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Do I have to be completely incapacitated to get Social Security Disability?

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  118 Comments

Learn how you don’t have to be completely incapacitated to get Social Security disability and how you can to work for pay even while receiving benefits.

get-social-securityComplete Incapacity Not Required for Disability

Contrary to word often heard on the street, you do not have to be completely incapacitated to get Social Security Disability benefits. Many people getting Social Security Disability payments are able to take care of some of their home and their personal needs and are able engage in some enjoyable activities.

Working While Disabled

Some people whom Social Security has found to be disabled are even able to do a bit of volunteer work or part-time paid work. What is key to an approval for benefits is the inability to perform what Social Security calls “substantial gainful activity.” You may not be able to earn $1,130 monthly, which is generally considered substantial, but you may be able to work a handful of hours a week. Similarly, if you are blind, you may not be able to earn $1,820 monthly, which is generally considered substantial gainful activity for blind individuals, even though you can earn some money.

Social Security Work Incentive Programs

If you are already receiving benefits and you are thinking about working, Social Security has many work incentive programs, some of which allow you to get Social Security Disability benefits and Medicare for some months in which you are performing substantial work. For more information on Social Security’s disability requirements, including an explanation of “substantial gainful activity” please visit our article “What is Disability According to Social Security Disability Law?”  For information about Social Security’s work incentive programs, please see “Can I Keep Getting Benefits When I Am Working on Social Security Disability?”

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  • Dear Blacklightning,

    I don’t have any more insight to share with you about the issues of fairness that concern you.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Blacklighning,

    The D.O.T. describes the maximum demands of a sedentary occupation. Many sedentary occupations do not require the maximum demands.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Blacklightning,

    The definition of disability and the method of determining disability have not changed. You can read about the five-step evaluation process in the article “How Does the Social Security Administration Apply Social Security Disability Laws to Determine If I Am Disabled?” under the “Social Security Disability” tab at the top of the page (click on “Claims Process” in the drop-down menu and scroll down to the article). One key component of the evaluation is whether the medical evidence supports the level of limitation that is being claimed. That is usually where the disagreement lies when there is a denial.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Blacklightning,

    Some jobs do not require any lifting at all; however, such a low lifting limit could be very helpful in approving your wife’s claim if her transferable skills and education level are limited and preclude her from moving into that type of job.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Blacklightning,

    It is hard to successfully compare claims because so many factors are at play. For your wife’s case, it is important that her conditions and limitations are well explained and documented. If she has not done so already, I recommend that your wife request a copy of her claim file so she can see the exact reasons for the denial and see the evidence in file. That way she can collect and submit any missing medical records to the hearing office as well as statements from her doctors to correct or counter any incorrect conclusions.

    If she does not already have an attorney, it might be worthwhile to hire one for guidance on what to submit before the hearing and to present the case at the hearing. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount the attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your back pay.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Eric,

    If you are wondering whether you might qualify for disability benefits, I suggest that you discuss with your doctor what reasonable limitations should be for you and then compare those to the requirements of your occupation. This will help you decide whether to stop working or reduce your hours and earnings to less than $1, 170 gross per month so that you can apply. If you can’t continue in your current job, your age, education, and work history could combine to limit you from working in other occupations as is required for benefits to be awarded.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear William,

    Other than hearing loss, you do not say how your conditions affect your ability to work. If your limitations are keeping you from doing work that you have done in the past, given your age and education, you will have a good chance for approval.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Robin,

    The specialist’s opinion might carry more weight. It would be helpful to have the doctor state that your reported level of pain is credible if he or she thinks it is.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Robin,

    You might qualify for benefits depending on your education background and current limitations. If you file a claim, try to have your physician complete a residual functional capacities (RFC) questionnaire that addresses not only your standing, walking, and lifting limitations but also any limitations regarding use of your arms and sitting. At the same time, you might contact the vocational rehabilitation department of your state to see whether they would provide headphones and microphone so that you could do call center work without having to hold a phone.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Matti,

    If you are unable to work, you are medically eligible for disability benefits. To receive benefits your must either have worked enough before your accident to be insured for Social Security Disability (SSD aka SSDI) or have limited income and assets to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Kelley,

    Given your age and your occupation, you may qualify medically for disability benefits, especially if you have worked in the same occupation for a long time and don’t have transferable skills to a sedentary occupation. You can apply while working if you reduce your work hours so that you are earning under $1,170 gross per month. If you need to stop work entirely, check with your employer to see if you are covered by a short-term disability insurance policy to provide income while your claim is processed and during the first five-months of disability for which benefits are not paid.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Julia Barnett

    I think this is just a reply to the last question & i cant find where you start a question. Im bi-polar w/learning prob. Ive been getting disability for my bi-polar, psychosis, more since 2oo8. I just pushed & fought to make myself try to work again and ive temped for 2 years where i used to work. Friends there helped me get on gradually as an assistant but helped me alot & did my work for me to help keep me there. I was working almost fulltime bevoz my assignmets kept getting extended but with temping you dont k ow for sure when youll be working how long. I kept writing to tbe lady at Social Security sending her my checkstubs saying i was working now & to stop my payments while i was working and sent 2 checks to her at the local Social Security office to payback because i was afraid id get in trouble. She sent them back said it doesnt work that way they just withhold the next months to jyst keep sending my checkstubs which i did. Now i have bill cor $34,073. Then a Medicare bill fir 425 becoz that stopped my medicare health. I talkedto a nive boy at Soc Sec that filed in my record something that says i calked and tbey will look i to it because it cant be right. I got fired the same week i got this bill. I tried to tell her and sent a long letter to her and the Social security offive in Alabama with my check stubs that id been sending abd my letters and check copies where i tried to pay. The money went right into my bank so i thought everything was ok. Now i dont have a job or disability. I. Still disabled and more now all this has happened. I was in the hospital dor suicide psychosis episode in August. My Dr. Told me not to work too much or get stressed or too tired but if i didnt go and just ve home thats when i got realky bad and the cutting and manic. Im a mess now and no health insurance if i go off my meds thats really bad the worse thing. Im so confused and have to move somewhere because i cant pay me rent. I could try to sell my car but i dont have anyrhing or anyway to ecer pay that bill. If i cant have my paychtrist and pills i will be back at the hospital. I jyst dont know and am praying you get this. Thank God youre there to help.
    Julia

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Julia,

      I will try to comment on your situation if you will tell me the amount you earned per month while you were working ($1,070 gross monthly or more in 2014; $1,090 in 2015 or $1,130 in 2016?) and whether the overpayment you have is Social Security Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Lastly, if you have been given the reason for the overpayment, share that with me, and whether you are not getting benefits because your claim has been closed or because of benefit withholding to collect the overpayment.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Noemi agmartines

    I am a bus operator for 18 years. I was diagnosed with poly neuropathy in my legs, carpal tunnel bilaterally, had both shoulders operated on, and I have djd and ddd in my spine with stenosis. I stopped working a week ago because of the constant excruciating pain in my back. I can’t sit for long periods. My feet are numb and I have pain in my hands and atrophy in my thumbs. My thumbs hurt all the time. Would I qualify for disability

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Noemi,

      You may qualify for benefits. It depends on your age and whether you have transferable skills to another occupation that you could perform within your physical limitations.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • I have been out of work for 9 months now. 7 months ago I got into a car accident and now i am still dealing with a compression fracture to my spine T12. 4 months later for into a hit and run still with the compression. I applied for SSI, but they denied me. I am still unable to work. What do I do now? I filed an appeal. I still have pains in my back. Now I have swelling in they ankles and knees.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Nichole,

