You Can Help Us Enhance Our Disability Process

a graphic that shows Save the Date for the National Disability Forum on March 30, 2016

As a part of our commitment to bring you world-class services, Social Security is looking for ways to improve how we develop and evaluate medical evidence relating to severe limitations in attention, concentration, and persistence. The Social Security Act sets out a strict definition of disability. Our agency pays benefits to eligible people who can’t work because of a disabling mental or physical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death. This medical condition must prevent the person from doing not only their previous work, but also any other substantial work in the national economy.

Gathering and assessing medical evidence is a key part of how we make our decisions. On Wednesday, March 30, we will host our next National Disability Forum, Developing and Assessing Medical Evidence for Extreme Limitations in the Ability to Focus on Tasks.

The discussion will focus on the level of severity at which impairment-related limitations in attention, concentration, and persistence can prevent people from working.  For example, at what point does the inability to focus cause enough ‘off task’ behavior that someone would be unable to do any job in the national economy? What are employer expectations around productivity and reasonable accommodations for affected people? Are there standard tests for assessing and evaluating these ailments, and who should be consulted to evaluate a person’s capacity to focus on job-related tasks?

Your input will help us further enhance our disability determination process. You can share your ideas about how our disability determination process can better serve individuals with extreme limitations in attention, concentration, and persistence on our IdeaScale page or by commenting below.

facebooktwitterlinkedin

209 thoughts on “You Can Help Us Enhance Our Disability Process

  1. I can’t always remember my name or age much less yours but I could probably tell you about.what you studied in school.

  2. I served 45 years in serving the United States and now am getting messed over by the United States. I served 25 years in the military and 20 years in civil service. I have ran into 2 very bad situations I do not think is right. After serving and paying Social Security over those 45 years the Social Security rules say unless my wife is a United States Citizen she cannot claim from my Social Security. I think I earned it and my wife should be able to claim it when she turns 65.There are others that have not served and wives have not worked at all and are allowed to draw on their husbands Social Security. Would you please help me with this?

    My second request I am requesting help with is my wife will be able to claim the military SBP but the draw back is Social Security will take out 30% tax on it. I think that is a big exuberant, don’t you.

    Thank you very much for any help you can give me!!

    David Knutson

    E:MAIL: toyotamr2gt@hotmail.com

    • I agree with you. There is something wrong with what you’re going through. Your wife should be able to collect. We give millions of dollars away to non-citizens. SS should absolutely not be taxed. You have already paid taxes on your paychecks.

      • I do know that, typically, the spouse retains (unless divorce or other info) the right to it when you pass. Beyond that, I’m clueless.

      • Take your wife to the social security office or Department of Bureau of Vital Statics in your state,file for her United States Citizenship.There is lot of information i would have to review to actually help you.But that would be step one.Step 2,are you and your wife legally married in United States or outside.contact me

    • Your wife not being US citizen should not be a problem. But she needs a Social Security number. Maybe this is the catch.

      • He was referring to foreign countries. Stop the hate. You are so busy looking for a means of attack you failed to properly read the post. Shame on you.

    • Hi David. First of all, we thank you for your service to this country. In response to your first request, your wife can receive spousal benefits if she is lawfully in the United States and meets all the eligibility requirements. As for your second request, please contact the Department of Defense for more information.

    • I could be wrong, but I do not believe that the US Military pays into Social Security & many municipal civil service jobs like police, fire department, and teachers also do not pay into social security. They control their own independent retirement & disability programs systems to reduce costs. So I question were you accumulated the 45 years of contribution into the Social Security System. Were you working side jobs that collected the contribution?

    • I hope you either misunderstood what the SSA has told you or that you talk with someone else who can fix this mess. Hope you can see that we, the general public, stand behind you. I personally would do whatever is within reason to see that your benefits will be provided to your spouse.

  3. When my family doctor said I should apply for disability as I was suffering with spinal arthritis and had just went through a thoracic surgery. I had been told that it would take at least one year to recover. Three more surgeries later I was still recovering after five years from the thoracic. In between I was diagnosed with emphysema. It seems that rheumatoid arthritis has taken up residence in other extremities of my body. I was surprised that when I first applied I was turned down. I did not want to be on disability, but no one in their right mind at the time would hire me. I still managed to limp into several job interviews getting rejected before reapplying for disability.

