Hello once again everybody. Someone asked me a question about social security disability benefits and I wanted to share the answer with the hopes that someone may find it helpful and can use the information. I am always interested in your thoughts on all topics I post about so please comment and let me know what you think and if you have any other tips that might help, please add those as well. Thank you all for reading.
Q: How is it that I have a legitimate disability and social security denied my claim? What do I need to do to get it approved? I’ve been out of work for 6 years now and unable to perform duties like I did before becoming disabled.
A: I was in the exact same situation. I was an officer for 9 years when I became very ill and the city of New York terminated me months before I would have been eligible to collect my pension. I applied for disability and I was sent to see their doctors and just by looking at me you could tell that there was no way I was ever going to be able to work again. I couldn’t even be touched because of the excruciating pain it caused. But I too was denied benefits and I just couldn’t understand so I appealed the decision and a couple of years later, I was approved.
Here’s the thing. Normally, S.S. does not kick in until we are 65 or so (not quite sure of exact age). When I went to see the arbitrator for my appeal, they called in an “expert” to determine if there was any kind of work I could do based on my symptoms and conditions. It didn’t even matter what kind of work. So let’s say you used to work as an accountant and the expert said you would be able to work as a greeter at Walmart, then that would be acceptable to deny your benefits. One thing I found very odd was that even my own disability lawyer (Binder & Binder) was throwing suggestions into the pot to see if I could do certain kinds of work. Why would he do that??? At that point, I wondered if my lawyer was actually there for my best interests or for the government. I don’t doubt that this could be the case where doctors and lawyers work in conjunction with the “system” and get some sort of kickback whenever a truly deserving person or anyone for that matter, gets denied. I do not know this for a fact, but anyone can see that there’s something not quite right going on. Otherwise, why would someone who is visibly incapable of any kind of work, be denied? In my case though, I applied for disability for 2 different reasons, one of them was medical and the other psychological. If a doctor can corroborate that there are chronic mental health issues, you cannot be denied, so read between the lines.
Here’s one final thing in my theory. So after years of waiting and appealing, I was finally approved and was paid arrears from the very first day I initially applied. Actually, the rule is you’re not entitled to anything for the first 6 months of your illness, but anyway, even though I was finally approved, the arbitrator decided that my condition was only temporary and would not consider me permanently disabled so I have to see their doctors every two years. It is now 8 years later, my conditions have only gotten worse and a few more diagnoses have been added to the mix. The last time I went to see their doctors again, the same doctor that denied my case the first time, denied me again. But fortunately, I also had to see the psychiatrist who confirmed that I did in fact have severe mental health issues and since no one can overrule the psych, I was able to keep my payments. But keep in mind that when I went to the government’s medical doctor, I presented myself with documentation from all 12 of my doctors stating there was no way I would ever be able to work again due to a myriad of different illnesses with no cure. But the Social Security appointed Doctor as well as the arbitrator must have had a stellar medical education under their belts that led them to deduce that their evaluation of my conditions outweighed the medical expertise of all my specialists. I just didn’t understand and then suddenly it hit me. I mentioned that the age for collecting social security was approximately 65. I became disabled at age 40. Therefore, once I’m confirmed to be permanently disabled, that entitles me to 25 years of additional payments in excess of what I would have gotten if I were to collect in my 60s. This is the only thing that makes sense to me and in fact, when I first contracted with the lawyer, one of the first things I was told was to prepare to be denied. He said that for the most part, de facto, it was common practice for the determination to be made based on age and not by medical conditions and this made a lot of sense.
On a final note, you can go online and check the disability approval rate for your state and you can see the percentage rate of cases that actually get approved. If the number is low, be prepared to be denied, unless your terminal, and plan for a long appeal process. I tried to speed mine up because my house was going into foreclosure because I no longer had any money to pay the mortgage and sometimes they will place a rush on your case under special circumstances. The appeal process can sometimes take a couple of years and that’s a long time to go without money to survive and if you apply for public assistance in the meantime, whatever funds you get will be deducted if and when you finally win your case. In my case, I was told that foreclosures take a long time and even though I presented them with a 3 day notice to vacate, they didn’t feel that it was a sufficient reason to rush my case. It took me a total of a little under 3 years to finally see a penny of my disability benefits.
I hope this helps and that I was able to shed a little light on the topic. Oh, I just noticed you said you’ve been disabled for 6 years. You can apply for appeal now and include the years when you first became disabled, and although they won’t pay arrears for 6 years, if I’m not mistaken, they will pay for a couple of years before your filing date.
I’m sorry, every time I think I’m done, I remember something else. If I can offer you one more piece of advice, always be prepared and collect all the documentation you need and submit it to your lawyer and/or social security office prior to your hearing and bring it with you on the day of. My clinic wanted to charge me $700 for the extensive amount of medical documentation I needed but I found out that the first 6–8 pages are always free. So I would go to the clinic each day and get paperwork for every single visit I ever had with all my specialists in this manner and I never had to pay a dime.
I wish you the best of luck.