      I suggest that you hire an experienced Social Security attorney to help your form an argument for your appeal and help to select which additional evidence to submit. It can be helpful to get a copy of your claim file so you can see the evidence already in file and the exact reasoning behind the denial.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Marlene

    I am a 55 yr old nurse. I have worked as a nurse and cross trained in EEG, EKG and even supervisory skills for 37 years.
    I have heart blockage, chest pain, Atrial fibrillation, a pacemaker, sick Sinus syndrome,
    Osteoarthritis, Thyroiditis ( took radioactive iodine treatment to destroy part of the thyroid).
    Being on my feet and legs I suffer from edema and plantar fascia in both feet.
    And of course I love my job, but my cardiologist has recommended that I go out on disability.
    Of course this makes me depressed, but I had tried and transferred into several different health care positions ( I have been with the same company for many years).
    Do you think I would be approved?
    I am the sole bread winner.
    And I carry health insurance on me and my family.
    Thank you for any help, advice or suggestions.
    Marlene

    • Marlene

      P.S.
      I take 8 different kinds of heart medication and some side effects are horrible and cause fatigue , dizziness and headaches.
      Thanks

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Marlene,

      Given your age and how long you have worked in medical occupations and how you describe your medical condition, you might qualify for benefits. The only question I have is about whether your supervisory background would be light enough (mostly sedentary) that you would be able to do that kind of work.

      I am also wondering whether your employer has short-term disability (STD)insurance. If so, one strategy might be to apply for STD and go out on FMLA to hold your job giving time, hopefully, for you to get a decision on your Social Security Disability (SSD) claim while you have STD income. You’d want to file your SSD application right away and be proactive is submitting any cardiac testing that documents your cardiac function and other limiting conditions. Be sure to list the physical requirements of every nursing occupation you have done including supervisory. (For example, a hospital RN has different demands than an office RN. You can apply online at http://www.ssa.gov. The site has a checklist and helpful information to assist you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Maria T.

    Hi there, so I have a question. I am 32 yes old and I am wondering if I might be able to apply for disablity insurance. Here are the things I have and are still dealing with and have been diagnosed with: PTSD, multiple forms of Anixiety, Lumbar spondylosis, bulged disc, faced hypertrophy, foraminal stenosis, Early degenerative disc disease, bilateral facet hypertrophy. Finding of osteoArthritis. Chronic pelvic pain and chronic painful menstruals, also have several adhesions and many painful and stressful difficulties due to my Tubal ligations done in 2006. i am currently working with now 4 different doctors and 1 psychiatrist. I lost my job due to many days in pain and could not make it into work, and if u was able to make it into work just a few short months before being let go, I was having severe anxiety and panic attacks at random. Could I possibly qualify? (I have all my own copies of my medical records).

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Maria,

      It is possible that you could be disabled as defined by Social Security law, so it would be worthwhile to file an application to find out. I suggest that you try to get a statement from your doctors about what your limitations and restrictions are and a statement from your employer that includes the number of days of work you were missing a month and about any symptoms they observed you having at work.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Sarah

    I have dealt with anxiety, depression, panic attacks my entire life. I’m 33 years old. I have had a total of 4 jobs (intake clerk at dry cleaner for about 2 months, cashier for discount store for about 2-3 months, and a daycare worker for 8 mths the first time and the second time it was for about a year.) I have not been able to work for the past 10 years. I do not currently take medication, nor do I see a doctor regularly, but I have in the past. I have records that go back about 10-13 years. I was diagnosed about 3 years ago with General Anxiety and depression, along with panic attacks. My question is, should I start seeing a doctor again before trying to apply for some kind of financial assistance? Would I even qualify for assistance? What type would I qualify for? I only have 10 working credits that I earned 10 years ago. (I read that I would need 20? Is that correct?) I’m just needing some kind of help, but I don’t know where to begin. I am married, I’m a stay at home mom, I’m attempting on-line college to avoid actually “going” to school, but I now have a year out of the way…and I’m beginning to realize that in a year I’m going to be expected to get a job. I’m am afraid that I’m not going to be able to work. I’ve avoided a job for the past 10 years because I cannot leave my comfort zone of “home”. I’m so confused. Please give me some much needed advise. It sucks so bad to have my kids to care for and not be able to do the things that normal moms do. I have to have someone with me everywhere I go to help keep me focused on them instead of freaking out. Please help!! Thanks so much!

    • Sarah

      Just to be clear, I do not currently work, I’m just a full time on-line student, and my husband has a full time job.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Sarah,

      It is difficult to prove disability without having been treated recently for the conditions that limit you. Social Security might send you for a psychiatric examination, but that does not guarantee approval. I suggest that you start to see a psychiatrist for evaluation and treatment at the same time as you file your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Dennis

    Wife is 61 will be 62 this sep. She works on call 12 hrs a week. drawing unemployment. same employer and job for over 20yrs. started having feet pain and swelling 2yrs ago. Pain has become extreme to were she has trouble. Has surgery, still got worse. She is hostess. allot of walking and standing. if her hrs had not been cut back she would not beable to work full time. she has dr slip that allows her to sit when there is no guests. my questions are since she is so close to 62 does this have an effect on applying for SSD pmts. Also have not seen to many examples of people just having feet problems and what it comes under in the Blue Book.
    For her first application for SSD(applying) do you recommend getting a lawyer?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Dennis,

      Whether or not your wife is disabled according to Social Security law will depend on the occupations she has performed in the lifetime and her educational level. She may not qualify based on the listings in the Blue Book, but that is only one way to qualify. You can read about the five steps in the disability decision process in the first article under the Claim Process tab at the top of this webpage. So, if your wife is now earning less than $1,130 gross per month, she can apply for Disability benefits. She should claim the date that she dropped below $1,130 as her disability onset date.

      She can also apply for reduced Social Security Retirement to be effective in September. For retirement she can earn $15,720 a year and have no reduction in benefits. For every two dollars over that amount, her annual earnings will be reduced by one dollar. If she is approved for disability, she will be switched to the higher disability rate.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • rose

    Hi i have been complications i had injured my knee last year in feb 2015. I had a hairline fracture. My knee gets locked up and wont pop out untill like a week or two. Its benefiting from working. Also i have been in the hospital 3 times and currently taking meds for mental illness major depression. Also i have sarcoidios and a diabetic . And vision promblem in my right eye. And mitral valve. Wil i be able to get social security i had worked the last 10 years .

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Rose,

      You have multiple conditions, but I cannot tell whether you meet Social Security’s disability requirements. I am also unclear about whether you are working now. If you are medically unable to work and earn $1,130 in a past occupation and unable to work in a new occupation that can be learned on the job or for which you have transferable skills and/or education, you could be approved. I suggest that you discuss your conditions and limitations with a Social Security disability attorney or two to get an opinion about filing a claim.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • cruz jimenez

    Hi, I got Injured at work over a year ago, and I’m receiving workers comp benefits, I have not been cleared to go.back to.work or look for work , I have been wondering if I can receive disability benefits if I know I won’t be able to work anytime in the foreseeable future??

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Cruz,

      Yes, you can apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Take a copy of all your workers compensation correspondence that lists benefits that have been paid including settlements. Between the two benefits, you are limited to receiving 80% of your average monthly earnings as determined by Social Security. Even with this limitation, the two benefits often come to more than one of the benefits alone. Also, if your workers comp stops, Social Security may continue without the offset and without filing a new claim.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Elizabeth Ostrander

    Hi, I am an independent provider for my nephew and am allotted so many hrs a month to care for him. In Oct 2015 I had a transvaginal mesh implant surgery and ever since then I have had extreme problems, and am seeing doctors for a revision. I’m getting to the point that it is virtually impossible for me to pick up my nephew when needed, because of the pain. I just can’t stop working as this helps pay for the medical bills I have incurred since this surgery. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Elizabeth,

      If you are earning less than $1,130 net profit per month you can apply for disability benefits while working. It does usually take two to five months to get a decision on an initial claim.