    • Yes you were denied you need it the most! What is wrong with our system where I work there are people getting disiabilty working like nothing wrong with them why? I ask why???

      • So sorry you were denied. It is pretty much routine to get an automatic first time denial. There are many attorneys that will help you with the process on percentage basis. They cannot charge more than 20% or 25%, and even then it is usually 2 years. However, you will receive a large up front check for the 2 years, starting from the date they received your claim. You have a certain amount of time to appeal your denial. If you file a new claim, that will start your accrual date. Good luck with the process! Stick with it, and in the 2 years you are waiting, there are programs for housing and food, etc. when you have no income or a certain amount.

        • Thank you for explaining the process to that gentleman! But I would like to state, that it is a very difficult process to go through! I’ve been waiting for two years and three months it is very difficult for a US citizen that’s paid in for over 40 years! Because eventually you lose your home everything you worked so hard for and have to apply all these organizations and there’s a three or four months. Waiting to see if you would get any assistance or help, is sometimes still get denied because he has so many regulations and rules, and you have not even one dollar in your pocket to even go buy a burger for over two years living out of a car, when you see people from other countries that arrive in United States, and refugees, illegal immigrants that is never pay taxes, and they get so security medicaid, food stamps, cash assistance, housing, etc, but a disabled veteran and a US citizen has to go through so much loss and suffering, and grief, and fight to get their own so security they paid in!!!!! I have 10 conditions that I supplied with evidence in medical records over two years ago I was denied three times and then just as of three weeks ago I finally went in front of a federal judge, it was told I will have to wait 30 days To 90 days just on the decision!!! Something really needs to be done to improve the process of a US citizen that proves their disabled and can’t work to get there so security, is that of losing everything they worked hard for him to come homeless, and to live under such stressful conditions for so long, it’s just not right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😩

          • I agree.This system really needs to change ,I also have been waiting over 2 years for a answer. I have a lawyer and I’m having more problems cause I live in florida.illegal imagriants get more than me.im not able to get medical help even to get me thru the process of an answer.What is this world coming to?????By the time I get an answer my life will be worth nothing.wish I was from another country I would get everything to go along with the pain I suffer from keeping a construction job instead of making babies.

          • You have to beat the system as many people are doing. Do not own any property, don’t get married. Maintain 2 addresses. Keep your money at home and pay bills using money order. If you are retired have your check mailed instead of direct deposit.

          • It took me over 3.5 years from 1st filing ’til 3rd(!!!) ALJ appearance to get them to FINALLY APPROVE MY CASE!!
            RIDICULOUS!!

            My bestest ever best of luck wishes to ANYONE who has true disabilities and has to damn near starve if not die waiting to be approved!

            System NEEDS EDUCATED PPL!!!

          • Amen!!! When you finally get your money, you have to pay family, friends, people who were kind enough to feed you and your children, and this is after you have gone through all your money!! Lost your car,lost your house, you no longer have the good credit you once had before the medical issues. And at some point desperation sets in and you call all the organizations and charities you once donated to, They are unable to help you because your not able to pay your next month bills!!!! It was and is unbelievable!!! And all this time your in bed, and takes everything you have to get anything done, because the pain is so unbearable!!! I can’t even begin to talk about doctors!!!! My heart goes out to each and everyone of you!!! I have walked in your shoes, and still shuffling along!!!l and this Is only a glimps into the life of someone who becamedisabled. I hope Things change soon!!

          • There is no reason you should be in your car as a vet high speed. VA will house cloth feed and get you a job. While you should be getting in appointments and c&p exams knocked out at the va. Get your disability through them first. Much faster proseses while you wait on the state. Tell the DVA your homeless and your application will be expedited. I’m a proud ass 11b combat vet 100% disabled now back on my feet. I was homeless and so bad off I wanted to just die. There are tons of va programs for us to take advantage of. You got to want it bad enough. Stop with excuses telling yourself you can’t and just do it! I learned a ton having to navigate the barriers of bullshit the va left for me. But over came some difficult times to be awarded 100% in a 3 month time span. Veterans I can fill you full of knowledge kept quiet. Programs Available like this could end so many battles in distress. Vets 4 vets. 4054326985. Any questions at all I welcome or just another vet hear to talk to.

