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Old 11-18-2009, 08:10 AM   #1
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Unhappy Do I qualify for disability...when should I try?

I'm a 52 year old female. Been working since I was 16 years old. In 2006 I had uterine prolapse and had surgery for repair. I have only gotten worse since my surgery and other organs are falling. I've had 2 other hospital procedures (both in 2007) to repair further. Still not successful. Then in 2008 I had physical therapy. Now in 2009 I'm feeling the organs still falling and another surgery (robotic) it possible in my future.

I work as a bookkeeper full time but it is increasingly getting tougher and tougher to stay all day. I'm completely exhausted (physically and mentally) from trying to hold my insides in from gravity pulling them down. I feel I should be taking several breaks a day just to lay down to relieve the strain in my pelvic area. I love my job, but with all this daily pain I feel I'm not being 100% productive and focussed.

I'm thinking about possibly filing for permanent disability....when do you know when it's time?

Does my problem qualify for it?

Where do I start?

 
Old 11-18-2009, 08:15 PM   #2
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Re: Do I qualify for disability...when should I try?

If you've been working all these years you likely would qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDB). Each year, in the few months before your birthday, you should be getting an automatic mailing from Social Security. It shows your earning history and tells you what you'd be eligible for at retirement age and if you became disabled. Have you received that lately?

SSDB does require a full 5 calendar month waiting period before benefits begin BUT it can take years to get SS approval. I also recommend you get a SS attorney. A good SS attorney does only disability (or primarily disability) and won't charge you until approval.
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Old 11-18-2009, 09:53 PM   #3
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Re: Do I qualify for disability...when should I try?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2005djb View Post
I'm thinking about possibly filing for permanent disability....when do you know when it's time?

Does my problem qualify for it?

Where do I start?
If you don't mind, I'd like to ask a few questions, and then I'll reply in detail?

- Are you married?
- If so, does your spouse work? Have insurance via his job?
- If you quit your job, could you survive financially for some period of time before disability were to be awarded (if so)?

Regards,

Ex

 
Old 11-19-2009, 03:42 AM   #4
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Re: Do I qualify for disability...when should I try?

SpineAZ,
Yes I do get the SS Report around by b-day. I never looked at the SSD $'s. I'll go do that. Thanks for the attorney advice too. Thank you!

Last edited by 2005djb; 11-19-2009 at 03:47 AM.

 
Old 11-19-2009, 03:47 AM   #5
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Re: Do I qualify for disability...when should I try?

Executor;
Yes I am married. Yes my husband works and has insurance. So I would have to quit my job now? Living on one income, not sure if I can do that yet! I was thinking of asking my employer if I could drop some of my hours because of how I feel. Boy, I'm really going to have to think about this more! I'm really at a health frustration which seems out of my control. I never thought I'd be faced with this decision. Thank you so much, you both have been very helpful!

 
Old 11-19-2009, 07:54 AM   #6
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Re: Do I qualify for disability...when should I try?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2005djb View Post
Executor;
Yes I am married. Yes my husband works and has insurance. So I would have to quit my job now? Living on one income, not sure if I can do that yet! I was thinking of asking my employer if I could drop some of my hours because of how I feel. Boy, I'm really going to have to think about this more! I'm really at a health frustration which seems out of my control. I never thought I'd be faced with this decision. Thank you so much, you both have been very helpful!
Thanks for the follow up information. Wanted to know those few things before I started telling you "how" to get started. No sense in me telling you "how" if you can't stop working for financial reasons.

If you have come to the point where you can no longer work, and want to file for some type of disability, then you need to have a Dr pull you out of work. I would go to whatever Dr or Drs are treating you and see if they will back you on a disability claim. Just be honest with them and tell them you just can't do it anymore. Good Dr support is very important. It can be done without, but much tougher.

Once you are out of work with a Doc's backing, then you would file for disability. You could either do it yourself or via a disability lawyer or disability advocate. These people are very impt because they know the system. They know how to word things, what to do and etc. Many do it themselves, but again, much tougher. Knowing "how" to navigate through the system is 2/3 the battle IMHO.

Being out of work would then require you to get on your husband's benefits, if you aren't already. Any change in circumstances permits immediate addition. Most companies do open enrollment right now, so that's an option also.

You may check with your company to see if they have any type of STD or LTD plans. If so, they would be the way to go, and we could help you there also.

But, your first step is getting a Doc to back you. Most people with chronic type conditions are able to get a Doc to help. Most people in these type of situations have been fighting things for a while, so it probably won't be any surprise to the Doc. The more meds and etc that you're on, the better your case. I would peruse this board as there are lots of great threads about the various stages and etc.

Just a quick heads up....Some Docs don't want to get involved with disability, so don't take it personally if one declines. If this were to happen, hopefully you'd have another Doc that could help. All you need is one....A GP, specialist....Doesn't really matter. Specialists are better for the obvious reasons, but it's certainly not required.