      The other thing you might do is investigate work that does not require lifting if that is your primary limitation. Your state employment office or ;local community college might help you identify suitable work. If you need training, contact your state’s department of vocational rehabilitation to see whether you qualify for retraining for an occupation.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Elizabeth Ostrander

    Is the amount $1130 gross wages, or net income? Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Elizabeth,

      The benchmark figure for substantial gainful activity (SGA) is gross wages.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Ellen

    I have had problems with my c-spine since I was in my early twenties. I have a still cage placed in the lower part of my back with a fusion. I have had to under go three neck surgeries with the most recent one was this year. I had to get pressure released off the spinal cord and the c-spine. My neck is fused from level 4 to 7. I have sever weakness in my legs that causes problems with walking and climbing stairs. Not to mention just standing. My legs are also heavy and have tingling in them. I was also told that I have RA about 5 years ago. I still have a lot of problems and still take pain medication on a daily basis to get through just a daily routine. I am now only 45 years old. My most recent visit to my spinal surgeon I was told that I have a spine of an 80 year old person. Which believe me was nice to hear. He did let me know that there is nothing else that they can do for my neck. I do not want to get on disability but I know that it is getting to that point of no return. I really do not know if I would even be eligible to get benefits do to my age. any advice would be appreciated. thanks you

  • CATHERINE D

    I HAVE BEEN DIAGNOISED WITH LUPUS (SYSTEMIC) AND IS ALSO AFFECTING MY SKIN, FIBROMYALIGA, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, RA AND POSSIBLE STROGENS DISEASE, TOTAL HEARING LOSS IN RIGHT EAR. I WORK IN AN OFFICE BUT BY TEN OCLOCK I CAN BARELY STAND UP AND WALK, MY FINGERS AND HANDS HURT CONSTANTLY I DO A LOT OF TYPING. HAVE HAD SHOULDER SURGERY TO REMOVE BONE GROWTH, HAVE THYROID CANCER ON 250 MG REPLACEMENT THERAPY, MIGRANE HEADACHES, AM FORCING MYSELF TO CONTINUE WORKING I AM HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD AND NO OTHER MEANS OF SUPPORT, I AM VERY FORGETFUL NOW AND HAVE VERY LITTLE ENERGY. WHAT CAN I DO

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Catherine,

      I suggest checking with your employer to find out if you are covered by a short-term disability policy or state disability insurance that would provide income while a Social Security Disability claim is processed. Another possibility is to reduce your work hours so that you are grossing under $1,130. If you do that, you can file a claim while still working and claim the date you reduced your hours as your disability date.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • melissa cox

    hey Kay
    my husband case was denied in reconsideration stage and pulled by qusility review , and then sent back to dds , dds called wanting to know more on his respinseabilitys on past work he worked in construction for 41 years as project superi!tendent on commercial construction
    he us 57
    he has not worked in 10 months
    and
    do you think he will be approved

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Melissa,

      If your husband’s occupation was more physically demanding than the DDS examiner originally thought, the claim may be approved. If he is denied, it could be worth appealing again. If you do, try to get some proof of the daily physical demands of the job and have his doctor look at them and make a statement if there are any he cannot do.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Terry Woody

    Hi, I’m 43 I have had carpal tunnel , and cubital tunnel surgery on both hands and elbows, ai also have a deteriorating disc with bone spurs and acpinched nervecin myvneck with low back pain and numdness in my left leg , but mri shows normal. Would I qualify for ssdi

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Terry,

      If your conditions are keeping you from working or you are earning less than $1,130 gross wages or net self-employment you might qualify.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Terry Woody

      Thank you kay , I didn’t know how much of a factor my age would play.
      I’m still under Dr. Care and don’t know why they can’t find what’s wrong with my lower back

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Terry,

        Your age is considered because younger workers often have more potential for working in a new occupation. However, relatively young age will not automatically disqualify you.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

  • Heidi Thompson

    Hi Kay,

    I am 49, I have been at the same job for 15 years. I was diagnosed with severe Crohn’s disease about 8 years ago after spending 10 days in the hospital. I have been anemic for 8 years which is documented, have bone spurs in my neck, and lumbar spine, spondylitis in my hips and neck and spine, arthritis brought on by the crohn’s, high blood pressure under control with meds since I was 26. I also have extremely high levels of inflammatories in my blood. Recently had an MRI on my neck due to results of X-Rays, and constant pain in my neck, shoulders and numbness in arms and hands as well as radiating to legs. I have bones fusing in my neck which has made me have very limited movement of my head. The MRI showed that virtually every disc in my neck is bulging or herniated. With the worst at C5 and C6 at the base of my skull. It is becoming difficult to drive as I cannot turn my head very far at all to look for oncoming traffic. By the end of the day my lower back feels like it is on fire with the pain and the grinding and cracking in my neck is loud enough that others around me can hear it. When driving or riding in a car every time there is a bump in the road it feels like my brain is sloshing around in my skull. There are times that when a simple turn of my head, even just a slight turn, I experience a jolt of pain from the base of my skull to the top of my head and it feels momentarily as if I am going to pass out or black out. Also after moving my head or sitting too long, I will experience a complete numbness come over the entire right side of my body from my head to my feet, it has happened on the left side as well, however more times on the right. This happened a week or so ago when I was driving and luckily I was at a stop light and was able to put the car in park, switch to my left foot for the brake and gas and then was able to get to a parking lot. I have been warned by my rheumatologist that I cannot do things like ride a bike, use a ladder or step ladder or do anything that may make me fall because the issues with my neck are so bad that if I were to fall my neck would break, there is no cushioning left to protect my neck if I were to fall. I have been considering asking if one of my doctors could put me on short term disability. I do have both short term and long term disability coverage through my employer. I also wonder if with all of the conditions that I am dealing with, if I would qualify for SSDI.

    Thank you,
    Heidi Thompson

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Heidi,

      If you think that you cannot continue working due to pain issues in either the occupation you are in now or in other occupations and you either stop work or drop to below $1,130 gross a month, you can apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI) and get a formal decision.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Greg

    Hi Kay,

    Thank you for speaking to these issues.

    I suffered from mental health illness to the extent that in my mid 40’s I became disabled. My healthcare providers sought out SSDI benefits for me and through it took about a year I was approved for SSDI benefits in the late 90’s. My condition continued to worsen by the medications I was prescribed and the healthcare providers I met who were part of the HMO I bought had for my medical insurance.

    After 7 years, I became so desperate that against all my providers’ warnings I sought out and located healthcare providers outside my HMO for the help I needed, to wean myself from the devastating medications that were destroying what life I had left, in order that I might slowly find a new path and the means to tolerate a new career.

    After much therapy and hard work off medications I returned to university for 4 years which was the test ground for how I could deal with life head on and after 13 years of SSDI I returned to a full time job as a hospice nurse.

    I stopped collecting SSDI when I returned to work at age 58 in 2009 though I think Social Security continued making SSDI payments for a year after I returned to work to help me get going again and the SSA let me know I had a total of 3 years after returning to work in which if my disability reared up to extent I could no longer work again that I could return to collecting SSDI, no questions asked. I did not.

    I’m now 64 years old and will be 65 this October 2016. I was born in 1951.