        • The average disabled person cant finacial afford to wait 2 yrs. By then your starving homeless and financial ruined. lose your car and end up living under a overpass or something. thats what we get for working hard all our un disabled lives. them BAM you get hurt on the job, or become ill. A 2 year wait will wipe your savings , 401k and what ever other investments you have’ yet alone to pay for all the bills asscociated with your illness. I scoff at your saying that there are programs out there to help you thru ……. have you ever tried to get housing assitance ? here in Reno, NVnthe waiting line for assitance for housing is 2 to 2 1/2 years long, With people getting ill and the time it takes to get disablity thru SSA, defendly has a large part to do with the growing number of homeless and hungry people in america. Its our money we’er hurting and we need it get on the the ball SSA. Not everyone is faking it or is lazy we’er genuinely hurt and downtroden, why must we suffer any longer ???????? can you answer me that question since we have to fill out an application with hundreds of question on it, can you answerjust that one question ???

          • I’m on SS Disability. When the process started, I rode on the city bus scoping out places to live – I’m talking trees and bushes, not a home with 4 walls. I applied for my state’s adult disability and was awarded $329 cash per month, $160 in food stamps and full medicaid. I found a transient hotel with a room for $290 per month. It was like living in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” I did have food, I had a roof, and I had an extra $39 per month for everything else I needed. I considered myself lucky even though I had paid SS all my life and had well over the 40 quarters needed. It took 4-1/2 years. I learned a lot about the downtrodden and how our systems put them there. I had to pay back the state when my claim was awarded but did so happily because they helped me to continue on. Look to your state services. Becoming disabled means having to swallow a lot of pride. One day you will prevail. Most claims get denied on the first pass, they are playing the odds – just like Vegas, figuring that a certain percentage won’t appeal. Appeal with an attorney – it is so worth it. If denied a 2nd time, appeal again. Most who do have their claims approved. The real fraud is so minimal but is used as an excuse to delay our benefits. Keep fighting.

        • Ive been trying for 9 years so don’t hold your breath. They find every little excuse to not approve you or even just ignore the rules altogether.

          • Yes they do look for every excuse to determine if you’re eligible for SSD. It took me 2 and a half years to be awarded my SSD. My advice for anyone applying for SSD, first get an attorney the work on a contingent fee. Receiving a percentage if they win. The actual fee may and more than likely will be reduced by Social Security. Second, DO NOT GIVE UP! My case went as far as it could, to the appeals Council.

      • Ever notice that more and more of the general public is disabled? I have my own conspiracy theories on that… Nonetheless, SSA has been fighting for years to pay those on SSDI and now the numbers of folks collecting are astronomical! They are restructuring the methods by which they determine who is and is not disabled as well as how much one will collect if approved. And yes, there are thousands who really could have or could even now work but there are always scammers out there who will use the system for themselves. It hurts the honest folks, which I feel includes you, and who needs it now. I wish I could help somehow because I feel IT’S YOUR MONEY AND YOU NEED IT NOW!

      • Don’t make the mistake of thinking someone drawing disability is not disabled because they don’t appear disabled and or are working. There are many hidden disabilities. When I first started receiving S.S.D. I was reported twice. I was able to do a few things for so long. Now I spend more time in bed that out of bed.

    • it seems like standard SS practice to always reject the first claim for social security…and it all depends on who decides your case….that means years of delays as you must re apply several times….and the rules are so flexible the results are not assured….sorry..

    • Stan, we are sorry to hear your applications for disability did not go the way you had hoped. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability. Please keep in mind that the Social Security Act sets out a very strict definition of disability, much different than the requirements for other government programs. You may find our listing of impairments useful.

      You have the right to file an appeal. However, you must request an appeal in writing, within 60 days from the date you received the letter explaining our decision. If you need help with your appeal, you can contact her local Social Security office.

      Also, you may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include Medicaid, free meals, housekeeping help, transportation or help with other problems. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services or welfare office.

      • Really ? thats just more red tape, why cant our goverment of the greatest country that ever was, help its own people???? Why?

