Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

My Social Security Disability Saga

1/23/2012 Receive notification from long-term disability provider through work that I had a pre-existing condition that is likely to prevent me from getting benefits.  The same day my last short-term disability check was received, meaning that I would have no further income.  Seek out disability attorneys.  Decrease cell phone minutes and cut text messages; I can have up to 25/month for the same cost and I never have that many.  Total savings $28/month.

1/25/2012 Completed initial filing for SSDI online.  Also completed paperwork for long-term disability through work since it is worth trying.  Began investigating financial support programs while anticipating months without income.  Decide to try to do first level of filing without an attorney as this is pretty straight-forward and if a lawyer helps they receive 25% of the backpay.  Will involve an attorney if needed during the process.  Began lists of questions for different agencies.

1/26/2012 Receive notification of appointment with social security for 2/6/2012.  Begin filling out the 2nd online application stage which makes the appointment much more simple and fast.  Am glad that the long-term disability form required gathering massive amounts of information about people who have treated me over the years.  This form is very detailed and long.

1/27/2012 Long-term disability paperwork mailed to insurer.

1/28/2012 Continue the long form for SSDI.

1/30/2012 Received clarifications needed to complete SSDI paperwork.  Application submitted to Job and Family Services.  Primarily this is for food stamps at this time but in time I will be eligible for several other programs through them.  Cancelled book club, online magazine and online video service, total savings from this $38/month.

1/31/2012 submitted release for all medical records to social security.  Requested information on how to help with mortgage from mortgage company.

2/1/2012 submitted adult disability checklist to social security.  This form involves listing all doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc. who have been involved in your care as well as  medications and anyone else who may have relevant medical records.  I tried to be overly thorough hoping to provide too much rather than too little and it was a lot of work.  Contacted organization that has my 401k to find out how to close it as this is singlehandedly keeping me from SSI (income based assistance).  Began waiting.

2/2/2012 Resigned from my job in order to be able to empty the 401k to allow me to apply for SSI.

2/6/2012 SSDI phone interview completed.  Will not get SSI.  Disability date set for 8/7/2011 which is helpful later on for getting Medicare.

2/7/2012 Attempted to find anything but COBRA insurance until I am Medicare eligible (based on current claim this will be Aug. 2013 but could be changed as the claim progresses).  There is nothing.  I am forced to pay what I expect to be around $450/month for insurance.  While I don't have an income and even when I do my income will barely support me.  Begin considering giving up insurance for a 6 month period at which time I can enter the high risk pool.  Will see what doctors say.

2/9/2012 SSDI claim is in the hands of the reviewer and medical records requests are pending.  (I expect this to last a while)

2/9/2012 Long-term disability through my now-former employer was denied as expected.  Mortgage company can't help very much unless I am behind on payments (so stupid).  Looking at different re-fiancing options.

2/9/2012 Received copies of some of what was covered in the phone application.  Also received a copy of another person's information.  Left messages at Social Security office regarding both.

2/15/2010 Requested application to discharge enormous federal student loan on the basis of disability.

2/16/2012 Approved for "nutrional assistance", aka food stamps.  May also be eligible for disability Medicaid but need to determine if I would maintain eligibility when SSDI starts and my income is above the minimum.  I need something that is affordable until I am Medicare eligible.  If I am approved for SSDI without having to wait a year for court and if the disability date is unchanged from the one originally used by the caseworker who filed the claim I will get Medicare in August 2013.  Otherwise is is Medicaid or about $450 out of pocket monthly (probably a bit more) for insurane that covers little.

3/3/2012 Recieved written notification that my food assistance is completely approved and I'll get a card with 2 months (February and March) funds.  Discovering that I find it emotionally challenging to actually use the card that still isn't here.  Very happy about the February money as that can be used to stockpile.

3/3/2012 Received a letter dated 2/24/2012 from SSDI case reviewer with a long form that is supposed to be back to them within 10 days of the letter, ie. immediately.  The form requires detailed explanation of what I can and can't do in a huge range of areas, especially self care.  I knew it was bad; this makes that more clear.  After working on the form for many hours on 3/3/12 and 3/4/12 left a message with the reviewer that I didn't get the form in time to mail it back with arrival tomorrow but I can't afford to fax it if not absolutely necessary.  Hopefully she'll get back to me before I have no choice but to fax; I'll mail it first thing after I copy the pages and if I don't hear from her by the end of the day I'll fax it, I guess.  It says if they don't get it back in time the case can be closed so I don't feel I have much choice.  With the limited attention span that was extremely challenging to do so fast.

3/8/12 and 3/10/12 gave Drs. Mind and Brain respectively ever file I had that might help them with their paperwork.

3/15/2012 received notification that Cleveland Clinic would cover all medical expenses from March-July 2011 per a request I filed.  I called and was assisted in getting forms started to cover all expenses there through meeting my deductible last year and then again as this year has started.  Every 3 months I just have to show I still don't have good insurance.This means I can get labs, a minor procedure I may need this spring, etc. done without a copay (my new insurance bills me for 20% of everything.)  It means I can be hospitalized without trying to figure out how to come up with the deductible and the 20% until that point.  I may decide that this is enough security to not deal with the expensive medical COBRA.  Maybe.

3/15/2012 Dr. Mind's papework submitted.

4/5/2012 Received call notifying of approval with benefits to begin payment in May 2012 (which is really the April check)


Erminia Cavins said...

You've gone through many procedures while applying for a social security disability benefit program. And, it's good that at the end of this blog post, you told us that your application had been approved. I'm happy for you! I hope that up until this moment, the SSDI program still continues to support you.

Just Me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Just Me said...

Lest there is more comment spam that I don't catch: I DID NOT USE AN ATTORNEY.

I do not necessarily think this is the route for everyone, but for me it was the right thing to do. I did a lot of research prior to deciding that I could do the first step without assistance. The reason that I decided that is that I was professionally trained in filling out government forms and in analyzing people's abilities and need for assistance. There was nothing in the first round that was not beyond the scope of what I did for 11 years as an OT and so I was comfortable trying on my own.

I also knew that most people fail the first step just on general reviewer principle and so I decided to not spend money on an attorney at this point. I didn't think it was going to make much difference.

And I was right, although not in the way I thought I would be. The way that I was approved meant that little that I did had much meaning. I was approved because the computer read my doctor's forms and hospital records and spit out something that indicated there was no chance I wasn't going to be approved via mathematical formula. And so I was approved before undergoing the usually process. An attorney wouldn't have mattered any more than paperwork from my cat would have. There's no way to know that your claim will trigger this as not many do, but when it happens it is your history that matters. When I started filing Dr. Brain showed me just a small portion of the written files she had for me and she had many years of computer files plus 3 long hospitalizations on the psych unit and one medical hospitalization with a battle of psych symptoms with psych and medical staff. She said she had documented for years with the knowledge that the records might someday be needed for this. Dr. Mind's office had another enormous file.

It was those things and not an attorney that worked so fast for me. I am all for using an attorney if you feel safer. Most people probably should. Most people haven't evaluated people's independence for years prior to applying. This was just something God prepared me for.

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Jason Hayes said...

It seems that you had to endure quite a lot. But what's good after this almost four months of limbo is that you were able to get your social security benefits. That's the important part, as that gives you access to those benefits that you deserve. I just hope you won't run into any more issues with later claims. Take care!

Jason Hayes @ DECO Recovery Management