    I attempted to get SSA to explain how my social benefits would be calculated at 66 but they weren’t able provide the specifics of how my benefit was calculated, only an estimate of my benefit when I reach full retirement age and inexplicably said my benefit would decrease if I continued to work after this year 2016, during the last two years before I reach full retirement age.

    Can you tell me on what basis and how my social security benefits be calculated if I begin collecting at full retirement age of 66 in 2018?

    Thank you for you help
    Greg

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Greg,

      Calculation of Social Security benefits is a complex actuarial process that is performed by computer. The estimate you were given is the closest you are going to get to an estimate before actually filing a claim. I cannot think of any reason that additional earnings would cause your benefits to go down. If you take retirement now, as you know, the reduction for early retirement would be permanent.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Betty

    Hi my husband is 52 and 5 years ago he had a hunting accident and broke his back in 3 spots, lumbar fractures … He also has nerve damage.. They basically have been giving us the run around and what not but he has been denied ,as of yesterday my lawyer has appealed the decision. My question is he retired at age 46 and has all his credits and has a retirement in a RIA if we draw it out will that hurt his case ? He was a police Jourman in our parish after he retired but was beat out do to not able to do what the public thought he could do (my opinion) … Just needing some advice please?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Betty,

      Withdrawals from retirement accounts do not affect Social Security Disability benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Doug green

    I hurt my back at work, work comp denied me, saying it is a preexisting condition due to the fact that I had back pain last year non work related and my doctor sent me to PT. I got a MRI done and have a herniated disc l5 s1. Can’t lift over 5lbs but I can walk and sometimes the pain isn’t to bad. My work history is all manual labor and driving semi. Would I qualify for disability since I can’t do the work I am use to doing?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Doug,

      Whether or not you meet Social Security’s disability criteria depends on the specifics of your limitation, your education, transferable skills, and age. If you think you are not able to work, I suggest that you file an application.

      At the same time, you might contact your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation or a private vocational rehabilitation firm to see whether they can identify occupations you might be able to perform or that you can train for. If not, you will have good documentation for your claim. If there are occupations you can perform, it will be an indication that your claim may not be approved, but the information will be helpful in making a career change.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • shani albright

    Hi I am a disabled vet looks like va will rate me at 70 percent due to ptsd. I was recenty fired because my boss pushed me to have documents forged to get people approves for apts and my staff told corporate because in last 3 months I have been “mean to rhem” after an honest heart to heart I believe I went into a hypo manic state when dr took me off mood stabilizer after experiencing side effects that I couldn’t live with…I have an MBA but no one will hire me as I was terminated from my last position. I also have shin splints that make it hard to stand for long periods and walk for long distances…and chronic tendinitis in both wrists and elbows..that hasn’t been treated in years as I just monitor my keyboarding…could I file for ssdi?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Shani,

      You might qualify for benefits. The best way to find out is to file a claim. Be thorough in explaining your conditions and how they affect your and submit medical documentation to support diagnosis, treatment, and effectiveness of treatment for all you conditions. If you are denied and disagree with the reasons, appeal with the assistance of an attorney.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Laura

    I am just about 60 years old and have osteoarthritis in pretty much all my joints. I have bone spurs on my ankle, elbow and heel. My big toes do not bend with severe deformity due to being fused together after a surgical procedure. I have carpal tunnel on my left hand, osteoarthritis with swelling and severe pain on both hands. The joint of the dominant (right) first and second fingers have limited movement without significant pain. Sleeping is disturbed by the severe aching and stiffness in my hands. I have stenosis on the L4 and L5 which limits bending, stooping and sitting for long periods of time. I am unable to be on my feet for more than 2 hours without swelling and passion from the bone spurs. I am unable to use my hands for any length of time that involves repetitive work. All of these conditions are documented with recent x-rays and radiology reports. I have severe depression, panic attacks, was just diagnosed within the last year with Hashimotos thyroiditis I take medication for each condition. I am scheduled to see a doctor for a physical exam next week which was set up by social security. My occupation was an administrative assistant for 42 years. I tried retail for two weeks and ended up at Urgent care with severe soft tissue swelling in my left foot because I was walking and standing all day. The doctor advised me to not continue this line of work. I don’t know what other jobs I can do. What are my chances of being approved?

    If I am denied benefits, weekday is the next step?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Laura,

      Please see my response to your first post. If you are denied you can apply. If you do, I suggest you request a copy of your claim file so you can direct your appeal to the specific reasons you were denied. I also suggest that you get the assistance of an experienced Social Security attorney. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge, and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award before they send your back pay to you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Laura

    I will turn 60 years old in April and have osteoarthritis in pretty much my entire body. I have bone spurs on my ankle, elbow and heel. My big toes do not bend with severe deformity due to being fused together after a surgical procedure. I have carpal tunnel on my left hand, osteoarthritis with swelling and severe pain on both hands. The joint of the dominant (right) first and second fingers have limited movement without significant pain. Sleeping is disturbed by the severe aching and stiffness in my hands. I have stenosis on the L4 and L5 which limits bending, stooping and sitting for long periods of time. I am unable to be on my feet for more than 2 hours without swelling and passion from the bone spurs. I am unable to use my hands for any length of time that involves repetitive work. All of these conditions are documented with recent x-rays and radiology reports. I have severe depression, panic attacks, was just diagnosed within the last year with Hashimotos thyroiditis I take medication for each condition. I am scheduled to see a doctor for a physical exam next week which was set up by social security. My occupation was an administrative assistant for 42 years. I tried retail for two weeks and ended up at Urgent care with severe soft tissue swelling in my left foot because I was walking and standing all day. The doctor advised me to not continue this line of work. I don’t know what other jobs I can do. What are my chances of being approved?

    If I am denied benefits, what is the next step?

    • Laura

      I meant to say my fingers are in significant constant aching pain especially while sleeping and upon waking.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Laura,

      It is possible that the combination of your conditions and your age may result in an approval if everything is well-documented. You might get a letter from the last employer if you had supervisor who observed inability to walk or stand. Similarly if your supervisor at your last administrative observed physical or mental health problems on the job, especially due to your hands, you might try to get a statement there also.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Ben Bateman

    Hi I am 39 years old and have been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondilitis, and auto-immune arthritis condition that at end stages can cause total fusion of the neck and spine. I have been seeing chiropracters, rheumatologists, and neurologists and they all say that I will become permanently disabled by the time I am 60.

    I am starting to have issues with my work. I work in IT support in front of a computer and answering phones all day. I am able to do most of the functions of my job, but have severed stiffness and aches and pain caused by my condition. I currently make well over the $1100/month.

    I was not injured on the job so cannot file any kind of workers comp, I was not in the military. I was wondering where can I proceed with this, since I am not completely disabled would this be a waste of time? From what I have read the highest disability amount will not come close to monthly income needs so I will have to continue working.