      • I feel for people who may not have the resources, understanding or capability to find out resources. I work in the healthcare field. The doctors I have worked for over the last 15 years have asked me to find help for patients who need assistance in areas that effect their health. I am a Medical Assistant and not a Social Worker. We need to find ways to help people through our government’s “red tape”… Better yet, reduce it! Don’t use the red tape and the possible 2 year wait to sort through who you may think is SERIOUS and determined (or has exra money lying around) with their disability claim! That’s immoral and a waste of the taxpayer’s money!! I have been to a few workshops on how to put together a case for disability. I have M.S. If the stress of trying to work in health care and stay sharp doesn’t put me into a major relapse, going through the preparation, filing, rejection and appeal of a SSDI claim will!!!!

        • no they don’t. must suffer from a disability that is expected to last 12 months or result in death. If the only thing that disables you is drug use, you are disqualified.

        • Actually they don’t. If Social Security pays them anything it would be SSI, which is completely different than SSDI or SSA benefits. In order to collect SSDI or SSA payments, you must first have exhausted your years worth of State Disability Benefits, if you worked and paid into the fund. That is one of the first questions asked when you apply.

      • So I have a documented disability, letters from my doctors with diagnosis that I have had for over 20 years . Health records, letters fom my doctor, family and co workers stating that I am not able to work due to my documented disability, all of my doctors and hospital visits and medications that I have taken for over 20 years and yet the SSD says that I don’t meet the criteria for a disability for my mental illnesses and that I can can get along with people for short periods of time (??) where can I apply for a job that only requires me “to be around people for short periods of time” and also that my illness does not effect my concentration or moods. They say that but have no recommendations for what kind of job they think I am qualified for. Should I tell the interviewer I can only be around others for short periods of time. Then what? Leave? How can I support myself working for short periods of time? What exactly do the doctors doing the reviews think borderline personality disorder, bipolar and anxiety disorder does to a person trying to hold down a job? How about the 60+ jobs I have lost in the last 30 years? Am I making this up? This is embarrassing as hell and having to go through all of this red tape to get help when I need it and have paid into the system is disgusting. We need help now not two-three years from now. How can we live?

      • I am a former fraud investigator and can tell you that SS is riddled with fraudulent applications. If you’re really disabled, you get your benefits, it’s those who are lying about the severity of their disability who are to blame for delays.

      • This money is earned by my hard work floor years. I trusted our government to keep it safe. Our government has no issue dipping their fingers into our savings. As far as disability you expect people to be on their death bed. The system is corrupt. I am not apply g for a loan I am simy asking to help me keep a float so I am not hopess. I wonder if tour internal people or our politicians go through the hell that ordinary people do. Not everyone is a thief. I have worked hard all my life and when I need my government to help me they turn their away . Please don’t use your blue book. I am not a car, or nber. I am human being . If you people make this process a better working policy many people won’t end up homeless. I never thought I will be on this position. The system is not a sustem. It is designed to benefit only one person. You. The truth is that you would do anything to deny people. We earned this money.

      • I just want what I have earned. Please read your mission and vision statement. You are doing no one any favors. By prolonging the process we are slowly dying.
        Do you think I want be here in this situation. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to be healthy again. Humility is not your strongest suit. People need help. Take care of your people not the other coutries. Shame on you people.

    • been there ,told I could not work for civil service ,put in for disability ret. usps says must apply for ss dis.still took 3 years even though I had nothing coming because of the 5 out of ten rule.then had to see judge he asked where my lawyer was,told him no money in it for lawyer.so he signed paper .

    • It is not routine to be denied disability. That is an old wives tale. You do not need an attorney until maybe you have to file for a hearing. Usually one is denied for lack of medical evidence. You have a right to see what medical evidence was used in deciding your case. Make an appointment to go into the local office to review your file. You’d be surprised at the information that is missing. Also, doctors will tell people to file but then are remiss in providing the information needed. So if you reapply you need to review your file. Have a friend or relative help you if necessary but hire an attorney? Not until you need a mouthpiece before an Administrative Law Judge.

        • Wrong, for those who are immediately qualified for benefits, corruption in the state DDS’ and in the ALJ system leads to huge messes in terms of getting paid the benefits you worked for. There should be an opt out system of having money taken from your pay check if SSA will act in bad faith and not process claims fairly when you become obviously disabled under the rules. SSA needs to follow the rules the make, not make up new ones as they go along.

