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About eight years ago, my late husband was diagnosed with a terminal disease. Disability is automatically approved in such an instance. We spent months submitting forms, phone calls, appointments in SS offices, and it seemed we were thwarted at every turn. Paperwork lost, people left, various excuses.

Why I did this, I don't remember. But I contacted our US Senator's office. It seems your senators receive funding that they use to hire people to help citizens having problems with various governmental agencies.

Long story short, the first check arrived less than two weeks later, including back pay.

So if you are having problems signing up, give it a try.
Highly recommend this. Works the same way for veterans benefits. Government agencies get a CONGRESSIONAL INQUIRY. And then the top manager has to respond. All of a sudden everything starts working in government. But you did have weeks of history first, which was used to put you at the top priority, after that.

First rule when dealing with bureaucrats. Get their full name, and their bosses full name. If they refuse to give that just be polite and ask about your status. Then call your senator and ask why you can't get workers names, who will
likely loose your claim. Even if your get there worker identification number, at least it's traceable if true.

Just think of all the ways people can get out of working. Fake name. No secret shopper process to audit employees. No way to track records when one person retires. Not enough employees excuse.
I've heard this as well, contacting your Senator can get the wheels turning.

I applied for disability online, something I was told time and time again not to do, after three heart attacks and permanent brain damage. It took about four months, but I followed their instructions to the letter, including two visits to their doctors and more then 100 pages of documents.

I was approved the first time without any appeals.

There is so much mis-information out there I'd like to share what I found out during the process,,,, which may or may not be true.

You or your advocate are the only ones that can apply for disability. Many law firms will tell you they will take care of applying for disability, but I suspect what they are doing is assigning you an advocate. Then if and when you are denied disability, you have already signed on the "dotted line" with the lawyer. So now when the appeal comes and if the lawyer wins, the lawyer gets a percentage of past due benefits.

Nothing wrong with this as long as you understand, a lawyer and or advocate can't do anything to can't do yourself. You can always get an attorney if your disability is denied. I had several law firms that where very excited to just have me sign up with them, but something didn't feel right, so I did it myself.

Ask yourself these questions, if an attorney only gets paid on winning an appeal and not the first application, is this not a conflict of interest to win on the first application for disability? If an attorney gets paid more because your case is delayed in appeals, is this not a conflict to expedite your case? I'm not saying any attorney does this, but these are valid questions.

The other thing I would mention is: it's not about your disability, it's about what you can prove with your disability. Before and during the application process for disability I gathered hundreds of documents from medical records all the way back to public school. Many times a doctors office will send you your medical records at no cost if you explain your applying for disability. If they won't, see if a current doctor can request your medical records and then give them to you. Doctors don't charge doctors for medical records.

But also beware; I had doctors that would work against me because they didn't believe in the disability program. One even told me and my wife he wouldn't help me because his grandchildren would be paying for that. Keep in mind the doctor didn't think I wasn't disabled, in fact he would not release me to go back to work,,, as with every other doctor that saw me. Just be aware there are people that may be working against you.

Also make doctors lists with addresses and phone numbers,,, and what you where treated for. You will need this. The more complete and honest, the better.

One of the things I read online and I did believe is don't fake or exaggerate your condition. Disability and the doctors have seen every trick in the book many times over, and I believe that.

I hope this helps anyone that is disabled. Life on disability is a meager existence, but still a better alternative then many other countries.
That is very good information!

Thank you so much for taking the time to write it!
Someone in my close immediate Family is a Social Security Disability Master Adjudicator, someone who processes hundreds of SSA claims a month, I'd love to give some good advice.

1. Contacting a Lawyer: don't. When you contact a Lawyer, the legal office will usually simply tell the SSA worker to go ahead and contact the Claimant. If anything, a Lawyer will often complicate the process by not communicating with the SSA worker. To be honest, the lawyer simply takes a cut of any disability awarded, 6,000 or 25%.

Stay in touch with your SSA worker and make sure you do everything needed. Unfortunately, there are many, many 'moving parts' in a SSA claim and it can grind forever.

2. is the web site that will have all of the information you need for anything to do with a SSA claim.

3. The office where my 'close contact' works gets on average 15-20 new cases per week. On each new case, the worker is required to call the claimant within three days. Then the process starts with getting the needed paperwork, appointments, Dr. records (which can be extremely frustrating for the SSA worker), SSA Dr. reviews. It is sadly not a quick or easy process.

My contact is required to be under 104 cases in process. So, if a Dr has not replied to numerous requests, if the Claimant has not gone to free appointments or provided needed docs, if the Claimant is incarcerated, in the hospital etc, the case can not proceed, yet the SSA worker can and will be disciplined. My 'contact' will routinely close 15-20 cases a week, which is very good and she does a very good job but it is very frustrating job.

If someone isn't doing their job, their case load will basically cause them to be let go. Being overworked/not enough employees is not an excuse.

And some of the laws determining disability are ridiculous, the stories I could tell.