    Any info you can provide?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ben,

      Based on the information you have given me, you are not now disabled as defined by Social Security law. You might try to get an ergonomic assessment of your work station to see whether there is anything that can be done to lessen the strain on your body. If at some future time, you are unable to perform substantial gainful activity (now usually assessed as $1,090), you can apply at that time. (The longer you work, the higher your benefit will be.) For future reference, you might also check with your HR department to see if your benefit package includes long-term disability insurance, which may pay at a higher rate than Social Security.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Ann Gonzalez

        3703 w McLean ave I’m applying for ssa benefits with behchets syndrome, biopsy diagnosed in 2010. My symptoms are fever, body chills, muscles hurt, ulcers in my mouth ,my tongue, my vaginal area, I get inflamed ulcers in my lower stomach that doctors, & gynaecolist has seen! I’m also depressed, & have anxiety. My psychiatrist prescribes meds to me for this. My physciatrist also typed a letter explaining my autoimmune, and why I’m mentally, & physically unable to work. I work as a waitress. I’m always in excruciating pain. I’m afraid to quit if no other money is coming in. I applied for ssa. Lady said. Do you have minors? I said. Yes 2. She asked for thier names, ages, & birth dates. I explained everything from biopsy 2010 to now. She said someone will call me Tues. Dec 22nd to tell me what they need. Do you think I have a chance of getting approved the first time? Why ask if I have minors? Shld I quit my job? I dnt make much. Under $800. I get $228. Every two weeks for child support. I was thinking when I get my taxes, lI’ve off that money until I get approved? Please help me. Sincerely, Ann Marie Witting-,Gonzalez

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Ann,

          The amount you are earning now will not keep you from being approved for benefits. It can take two to five months for the claim to be processed and there is no guarantee that you will approved or you might have to appeal to be approved. So, if you can continue working, it might be in your best interests to do so while the claim is being processed. If your earnings record is high enough and you are eligible, your minor children will be eligible for dependent benefits on your earnings record.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  • Hello,
    I am currently unemployed and have been since 2007. I have had very chronic MRSA infections since 2007, which I got from my last job. It never goes away. Antibiotics will not work to heal the infection. My doctor tells me because I have active dermatitis(eczema) all the time, the MRSA is going to stick around unfortunately. I’ve also been diagnosed with extreme depression, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and PTSD. I’ve got degenerative disc disorder, and multiple cysts on my ovaries in which Ob/Gyn says it’s mandatory that I have a hysterectomy. Would these medical conditions be acceptable to apply for Social Security Disability??
    Thank You,
    Kimberly

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Kimberly,

      It is hard to predict whether you will be approved for disability benefits. Whether or not you are eligible based on your diagnosed illnesses depends on how severely they affect you. If your are unable to work and earn at least $1,090 monthly, you will be approved. In determining whether you are disabled, Social Security looks at a combination of factors including your physical and mental limitations, your ability to perform the duties of any of your past occupations, and considering your age, education, and work experience whether you are able to work in a new occupation. The only way to know whether you qualify is to file a claim.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Katie

    Hi! I have applied for SSDI because of a neurological autoimmune disease that causes total paralysis 4 years ago. I am not paralyzed now but still have residual effects. I haven’t worked since then but in the time it is taking to get approved I’ve come across hard times and am considering working despite my disabilities. My life AFTER I get home from work will surely suffer. Will getting a job now ruin my chances of being approved?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Katie,

      If you can establish that you were disabled for more than twelve months before you returned to work and that medically, it is possible that your attempt to work could be treated as part of a nine-month Trial Work Period during which full benefits would continue. You can read more about Social Security’s return-to-work incentives in their Red Book, which can be viewed online at http://www.ssa.gov or obtained from a local Social Security office.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Mkyles

    I was injured while training at an electrical lineman school. A utility pole fell on my leg and fractured my fibula, tore my acl and left me with a muscle hernia. I had surgery on my knee and now I have two screws in my knee which I was never told I would have and my lower muscle is bulged permanently. I haven’t worked in ten months, still attending therapy and the doctor still haven’t released me yet. To add to all this I have plenty of joint pain and swelling and redness. A doctor in the ER said I have symptoms of RA. I’m always in pain with the swelling in my joints and these flare ups happen quite regularly sometimes making it impossible to walk. I live in Mississippi also. Do you think I have a shot at getting approved for disability benefits?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mkyles,

      Whether or not you will meet the definition of disability depends on whether you are unable to work in any occupation that you could do if you did not have medical limitations. I suggest that you apply for benefits to get a determination. To support your claim you likely will need a specialist evaluation to establish limitations due to rheumatoid arthritis. So I suggest that you get an evaluation by a rheumatologist.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Maria Jones

    I have a daughter with type 1 diabetes, she’s 27 years of age. She was founded at her apartment unconscious by the police after being reported a no show for work for 2 days. Because of lack of oxygen in her brain after and CT scan, mri and spinal tap doctors said she would be a vegetable. She had worked up to the previous weekend of the incident. Because she is not able to do so for her self, can I apply for state disability for her?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Maria,

      Yes, you can apply for state disability insurance if you live in a state that has that benefit. You should also apply for Social Security Disability and possibly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. Those applications can be made at the Social Security Administration. I suggest that you take a letter or medical from her doctor that shows she is not capable of applying for herself.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Heather

    I’ve had costochondritis since June 2, 2014. I have been in out of the hospital more times than I can count and I have missed so many days from work due to being in such severe pain that my employer whom I’ve been with for quite some time put on a 90 day probation. I have four children and a husband. we cannot survive on his income alone so obviously I did what I needed to do to make sure I didn’t lose my job during his 90 days. My question is I am now having another flareup and my pain specialist has started talking to me about going out on disability. As well as the possibility that I may also have fibromyalgia along with the recurrent costochondritis. I’m 36 years old and have always worked but this past 16 months have been completely unbearable I have no quality of life everything I do is to get through the workday so that I don’t lose my job I come home and I put ice packs on and take the medicine to get rid of the pain. If my doctor pushes for me to go out on disability what is the likelihood of me actually being approved in anyone’s opinion?
    Thank you for your time

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Heather,

      I can’t predict whether or not you would be approved for disability if you stop working because of your condition. At your age, to be considered disabled, you must be unable to perform any occupation that you could otherwise perform if you did not have your pain limitations and any other physical or mental limitations you have.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Jennifer Stover

    i am 54 years old and have 96 percent bilateral hearing loss. I have always done well with hearing aids and have a college degree and have always held management positions. however, my hearing is getting worse and trying to keep up with everything at work is becoming more and more stressful on me causing much emotional hardship and affecting my ability to perform well on the job. using a phone is becoming impossible. Would I be eligible to receive disability benefits?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jennifer,

      You might qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI) if you are unable to continue working in your current occupation and cannot do occupations you have done in the past or reasonably transition to a new occupation. To file an application, you need to either stop work or reduce your work to less than $1,090 gross per month. If you decide to cease work, check with your employer to find out whether you are covered by a short-term disability (STD) or long-term disability (LTD) policy in addition to Social Security. If your hearing problems are apparent to your supervisor and/or co-workers, get statements from them about problems they have observed on the job and submit the statements with your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Bill Simonton

    Hello . I am a 55 year old union construction worker . I have back,knee and elbow problems. None of them are bad enough for permanent disability. They are bad enough that I am in such pain everyday before but mostly after work that I just am having trouble doing it anymore . 30 years has taken it’s toll . My question is , is there an occupational disability benefit ? In other words , can I receive any benefits because I can’t do this job that I’ve done my whole career and still work at , say Home Depot ? Thank you

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Bill,

      With your history of one occupation over a period of thirty years and your being in your fifties, you are likely to qualify for benefits if you cannot continue in your occupation. To apply you have to either stop work or reduce your earnings to less than $1,090 gross per month.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Bill Simonton

        Thank you Kay

        • Bill Simonton

          Kay – One more question …
          By stop work , do vou mean retire early ?

          • Kay Derochie

            Dear Bill,

            It is difficult to answer your question because “retire” can mean different things to different people and in different contexts.

            Social Security law does not require permanent disability, only disability that lasts for twelve months. Some people receive disability for a while and then return to work and disability benefits stop, so they don’t retire permanently from work. For people with permanent disabilities, stopping work turns out to be early retirement.

