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Applying for Social Security

My journey applying for social security started June 23, 2023. Dr. Sun my arthritis specialist made the suggestion that I should try to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)/Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There has been worsening of my arthritis and my comorbidities. Between my arthritis and recurrent infections it has become very difficult holding a job. Applying for Social Security seems like it would be a better choice for a steady income.

How did I get the process started?

To start out, I researched the Social Security webpage. This led me to read about what you need to have prepared to start your claim. I applied long ago when I was first diagnosed with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. There was so much confusion on my part that I am not sure I even applied correctly. This time, I am hiring a disability lawyer.

How does the lawyer get paid?

My research led me to a lawyer in the midwest area. I have decided that most people who file with a lawyer that they get better chances of winning their case. Payment for the lawyer is only made if you win your case and it is an either-or situation. It is either a percentage they can take if they win or a flat monetary amount depending upon the law. Trying to find a guide through the endless confusing papers seemed like I definitely needed help.

What are the different types of disability?

The lawyers had me sign paperwork and spoke with me by telephone. We agreed on the fees and retaining them. So it was onto the first step with the government. A package of papers was sent to me by the lawyer and had been obtained through the Social Security administration. A series of three legal size document envelopes arrived at my home. One was the disability application. The second is for SSI. This is supplemental income if you don't qualify for disability. Tue final envelope was all the information from the lawyer that gave permission for the Social Security staff to speak to the lawyers on behalf of me.

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How do I show Social Security how my life is impacted?

My next step was to sign all the paperwork and send it back to the lawyer so they could forward it on to Social Security. Then we got to work on the rest. One of the largest books of paper I had ever seen was inside one of the envelopes. There were at least 10 to 20 pages to look at. At first glance, I discovered that the first five pages were instructions.

Though the instructions are vague they do give a general idea.  My goal is to give a detailed account of day in the life of me. For instance what did I do before that I can no longer do. What are the reasons I can not do them? Like can I bend over and pick up stuff that is 25 pounds or is there a reason I can not. This is where I describe my diagnoses from my doctors. Each doctor involved has to be listed along with a paper stating you are willing to allow them to release information to the lawyer and the Social Security staff.  All the information however tedious is important to the findings of your case.

How does Social Security decide if you qualify?

Social Security has a process they use to decide whether or not you qualify for disability. They look at how much you have worked in the past, what you have paid into the program, and how your disabilities affect your ability to work.1 One of the things they express to you in the start of all this is an estimate of how long it can take to process your claim. In my case, it said up to and beyond 6-9 months. Of course they do not tell you this truthfully until you submit your original application.

When did the process start moving forward?

At just over seven months, I received a phone call from my lawyer with a social security worker on the line. The Social Security worker asked me about my health, wanting to know if there were updates (and there were) and to tell me that there were extra questionnaires that I had to fill out before they could proceed further. He discussed that these papers would be mailed to me via the regular mail. I agreed to fill them out and they both hang up.

What did they need from me to review my application?

New papers arrived in similar style envelopes like from the beginning of this journey. There were four packets in this set. One was an additional 10 pages with another day in the life of. This packet had updated items asking how am I faring now and whether my medical status, comfortability, or life with the disease has changed and if so, how. The other packet asked me for details of the last 15 years I have worked. Yes, 15. I noticed the packet was 8 pages long. Consent to telehealth appointments were the next two papers. The government wanted me to speak with their doctors as well so it is not a biased opinion. The last of the paperwork was a function report.

Now, I am a patient person but when I saw all this I was flabbergasted that from the time of receiving these papers to their due date was a mere 7 days. My fear was not to finish them in time. While working on them a couple of questions came up, but I just contacted my lawyer for help. The lawyer did not tell me what to state but did make the process clearer. It was a lot of work. Now that it's over, I am waiting patiently for the next step.

Where am I in the process now?

My understanding from the advisor from Social Security is that all my records are being gathered, that if I need to see any other physicians they will inform me. Otherwise my job is to keep on keeping on till I know more. In the past, I had a medical doctor examine me and a psychological one. When I asked if this was the case, the advisor said it was a possibility. So from here, I will continue on. Ms. Felicia the lawyer's assistant will contact me back with further information.

Do you think it's intentional? Do you think applying for disability should be this complicated? There are many theories on why the process takes so long. Some have suggested it weeds out people who are truly serious about needing help. What are your thoughts?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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