      • No old wives tale. During the Clinton administration, first time approval ratings were in the mid 70 percentile range. During Bush, it fell to 44%. Why – because funds were needed for the Iraq war. No wives tale. It created a giant back-log of appeal cases that lasted for years. Research the facts – please don’t just stand in denial.

      • John you are correct I’m a non-attorney rep. I take claims on from the very beginning – interview my clients, gather up all their medical records BEFORE I file their claim. We have a better chance of an early approval. I get all updated medical records & submit all along the to the adjudicator, contact my clients, at least once a month to check in on them, call their adjudicator w/medication changes, new Dr appointments, or changes in condition. People expect once they file a claim that SSA will make sure all the info is constantly updated – they have no way of knowing of changes, etc unless you tell them. Functioning reports & work history reports are key- they need to know exactly what prevents you from working-not just ‘I can’t stand for long periods of time’ or ‘I don’t like to be around people’ … Be specific. How long, how many people, what happens?
        Work history- what exactly did you do? They know where you worked & how much you made but not what you did or how long you had that job. Were you the manager? Did you work there a year but took a lot of sick days? Did other workers help you do your job-did you get fired? & why — can’t be too specific. The adjudicator who is working your claim only has the med records supplied- they can see you- let them know your story, daily struggles & keep them posted on your medical info get as much medical info you can to support your claim. Once SSA sends you to their examiner – your claim is done. They’re just covering their bases – I believe in my heart that there has never been a case approved on the medical or psych eval done by a SSA paid Dr
        if a claim meets the listing, they ARE approved at the first filing filming an appeal – reconsideration – unless your health has dramatically declined, will more than likely be denied plus people usually put there is ‘no change’ on their appeal – there has to be some change listed or they’ll make the same decision
        ALWAYS appeal in a timely manner Please don’t let the time expire & start all over again I can’t tell you how many clients come to me saying they’ve been ‘fighting’ this for 8 yrs when in fact, they just re-filing

        I know it’s frustrating. Look for a firm that partners w/you- there should be no up front fees- try to find someone local, an office that you can walk into and be apart of your process, not just a another #
        Good luck!

      • It sounds like you have a deserving case. Don’t despair. The Soc. Sec. application & appeal process is time consuming. But you are pursuing considerable benefits. As a Social Security Disability attorney I would starve if Social Security promptly accepted disability claims & paid benefits. Their default setting is to deny all but the most obvious claims. This is saves the taxpayers money by not paying claimants who have not established their claims. The burden of proof is on the claimant to establish he/she is totally disabled & unable to perform any gainful. Since the claimant has to have a condition that will last over a year or cause death, claimants & attorneys have ample of time to submit supporting records. Also there is no reason not to continue to attempt to find light or sedentary work even if you are later discharged for inability to perform the job. That history supports your claim. You should retain a Social Security Disability attorney.

    • It sounds like you have a deserving case. Don’t despair. The Soc. Sec. application & appeal process is time consuming. But you are pursuing considerable benefits. As a Social Security Disability attorney I would starve if Social Security promptly accepted disability claims & paid benefits. Their default setting is to deny all but the most obvious claims. This is saves the taxpayers money by not paying claimants who have not established their claims. The burden of proof is on the claimant to establish he/she is totally disabled & unable to perform any gainful. Since the claimant has to have a condition that will last over a year or cause death, claimants & attorneys have ample of time to submit supporting records. Also there is no reason not to continue to attempt to find light or sedentary work even if you are later discharged for inability to perform the job. That history supports your claim. You should retain a Social Security Disability attorney.

    • Step 1—have all your physician including surgeon to write you excutive summary{medically} to the assigned administrative law judge if your case is open.
      Step 2- If isn’t under reconsideration- refile for reconsider 827 followed by HA521 @ local SSA office or ODARfederal bldg.
      Step 3-Have lay witness{employer}write out you vertification medical work performance assessment relating to injury,and capacity to light duty work
      submit all documentary material including use of any medication based on duration of time……If the file is close..Reopen Immediately! Follow step 1-if it’s pass 60 days then reopen new-you might can go forward with appeal..Contact SSA

  4. I am not familiar with the numerous categories that may exist for determining disability. However, I have often wondered if “Dysautonomia” has been studied for purposes of helping those with this disabling conditional.
    Your autonomic nervous system is made up of nerves that control those “automatic” things you need to do to survive. A few of those necessary things include blood pressure, heart rate, sweating, and digestion of your food. Autonomic dysfunction or dysautonomia refers to problems with this autonomic nervous system.
    My personal awareness of the difficulties of someone with this condition is immediate family. It was years before doctors finally diagnosed my son. Today there is no known cure or even a known cause for this condition. A person with dysautonomia can function normally for a period of time and without warning experience disabling symptoms. This causes severe limitations in attention, concentration, and persistence to accomplish what others may do with ease. Holding a job for any length of time becomes very challenging.