            If the meaning behind your question is that you are trying to decide whether to take a company or union retirement pension, you would have to consider all the pros and cons of doing that to make a decision.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

        • Kay Derochie

          You are welcome, Bill.

  • Jax

    I receive SSDI and have several medical conditions (diabetes type 1, social anxiety, learning disabilities). Now, I am having leg, knee and back pain that is chronic and makes working difficult because I have to stand and sometimes walk around during my shift. I return items at my job and bending down to place them on a lower shelf is painful to my back. If I quit my job, will I still receive SSDI? Can I get an unsuccessful work attempt through the SSDI program if I’ve tried working with the medical conditions but can no longer tolerate the pain? Also, I’ve heard some people get SSDI and SSI yet am not sure how that works. Do I need to have a certain income to be approved for this-I would only make $911 on SSDI without working.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jax,

      You will not lose your Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits if you stop work because of your health. Your Social Security is too high for a federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment. Some states pay a state SSI supplement for which there is a higher income threshold. You might check with Social Security by calling 1-800-772-1213 to find out whether there is a state supplement in your state and if so what the income limit is.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • MelJB

    I was awarded disability on first try, with filing on my own. My cancer is on the SSA’s “blue book” diagnoses list. Says I qualify for disability for 18 months. My first review is in October.

    I have had several complications since initial treatment. I got through aggressive radiation and chemotherapy with good results. Prior to removal of my upper left lobe of my lung and a chest wall resection for the cancer, I had a gastric ulcer to perforate. Since then, I have had a massive weight loss. My surgeon agreed that the risk of surgery with my current overall health status would be too great. That was this past summer/fall.

    I still have a gastric ulcer, being scoped last month. To complicate matters, I had a RNY gastric bypass in 2010, long before the cancer diagnosis. I am not a candidate for tube feelings as there is not much left of my stomach (from bypass), and a lot of weak and damaged tissue/structures from the ulcer and ulcer perforation repair.

    The type of cancer I have grows on top of the lung into nerve structures that go into the cervical and top thoracic spinal area. Although the tumor has shrunk, I am left with daily pain and my left arm strength is diminishing. I no longer cook alone due to dropping pans with hot contents. I find simple tasks extremely challenging. I need a nap a day. I have not been able to bring my weight back up to that of when I got chemo and radiation a year ago.

    I just found out palliative care will see me to help manage nutrition and pain.

    I’m can’t work. Doing taxes on the computer sent me into spasms with pain. I once was able to type 80 wpm without problems. Now I do tge one handed hunt and peck. I worked as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. I do not drive while taking pain meds due to cognitive impairment and delayed reaction times. Same with practicing. If I were to make a mistake with a patient, I would be liable for malpractice, as I was practicing under the influence of a medication. I became a nurse in 1994, a nurse practitioner in 2007.

    From all I see in the blue book, I will no longer qualify for disability. They are uncertain if I still have a cancerous tumor or if it is artifact from radiation a year ago (PET scan still glows). My BMI is 19.4, but I’m all bones. I cannot eat enough and have go have protein drinks. My weight is 10 lbs less now than when the surgeon said surgery was too risky to be done last fall.

    I know I’m unable to work due to the way I feel physically and function mentally. Thing is, will I have to get an attorney to fight for continued disability? I would think I would be continued, but I read these stories, and I have had experiences with my own patients being denied for years. I am 50 years old. I will be 51 when I have my review. I became disabled March of 2014 and received my first disability check October 2014. I cannot sit still for very long either. My backside is all bones.

    All responses are appreciated.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mel,

      Meeting the listings in the Blue Book is just one way to qualify for Social Security Disability. Your description of your current medical condition seems to indicate that you are still disabled according to Social Security standards. Be sure to list all your condition, symptoms, and treatment limitations on the continuing disability review forms as you have explained them to me. List all the medical providers who are treating the different conditions and let each know you are up for review when the time comes. Also, be sure that your physicians know you are being treated for conditions they don’t treat. For example, let your oncologist know about your stomach problems and vice versa. If possible get a statement from the doctors that are managing each aspect of your care about what your current limitations are and whether they think your reports of pain and weakness are credible.

      Sincerely
      Kay

  • Tom J

    Hello, my mother was recently diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and we recently found out it has spread to her bones. She does work part time and has started some pill therapy. We filed last month for benefits and it appears to me from what I read she would be qualified and does meet the requirements for the expedited compassionate allowance decision.
    Do you believe she would be determined eligible based on her medical situation?
    Could she still continue to work part time hours as long as she doesn’t exceed the $1070 a month, I am fearful of her being inactive.

  • Tom

    Hello, my mother was recently diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and we recently found out it has spread to her bones. She does work part time and has started some pill therapy. We filed last month for benefits and it appears to me from what I read she would be qualified and does meet the requirements for the expedited compassionate allowance decision.
    Do you believe she would be determined eligible based on her medical situation?
    Could she still continue to work part time hours as long as she doesn’t exceed the $1070 a month, I am fearful of her being inactive.
    Would she be able to do volunteer work?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tom,

      Work activity below $1,090 (the amount increased in 2015) probably would not affect her Social security (SSDI) claim. Part-time volunteer work would not affect her claim.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Terry

    Hello,
    I am 46 yrs old and HIV positive with an undetected viral load and a cd4 of 500. I was diagnosed 5 years ago and have had numerous bouts of sinusitis, genital herpes, bouts of mrsa, skin infections, chronic fatigue and muscle pain and diarrhea. I have mild osteoarthritis throughout my body. I have high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy and a pacemaker. I have been working as a manager in a hospital and seem to catch every virus that I come into contact with.
    my job is extremely stressful which causes some of my other viruses to flare up on and off. I have missed work very little but I’m getting to the point where I don’t have much energy to even get up and go to work.
    I know I have to make under 1000 dollars to be eligible for Social Security disability. I know it will come to this point very soon. my question is with all of my health issues and working in the medical profession which exposes me to all kinds of viruses and diseases and I am taking every precaution to avoid them can I apply for disability?
    Thank you

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Terry,

      To be eligible for benefits, you must be disabled from all occupations that you could perform if you did not have your medical conditions. If you have knowledge and transferable skills and health to work in other occupations in a different environment, you will not be eligible. That said, if your health requires you to drop below $1,090 in gross earnings, by all means apply for Social Security Disability to get a formal decision because that is the only way to know whether you are eligible. Also, perhaps your are covered under an employer-sponsored short-term or long-term disability policy. Most employer-sponsored policies,at least initially, only require you to be disabled from your own occupation. Some policies will pay a partial benefit if you have only a partial earnings loss–in other words, the policy pays if you are working part-time.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Jamie

    Hello,

    I am only 32, but was born with Spina Bifida myelomeningocele. I don’t have any feeling or control in my left leg from the knee down, but was very fortunate to be able to walk contrary to what the doctors expected. I’ve worked since I was 15, but over the past few years my legs have worsened thanks to a pinched spinal cord I got from a fractured vertebrae when I was a teenager and is now permanently damaged. The damaged spinal cord causes severe leg pain and now I have arthritis in my right foot along with nerve damage which is causing great difficulty in driving and performing job duties.

    I currently work and make over $1,070.00 monthly, but if I continue to do as I have been, it’s only a matter of time before I can’t drive anymore and must stop working. My wife and I couldn’t afford it if I had to stop working before applying for disability, but it seems to be the only option.

    Any suggestions? I have been paying for Long Term Disability Insurance through my work, but I’m not even sure how that works here in California.