Lastly, if you do this, please be prepared for a long battle, potentially. Some get approved right off the bat, but some have to wait. There is little rhyme or reason for it...Lots of threads here about this concept also. So, you'll need to possibly be able to survive financially for up to 1-2 years possibly. However, if you win, you get all your back pay in a lump sum, which is great.

Hope this answers some basic questions and helps you get started possibly. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best of luck to you!

Regards,

Ex

 
Old 11-19-2009, 06:52 PM   #7
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Re: Do I qualify for disability...when should I try?

Thank you again Ex for all this information! I will mull it over. My work does have STD, never thought of using it, thank you!

My symptoms get very painful and force me to lay on my back or side to relieve some of the gravity pain. But after about 4-5 days I feel much better. Then I feel I can continue to work. I'm so torn!!! I've been thinking of going Part Time, but then I'll lose the income and the benefits.

I had a girlfriend who had muscular dystrophy and fought for her SS/Disability for at least two years and as you say received the back pay.

I'm going to print this informative thread and keep reading others. I am afraid of making a decision now!

Thank you all again!

Last edited by 2005djb; 11-19-2009 at 06:54 PM. Reason: added to my sentence some important info

 
Old 11-19-2009, 09:37 PM   #8
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Re: Do I qualify for disability...when should I try?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2005djb View Post
Thank you again Ex for all this information! I will mull it over. My work does have STD, never thought of using it, thank you!
Glad to help.

If your job has STD, that is great. How about LTD? That's even better. What's great about STD is that you draw your pay while you are out of work. STD usually pays either full pay, or nearly full pay, depending on your plan. But, in order to qualify, a Doc will need to pull you out of work. A simple Dr's note will do to get started. Then, HR will send forms for your Doc to fill out for continuation of STD. While on STD, there are typically standard evaluation periods, but they are pretty straight forward.

Usually after some period of time, STD gives way to LTD....Typically around the six month period. The standard is higher for LTD, but as long as you have a good Doc backing you, it usually works out. The pay for LTD is typically less than STD.....Usually some percentage of your pay....50%, 60%, or 70%. Depends on what level you are enrolled at (usually have to elect a level when you first sign up), who pays the premiums and whether they are paid pre-tax or post tax. Some companies offer LTD to their employees and pay the premiums. In these cases, the % is often less.

However, if the LTD plan was an election, and the employee could sign up for different levels, then it can be quite high. For example, my LTD was 70% and tax free....Because I paid the premiums with post tax dollars....70% tax free is nearly identical to 100% of my pay taxed (state, federal, medicare/medicaid & etc). I was very fortunate.

If your employer doesn't have LTD, you would still have some type of pay throughout your STD period, which would then give you that much more financial backing while you applied for SSDI via social security. You also probably be paid for you unused vacation time, sick leave, and etc.

I'll be glad to help any way I can. SpineAZ is the best at this as disability is her field. She's a great asset to this board.

Take care and best of luck with this....I know it's tough.

Regards,

Ex

 
Old 11-19-2009, 10:55 PM   #9
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Re: Do I qualify for disability...when should I try?

Just to add to what Ex said - STD plans vary widely with most paying between 60% and 80% of your regular salary. Some employers provide richer benefits but this is becoming increasingly rare. Since STD (and LTD) plans vary widely be sure to get a copy of the exact STD and LTD plan under which you are covered. In many cases the HR/Benefits area bows out of the process after the claim begins and will have you deal directly with the insurance carrier.

In my case I work for a huge financial and insurance company. We get STD at 80% for 26 weeks and then transition to LTD. My employer provides an LTD benefit of 50% but allows employees to buy-up to other options. Personally I chose the 60% non-taxable option instead of 70% taxable for the same reasons Ex noted.

Since you are not yet sure if or when you'll cease working due to your medical issues now is the time to plan for the possibility and gather all the information.

This past Spring I knew my condition was getting worse so I gathered the STD and LTD policies to be sure I planned for what was coming. And this means I had the documents in hand for when I did file if any issues arose. I'm glad I did as I woke up one day in bad shape and unable to work after that point.
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Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 11-22-2009, 01:46 AM   #10
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Re: Do I qualify for disability...when should I try?

I stopped working due to back surgery. I thought I would be going back in 3 months, then 6 months. During that time I got Temporary Disability. It was enough to live on. Then it was time to make a decision. Either go back to work or retire and apply for SSD. I was 42 at the time. So I applied for SSD effective March 2007. I had a long fight and just got approved in October 2009. We only got through because my husband took out a pension loan. Actually it is almost paid up after 3 years.

So, you need to see your Dr. about going out on Temporary Disability if offered. That is the first step. It is tight. But, you just get by somehow.

Good luck with everything.

 
Old 11-22-2009, 09:21 AM   #11
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Re: Do I qualify for disability...when should I try?

Keep in mind NJ is one of only a few states that offer state disability. The other states are NY, RI, PR, and CA.

For anyone in other states they may have disability (STD or LTD) through their employer. If not then SS is the only option. (Except for some professions that don't pay into SS such as many school districts).
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Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
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