    If a directory of known “dysfunctions” were placed in the medical database to scan for patience’s who potentially qualify for disability benefits which would assist in improving quality of life this would be a proactive method of identifying who may be disadvantaged due to their condition.

    Many people who fail to “fit in” to the traditional work environment need awareness that help is available and how to go about applying for that help.

    • The SSA disability determinations are made by using the SSA Red Book. It can be accessed for many different diseases.

      • The Red Book is for Work Incentives. The Blue Book includes the Listing of Impairments. The name of an illness is not nearly as important as how it affects the ability to function in the work force.

    • Wow..a Very Moving story with an obvious ‘out of the box’ type of proposed solution!! ..a very forward-thinking thought which would be a true healthcare paradigm switch in thinking!! I admire you proposing this possible solution! Let’s hope SSDI latches on to it…AND increase their knowledge base on diagnosis similar, like FINROMYALGIA. It took over (3 THREE!!!) YEARS for my case to go through the ‘system’ & only after my Dr called into my 3rd scheduled ALJ hearing did the Judge FINALLY agree to my plea for SSDI coverage! Way, WAY, WAY TOO LONG for ANYONE to HAVE TO SUFFER FINANCIALLY AND HEALTH-WISE, in my humble opinion. Let’s get these Reviewers TRAINED APPROPRIATELY!! RIDICULOUS!!
      KLH’58

      • kay,
        it took me 5 yrs. of hell to be approved on my 2nd ssdi claim.

        1st ssdi went to admin law judge who denied it. disability folks were to send a tape of my hearing but NEVER did.

        lawyer needed it to file a brief to go to appeals council in virginia.

        started 2nd claim and went as far as we could being denied again. they would NOT have admin law judge hearing until 1st case at appeals council was done.

        appeals council sat on ALL CASES 2.5 YRS. being stored in 1 of their many storage facilities.

        lawyer quit me 4 yrs. into this. he never received a copy of ALJ hearing tape.

        i called des moines, iowa’s ssdi folks requesting a copy representing myself so i could attempt to write a brief for my case in virginia.

        since lawyer DIDN’T file a brief, after 2.5 yrs. there …. all they had to do was READ ALJ DENIAL; NOT my 2″ thick medical file!

        WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

        lawyer sent me back both of my claims, i took 7 months reading every page and using blue book of APPROVED list of impairments to find sections that applied to all my drs. diagnosis, etc.

        i sent in a copy of that for 2nd alj hearing. this time i got the head honcho, chief alj.

        NOTHING was mentioned about my chronic lyme disease of 30-35 yrs, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, etc.

        alj said it would take him awhile to decide my case, DON’T CALL HIM!

        i didn’t; 2 wks. later I WAS APPROVED after 5 yrs. of hell.

        DON’T GIVE UP EVER; that’s what they want you to do.

        i have 3 full drawers full of a 4 drawer file from the redundant paperwork i had to do and redo over and over again.

        i’d like to see FIRST STEP where they read all your info; not just AUTOMATICALLY DENY it for majority of folks!

        there should be recourse also if SSDI folks at ALJ hearing do NOT SEND US COPY OF TAPED HEARING!

        we have to meet their deadlines; THEY should have deadlines put on them too for furnishing these tapes in a TIMELY manner sent within 1 wk. of the hearings.

        well, i got my ranting done now.

        thank you for asking for input; now just please USE IT FROM US ALL so it’s not wasted time of ours trying to make the system work as it was meant to be.

        bettyg, iowa activist for justice

        • That kind of sloppiness by SSA should NEVER be acceptable. Sadly SSA makes stories like yours the norm for handling America’s disabled workers. We need an avenue to directly take swift legal action against the SSA the first error the make. That would be a huge enhancement to the disability process and create a goal for SSA to do things right the first time and make no errors, or of course face stiff financial consequences.