    Thanks,
    Jamie

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jamie,

      I suggest that you get a copy of your long-term disability (LTD) policy and review the provisions that tell how long the waiting period is before benefits start after the date of disability. Also, the State of California has a publicly sponsored Short-term Disability Insurance (SDI) that covers most workers. It might tide you over until LTD and/or Social Security Disability started. If you drop below $1,090 gross earnings (the benchmark went up in 2015), apply for Social Security right away because claims take two to five months to process.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Jamie

        Thanks so much Kay! I forgot about SDI!

        I hope you have a great new year!

        -Jamie

        • Kay Derochie

          You are welcome, Jamie.

  • sandra

    My bf had an accident at work and will soon be coming to the end of workers comp. At this point, the doctors have said he will be written as disabled. My question- what happens now? do I apply for NY SS disability?If so, how does he go about applying?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Sandra,

      I recommend that your friend apply for Social Security as soon as possible if he is disabled from working in any occupation or if he is over fifty and is disabled only from the occupations he has done in the past. He should apply right away because most claims take two to five months to process after all the application forms are completed. He should be sure to state that he is getting workers comp on his application. He can get instructions and tips on applying on this website in the articles under the “Apply for SSD” tab on the navigation bar that is at the top of every page.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • suzanne

    I fell at work shrinking my head, was taken by ambulance to hospital..diagnosed with concussion..then post consusion syndrome..its been five months and i am still out on workman comp…i am still having significant cognitive issues…There is no way I would be able to go back to my face paced job.caring for developmentally disabled individuals at present. Is it possible for me to also collect social security. Our family no lknger has insurance though my employer as i.cannot afford the COBRA payment on WC ..

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Suzanne,

      You can apply for Social Security Disability. I recommend doing so now as it takes two to five months for most new claims to be processed. Be sure to list that you are receiving workers comp. When you apply, list all your symptoms and cognitive problems because if you are under age fifty you will definitely also be evaluated to determine whether you can do other occupations. If you have ad cognitive testing, be sure to list the testing and where it was done. If you have not, try to get testing done when you once again have insurance. Regarding insurance, I suggest that you investigate applying for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Your premiums may be subsidized by the government.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Lydia

    Hello,
    I had radiation and chemotherapy for Hodgkins Disease about 30 years ago when I was 17 and then again when I was 21. I am now experiencing long term affects due to treatments. One test indicated I have damage to my long thoracic nerve. I have a winged scapula that causes chronic pain. I have chest pains and a recent Ekg indicated “a difference” from the last EKG I had and I now was told I need to get a stress test, although I’ve not yet due to the costs involved. I had one stress test a few years ago that showed a weakness in one area of my heart. I have hypothyrodism, severe osteoporosis in the spine and neck, chronic pain in the neck and upper back. And now I am losing strength in my right arm, which I suspect has something to do with the winged scapula. I have been to so many doctors over the years, I can’t keep them all straight. My question is, I have worked through all this. But I am exhausted and am experiencing chronic pain, and I can’t lift my right arm above my shoulder. I am 51. Can I get disability? Thanks. insurance?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Lydia,

      Whether or not you are eligible for Social Security Disability depends upon whether you are disabled from working in occupations you have done in the past and whether or not you are able to adapt to work in a new different occupation. Your age could help somewhat with the latter assessment. If you are earning more than $1,070 gross per month, you will not be eligible as long as you work. I suggest that you check with your physicians to see whether they support that you are unable to continue in your current work or other owrk. If you feel you cannot continue, check with your employer to see if you are covered by short-term disability benefits that could tide you over while you wait for a Social Security Disability decision or whether your state has disability insurance. One more thing: it can be difficult to get disability for limitations caused by several different conditions. It could be helpful to have an attorney assist you in presenting your case.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • rekke

    I’m 57. I fell at work on my left side hurt my neck shoulder and back.Having steroid shots in back and physical therapy. Do to meds etc. not working surgeryis in place for 10/17/2014. I receive workmans com. Now. First back surgery then they will work on the neck. My question is can I now file for ssd??? When should file it’s been approximately 2 (two) months of chronic pain,depression & anxiety. I wear a back brace and now use a walker taking muscle relaxers and pain pills. L5-6 surgery also s1,degerative back and neck disease. Can I start the SS. Process?

    Sincerely
    Rekke

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Rekke,

      You should apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI) now because it can take two to five months for the medical review and more time after that to receive benefits. There is a workers compensation (WC) offset against Social Security. The WC settlement will be prorated over a period of time prescribed by law and used to reduce your Social Security for overlapping months. During that time, the maximum you can receive between the two benefits is eighty percent of your average current earnings, which is typically more than you can receive with either offset alone.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Terri

    Hello: I am currently on short term disability. I have been out of work since August 4, 2014. I had 2 surgeries of which I am still in pain. I am supposed to be fit to go back to work Oct 8, according to state disability. My problem is that I travel by bus and train to work, and it’s very time consuming. Every year I use up all my days, mostly being sick. I have Sjogrens Syndrome, Trigeminal Neuralgia, depression, bad knee from work injury, many herniations in back and neck due to car accident in 2010. It is getting more difficult to work each year. I am now 54, soon to be 55. My current job I have worked 19 years. My problem is to sit home and apply, I can not afford to pay bills. Also, doctors are so expensive that all my money is going there, and am afraid I will go bankrupt. I live in NY. I make much more than $1070 per month. Are there doctors that disability can send me to? I just can’t afford this. I need help, but even access a ride has denied me in the past, as they say I can walk a few blocks to the bus, yet I take two buses and train and walk, and this is really taking a toll on me, and winters are brutal. Also, most doctors I am already seeing, for example neurologist, tell me to go get surgery, as I take pain meds to ease pain, thru physiatrist. I want to work, but it’s just getting so difficult and depressing.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Terri,

      If you reach the point that you are unable to work (Social Security does not consider the demands of the commute), perhaps your short-term disability insurance will cover the months that you have to wait to have your claim processed and while you are in the first five months of disability, which are not paid by Social Security. As far as seeing a doctor, Social Security pays for an evaluation-only (no treatment) examination if your own medical records are insufficient to establish your diagnoses and the extent of your limitations.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Hi,My name is Jonathan 33 years I have been working in this country since 2010.Last year on dic 3 2013 I had a lower back injured at work with surgery.I been out of work for 8 months,and somebody told me about apply for ssc disablity which is good for me.I dont have 5 years in this country and I dont have 1 year out of work.I just want to know if I can apply or not for ssc benefits,Note I’m reciving 70% of my salary under workers comp.Plz let me.know which are my rights uf I ha e any.Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jonathan,

      Unless you worked for a U.S. firm abroad before working in the United States, you do not have enough work to receive Social Security Disability. You are not eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability because you are receiving workers comp. If you are still disabled when the workers compensation ends, whether or not you will be eligible for SSI depends on your immigration status; only some aliens are eligible.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  • brock

    Recently I was injured at work. I am contracted on through a major oilfield company. What we were doing is difficult to explain to most people. But to explain it briefly, we were cutting up some old co-rod that was layed down on a big 20 ft. Carousel like spool. This co-rod is a 5000 Ft. Long piece of 1″ metal, that is bound up like a big coil. Now when we were cutting through it with a welders torch, the line on the inside of the carousel, became frayed and snapped, sending the co-rod flying, and I was in its path. I sustained an open fracture to my left Tibia, and fibula, along with a torn ACL all to my left leg. I had lost a pulse in my foot by the time I got to the hospital (close to an hour after I was hit ), and the local Dr. Had me life flighted to Utah because they were worried about me losing my leg. After surgery I was left with 1 rod & 4 screws, and in a full leg knee stabilizer. Now, my question is, what kind of permanent disability benefits might I be entitled, because I’m worried I won’t be able to perform as well doing such physically demanding work, and I’m worried it can affect my future employment. I’m currently on workmans comp, and also curious on how they rate a percentage of lost mobility in my leg. Any kind of advice or answers will be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Brock,

      Please give me your age, so that I can respond to your question.