Hopefully this may provide a bit of help or insight into how SSA Disability works. Every person is different and sure, there are employees who have no business working there. But on the whole, they work hard and do a good job.
I disagree with the whole, "stay away from lawyers" tilt of this thread. I watched several worthy friends, neighbors and co-workers who did battle with SS for a year or two, then decided to find a lawyer. At that point the situation was resolved quickly. All of these folks told my wife to get a lawyer first, as they regretted not doing so.

In my wife's case, she is a left side hemiplegic (total left side paralysis) as a result of a stoke like event. She was eligible for SSD since the injury, twenty years ago, but taught school, raised two young children and drove a car for the next two decades. By the time we met with the SSD lawyer, her condition had deteriorated a bit further. The lawyer was invaluable for several reasons. First he made it clear that in the local area roughly 70% of all cases submitted are denied initially. Second he felt that his chance of succeeding, even if it meant years of appeals, was north of 95%. He stressed the importance of good documentation and well written, in depth ( multi-page) evaluations by at least two of her primary care doctors. Check list type evaluations and thin documentation are responsible for a lot of that 70% denial rate. He also stressed that you are much more likely to be granted benefits as you get closer to retirement age, and that there are five year increments to this hurdle, as in an application showing that you are 54 Y.O is less successful than waiting until you are 55. She filed a few weeks after she turned 55. We did a huge amount of work in gathering documents and QUALITY evaluations from many of her doctors. As another poster notes, some doctors and other providers are absolute bastards about doing the right thing. We had a pain specialist who told us he would do "whatever he could for us". This same doctor, when presented with the paperwork and a request for a short evaluation on his letterhead, verbally assaulted us, and accused us of lying about his agreed to cooperation. Some other providers were great, others not so much. The lawyer spent a total of 7-8 hours with us, and at least a few hours of other office time. We sat down for a marathon session as he entered all the required info. directly into the SS computer system. This took an entire afternoon. Roughly ten days later she had her first SSD check. The lawyer was paid a grand total of $425. I have no doubt that this is some of the best money we ever spent.

BTW, this was not a greasy weasel of a disability lawyer who runs ads on TV and billboards. This is a small practice out of a beat up old building, a few doors down the street from the courthouse, in a small city. They guy has done nothing but SSD for the last thirty years, and he obviously has not gotten rich doing it. OTOH, he will review a case, and if he doesn't feel that he had a very strong chance of winning, he will politely tell you that he won't handle it.

Advice here is free. Having a nice check for the remainder of my wife's life for $425 isn't free, but it was a great investment. I strongly suggest that, if you are truly a worthy candidate for SSD, you get a lawyer to help you navigate the system.

Great post, thanks for sharing it. I should add I was fully prepared to get an attorney if I was denied. I had a lawyer all picked out.

There are definitely times what you need attorneys. I spent days and days working on just the initial application, much more then the total time you describe. Admittedly I have a brain injury, still it's not easy.

One of the worst things I read was on these forms whereby a person died waiting for approval from disability.
Westriver - so true!! Can you share the lawyers name please? SS is nationwide and an good lawyer should be well advertised here.
I purchased this book and followed exactly what it suggested

I applied on line. After that I called and set up appointment to meet with Social Security. I had name and address of all doctors I had been to for 30 years

I took no medical records as the Social Security office wants to obtain these records themselves.

I believe unless you have critical illness there is 5 month wait from last day of work until first check is sent. This was true in my case.

If in Florida this is one of the best attorney to help if you get denied.

I still say do not start with attorney as it will slow down the process and they will take their percentage.

Good luck
(11-22-2014, 08:52 AM)A SEEKER Wrote: [ -> ]I still say do not start with attorney as it will slow down the process and they will take their percentage.

Good luck

I'm not sure why you, and a few others are so confident that a professional and experienced attorney would slow down the process? Bottom line is that they are only paid IF they succeed, and they only get a fixed portion of your BACK pay. Since the majority of all claims are denied in the end, why would you start the process without being prepared to the best of your ability? I'll give you an example of exactly how our lawyer helped us turn this into a case that lasted ten days, not two years. I had a report from my wife's stroke rehab specialist. Her report was fairly simplistic and ran two pages. She told us that it was all we needed, and it was what she gave to all of her patients seeking SSD. The lawyer rejected the work. He said, " I know her well, and she will do much better if you ask her". We did, and ended up with a detailed, clinical evaluation that was in depth, running about seven pages, and had several times the information provided in her usual response to a SSD applicant.

As a worst case, assuming that my wife would of prevailed at the end a two year battle, the lawyer would of handled several appeals, appearance before judges, and put dozens of hours into the case. For all of that effort he would get the max. of $6K and my wife would walk away with over $50K. If she lives another thirty years, the total payments will be well above three quarters of a million bucks. Am I willing to loose that to save paying a lawyer $6K. Hell no!

Like I mentioned previously, I met many SSD recipients that were denied, sometimes repeatedly. In every case they decided that they didn't need a lawyer in the beginning, and only succeeded after they hired one. I have yet to actually met a recipient that said, " I never should of hired a lawyer"
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