting that the doctors at the public health departments take courses in how to fill out the paperwork. Im not sure what your public health departmet is like but if you can see a dr there it might be worth it. If not make sure your dr has good notes and is supporting you. You fill out all the paperwork and do the phone interview(I would suggest you do not go into the SS office to apply or interview, just do everything over the phone). The SS office will asks for the dr records. Make sure the last few visits have good notes and get those functionality papers included.

I started law school(never finished) but have helped people with forms before after my own struggle with SSDI(I had a long wait but won before having to see a judge because of those functionality papers).

When you apply SS will tell you if you qualify for SSI or SSDI, if you have worked enough in the past 10 years you should get SSDI which is more money and gives you money for any kids under 18. It is always better to get this started asap. The worst thing that could happen is you feel good enough to work and have to cancel the claim. Good luck.

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SSDI is disability insurance that you paid into through taxes from working. You either qualify for this or not by how much you paid into the system. You can actually go on the SSA website and it will tell you your earnings and how much you would get. If you don't qualify for SSDI because you didn't make enough work credits, you can receive SSI. SSI is a welfare based program. If you were to receive SSI, you would receive Medicaid (state insurance) and not Medicare (only for those on SSDI). With SSI, the most they will give you is around 711 a month. They figure out the amount by going off of how much your household income is (if you have a spouse or someone that lives with you, that is contributing to your income, they will include theirs too). If you make too much, you will not get any SSI. This is important to figure out because a lot of the time, its pointless in applying for SSI if you know you will be over the income requirements. With SSDI, they do not care how much you make. When you apply, they will automatically apply your for both programs. There are a lot of people on both SSDI and SSI because their SSDI amount was lower than 711 a month. If you have any questions feel free to PM :) I just went through this crazy process and it took two years!

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I'm looking at this prep sheet for gathering info and it is asking me about the docs I've seen and the tests I've had. Should I include all twenty-something docs I've seen in the past 2 years while I was trying to get a Dx, or just the ones since my Dx? Also, I've had hundreds of tests done, most showed nothing, should I still report them?

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This is my opinion - see if others agree. I say include as many records as possible that have to do with you seeking an explanation or help for your condition. The more evidence, the better. It took me a lot of years and a lot of Doctors before I finally got a diagnosis too. One of my lawyer's arguments is a person must be feeling pretty poorly to be seeing all of these Doctors. Even if they were not able to diagnose you, your records should show what your complaints were and those complaints will tie into your later records which show your ultimate diagnosis. They will also show what the Doctors thought or observed and what diseases they were trying rule out. For example, if a Doctor suspected MS and sent you for an MRI of your brain, I think that shows the Doctor felt something serious might be going on. On the flip side, I was worried because some of the Doctors I saw were trying to pin me as "anxiety" and that shows up in my older records - but the lawyer said it was okay because the symptoms were explained later by the correct diagnosis - POTS. Good luck!

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Hi Khaarina. It sounds as if you have been given some very good advice. One thing that can not be over emphasized is the importance of carefully filling out the functionality forms. Give a clear detailed description of the difficulties, limitations and challanges you encounter every day. Don't limit yourself to the small writing spaces they give you. Add your own pages. In regards to records I sent in everything. I wrote out my own history. I included when all my various symptoms began, what acute illnesses came up, every doctor seen, all the diagnostic tests that were done, how hard I had tried to improve my situation and my level of function. I gave them a very clear picture of a woman who was desperately trying to regain her life. I really dont know what my doctor submitted on my behalf but I assumed it all fell on me to make my case. I did not use an attorney and was granted on first try ( 2006 ) but I don't think that is the norm. Most everyone I know of that has applied for SSDI has used an attorney.

Best of wishes to you,

Janet

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One thing I need to make mention of is, if anyone is wondering why I did not use an attorney it was not because I thought I didn't need one and could apply for SSDI on my own but rather it was out of ignorance. I did not realize until some time later that most people hire an attorney.

Janet

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I filled out the application and the dissability report with information for all the doctors I've seen since my symptoms began, the meds I'm taking, and my work history. There was no place on either of those forms to talk about my symptoms, how my condition limits me, or why it prevents me from working. Does that come later? The website wasn't clear about what comes next, it just said to wait for someone to contact me.

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If I remember correctly the functionality form which addesses symptoms and limitations came in the mail after the initial filling form but it was in 2006 that I went through this process so things may have changed somewhat since then. Back then I was either unaware of a website to refer to or it was not in existance yet. I do remember adding in a lot of addtional pages describing in great detail what I was going through. I think I was also a bit paranoid about all of my paperwork ending up in the correct place so when I had a contact person assigned to my case and a telephone number I called to varify that that person had in fact recieved my package. I made copies of everything I submitted and I had my husband read over it as well to make sure I had not forgotten anything so definitly having someone who is close to you read over your material is very helpful. Really take your time filling everything out.

Janet

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I just applied for disability. Applying for disability is a lot of work, and you have to do a lot of reading.

1. This document was a necessary read and is no longer available on the Internet. I retrieved the PDF off of archive.org. You can view it here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/141313050/Documenting-Disability

2. I highly suggest getting the Disability Workbook For Social Security Applicants, by Physicians' Disabilities Services. You can purchase the physical workbook here:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_17?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=disability+workbook+for+social+security+applicants&sprefix=disability+workbo%2Cstripbooks%2C218

You can purchase all of the Physicians' Disability Services publications for $20, in digital form, here. http://www.disabilityfacts.com/

3. I also suggest getting the NOLO's Guide to Social Security Disability: Getting and Keeping Your Benefits. The book gives you all of the information you need about the programs of SSI and SSDI in a clear and concise manner. The cheapest place to get it is here:

http://www.amazon.com/Nolos-Guide-Social-Security-Disability/dp/1413316891/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368501728&sr=8-1&keywords=nolo+social+security+disability

__________________________________________

I will add more information later.

Even if you do a digital application to the SSA, for SSI or SSDI, you can give the SSA as many paper documents as you want. This includes letters from physicians, binders of medical information that is presented in an organized manner, etc.

I have heard of people spending 60 full days working on an application for disability.

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You are correct in that many hours are required for filling out and putting a package of material together properly. I don't remember how many hours I spent on it but I do remember it was a lot. Attention to detail is critical.

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Yes on attention to detail, and having someone proof read. It is not easy and tedious. I remember feeling silly about stating it was difficult to brush or manage my hair and required assistance. (My hair was waist long)

Or for my job duties/ tasks/responsibilities.

Because of being self employed artist for so long, it was an excercise to put down everything necessary to run a business, design, fabricate, wholesale, retail , gallery, etc.

I had been so independent and fortunate with my career until falling ill.

Interesting, when I filed, I assumed to be rejected and figured it would be a long time.

Was qualified in three months.

And am grateful.

It's good to see support for others here regarding ssd and ssi. It's complicated process especially if your not feeling well.

Natalie

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Just remember that most lawyers wont take your case until your reconsideration is denied. The problem with them taking it before that is there might not be enough back pay funds to pay their fee.With SSI, there is no retroactive benefits rewarded. SSI back pay starts the date you apply. SSDI retro active benefits starts 5 months after your date of onset is established. There is so much info involved with this process, and it took me 2 full years to really grasp it. There is a website called ssdfacts.com that is great for people apply for disability benefits. There are even people who were once disability examiners that frequent it.

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