      Thank you,

      Kay

  • Holly

    My fiancée fell from a billboard 40 feet over 30 years ago and has been on workman’s comp ever since. The original employer has sold the company twice since then and the most recent company wants my fiancé off it’s WC books. His attorney has said that we may have to go for Social Security benefits in order to receive any further compensation. My fiancée also gets SSD due to mental illness. Is this something that normally happens when a company wants someone off of their WC books? My fiancée was with another person when the original accident happened and I am just trying to figure all of this out. We are meeting with the WC lawyer soon

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Holly,

      If your finace is already receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) for one condition, he cannot file another claim based on a second condition. He needs to tell his attorney that he already receives Social Security.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  • Karen

    I have chronic Lyme disease and/or fibromyalgia. I have periods of incapacitation (sometimes months) where I am unable to work. I also have months where I miss 3-5 days but am mostly able to work. I have FMLA but this is unpaid. I am unmarried and nobody to help with the bills during those months and days of incapacitation. Do I have any hope of getting help through disability? Thanks.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Karen,

      Check with your employer to see if they have a short-term disability policy under which you are covered. If so, it might pay on-and-off again benefits or partial benefits for the number of months in the maximum benefit period. As far as Social Security Disability goes, you would need to take a list of all the dates you were on and off work (including days missed when working) and file an application to get a decision on whether your work pattern would allow approval.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  • Mandy J.

    Hello. I was diagnosed with both fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and herniated discs, and these conditions cause chronic pain every day. I have had the pain issues for 2 1/2 years now, and some days it is a real struggle for me to work even though I work only 23.5 hours a week and make way less than the 1070.00 a month. I have even started to see a mental health counselor to deal with the depression/emotional issues that being in chronic pain has caused me. I know a lady who has really bad back issues that cause her to use a cane to walk and causes her a lot of chronic pain, and she said that she was still able to get some disability benefits even though she was only working part-time. Do you think I may have a chance of getting partial benefits myself, and if so, how would I go about doing it? I work in an office, and that is relatively easy-going when it comes to physical labor, but my nerve problems and herniated discs in my back also causes pain even though I work at a desk. If I can barely stand that, I honestly don’t know how I could possibly work anywhere else or in a different profession. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind working, but I am struggling to do it. Some days, it is very hard to even get out of bed let alone go to work.

    Thanks for your advice. I appreciate it.

    Sincerely,

    Mandy J.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mandy,

      You can file an application for disability benefits while working. Be sure to state in the remarks section that you are working and provide the number of hours per week and the amount that you are earning. Explain the difficulty you have working and why you cannot work more. You can find a description of how to apply for benefits in a series of articles under the “Apply for SSD” tab on DisabilityAdvisor.com’s home page.

      If you are denied and believe that you are disabled, be sure to hire an attorney and appeal. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award at the time they send your back pay to you. So, it’s all very easy and risk-free.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  • Jeff Howard

    I am 44 and have a rare form of cancer called Pheochromocytoma. There is no remission from this, only a short 2-10 year life prognosis and constant chemo for palliative care.

    My chemo is given every three to four weeks, and has me out of action for about a week at a time at least. However, I am still mostly capable of working for some of the weeks in-between… but those days are also filled with nadir appointments and other scans and doctors visits. To make a long story short, at least as of today, I am able to work part time. The issue is my job is not a job that one can do part time. I am a senior manager and typically work 12 hour workdays 5x per week, and work from home remotely on weekends.

    So the question is: how sick do I have to be to meet SSD or my Metlife private STD and LTD criteria?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jeff,

      Social Security’s definition of disability is the inability to perform substantial gainful activity for a period of twelve months. (The twelve month duration can be expected; it does not have to have already passed.) The earnings bench mark for substantial gainful activity (SGA) is $1,070 gross per month. Given your occupation, your part-time work most likely exceeds that. If you stop work or drop below that level of earnings, then it would be appropriate to apply. Social Security will evaluate your claim to determine whether to can perform any past occupation you have performed and also review your transferable skills to determine whether there are other occupations you can perform. Part of that evaluation would be whether the other occupations would allow you to be on and off work for your treatment, which might not be possible.

      With regard to your short-term(STD)and long-term disability (LTD) coverage with MetLife, I suggest that you get a copy of your policies and review thm carefully. Many policies initially only require that you be disabled from the occupation you were in when disability begins. If your employer has indicated that you cannot continue as a part-time senior manager because it is not possible to complete all the duties while working part-time, you may qualify for STD and LTD benefits.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  • gail rain

    I had surgery on my foot in 2012 which the screws broke and I had to fight to get another dr. to redo the surgery,which was redone and one screw broken had to stay in as they thought if they took it out it would cause me to never be able to walk. this again had to be redone third time and will have to have another surgery again this year in 2014. This concludes I will have a total of 4 surgeries on r foot and 1 on l foot. I applied for ssd under mj. depression, panic chronic, add, ptsd, acdf disk degeneration of neck. I was told by many ss disability attornies I did not have a case. I won first time. My question is I am now on ssd and my long term disability from Greater Ga. Life knows that I am on ssd and have cut my payments alot which I understate,but they are now constantly calling me questioning me when am I going to go back to work. I was a hairstylist and at 55 years old standing on my feet for long periods of time hurt as it was but I dont think I will ever be able to work doing that again for ever. Now they suggested that I become a nail stylist as it does not pay the same as well as I have problems with my neck looking down as I already had 4 disks removed and replaced. They want me to figure out something where I can go back to work. I really dont know what exactly ssd approved me on disability….if it was feet or depression or which one or all the above. Can they force me to go back to work, what are my rights, what can I say or not say to long term disability. How long can they keep haressing me? Do I have to keep putting up with this all my life? Do I have to go to these places they ask me to go to.How long does my long term disabiltiy last as I paid for it out of my payroll check. It was short term first for 6 months then all kinds of check up from drs. turned into long term but does that mean it could be any disabiltiy or just for feet and then they cut me off. thanks for your help

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Gail,

      You need to get a copy of your long-term disability (LTD) policy–not just a brochure–and read it carefully, getting help to understand it if necessary.

      Many LTD plans have two definitions of disability. the first is disabled from your own occupation (hair stylist. This definition is for a certain period of time that will be defined by your policy. (It is often the first twenty-four months of benefits) The second is disabled from all occupations (meaning any occupation that your health allows and your education, training, and work experience qualifies you to do). The second definition applies from the end of the own-occupation period through the maximum benefit period. It sounds as if the insurance company may be moving toward evaluating whether you are disabled from all occupations. Be sure to answer all their requests for information and attend any exams they request. Be clear on limitations (from all conditions, but especially your neck) that you have that prohibit you from working as a nail stylist. You might also talk with the medical provider who has treated your neck to get the doctor’s statement of your limitations regarding looking down. If they determine that you are disabled from all occupations according to the policy provisions, in the future, your claim will probably be reviewed once a year or so and in less detail.

      The policy will also tell you how long the benefits will continue if you are disabled from all occupations. It will be a certain number of years or to a certain age. You will find this in a provision called something like “Maximum Benefit Period” or “When Benefits End.”

      I suggest also looking in the policy to see whether you are required to engage in vocational rehabilitation as a condition of receiving benefits. If it doesn’t, they cannot require you to train for another occupation.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

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