  5. Ten years lapsed from my retirement until I was finally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. I received excellent treatment but am still unable to walk or stand more than 10 minutes and there are still days when brain fog reduces me to just reading light fiction. I am aware this condition is chronic and without a cure but I was not aware of being so sick or disabled in those early years of premature retirement. I do not receive disability benefits and, indeed, have not applied for them. My current age is 72.

    • Lyme disease can cause fibromyalgia and athritis. You might want to look into that possibility. A good site to peruse is http://www.lymenet.org. You can use the Search function at the top of the screen to type in any word or phrase and archived threads will come up that you can read through.

    • I am not saying that this is a cure, but…many people have dis-eases that “seem to be small potatoes”, some are tiny intrusions into our systems. But when the body is building up layers of problems over the years, it does add up.
      We are now learning about gluten free, & other food related sensitivities. I “cured” myself of arthritis when I first got it. Was a body builder, then totalled 2 vehicles within 1 yr, very bad.
      Dr’s often wanna try out new drugs, please attempt to figure out what’s different in your diet…sometimes something as simple as virgin coconut oil works amazing results in the body. Both internally (via mouth) & externally (on the skin). Just amazing how we can heal ourselves!

    • You say that u have that disabling medical condition and are the best of our timeline. But go out today try to go back in to the working field and see what the outcome is. If you. Have any medical condition that will show up on your back ground check .you can’t live in the past I have found that if you are 50years or older there are no one that will hire you this also go’s for people who have been convicted of a crime and served their time and are 45years or older and has lost their jobs most of us have already found this .

    • You must have worked 5 of the last 10 years before you become disabled to be insured and that would have to happen before you reach full retirement age. You do not meet either condition.

  6. It took me several times before I was approved for disability with HTLV 1&2, depression, herniated disc, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, & tachycardia. There is no cure for most of my conditions and not enough doctors are aware what HTLV 1&2 are. I fall alot because my motor skills have worsened and not to mention all the medications that fog my brain more & more as time goes by.
    I also had 3 uncles with hepatitis C and terminal liver cancer & could not do any of their daily personal care on their own with several denials on benefits. Two of them got benefits several tries later & one got a call back after he passed away & social security was aware he only had less than a week to live. There needs to be a better system in place to determine disability. I don’t want to be disabled but I am.

  7. It’s ridiculous that there is a five month wait before you can collect. Social Security is paid on every paycheck. Disability through work lasted three months. So for five, you have no money coming in. To make matters worse, there is a two year wait before you can get medicare. The small amount of money you get is used to pay for medicare when you do get it. My son lost his sight, he has bills, he has two children support and yet he still has a five month wait to see if being blind is a need to collect. This is shameful and a disgrace.

    • The 5 month waiting period was placed into law when most people had about that much time accumulated in sick pay coming to them. It is true that one size does not fit all. Medicaid can sometimes fill the gap until medicare starts. Anyone wonder why Obamacare is not helping solve this person’s problem?

      • The funny thing about the “5 month wait period” is its in place to “make sure” you are really disabled. The idea is, you are approved almost immediately for SSDI (which is laughable at how it would never happen today) and then wait 5 months til pay starts ‘in case’ you get better.

        However with most cases taking years before being awarded, SSA still takes 5 months of your earnings even though you have been disabled for, then, years and not improved. That is the big, huge problem with the 5 month wait period, it’s way outdated and if SSA is going to be sloppy and sit on applications for years, then there is no need to show your disability will ‘get better’ 5 months later after you have been disabled for years waiting for them to pay up on the claim.

      • Most people unable to work will more than likely be eligible for Medicaid ‘unless they live in one of the States with a Republican Governors that refused to expand Medicaid. The Affordable Health Care Act is not free. Some of the features it does have is people with preexisting conditions can get coverage, there is a tax credit & insurance companies have to refund money back to the insured if they didn’t spend a certain percentage of the money collected on actual coverage.

  8. Each applicant should have to undergo and independent psychological, intellectual, educational, and physical evaluation in order to determine the kind of work that the applicant can accomplish and for what period of time.

    • How can we ensure there is indeed independence and not ‘the one who picks the piper plays the tune’ going on?

  9. I believe Social Security Disability could offer more information to the recipient , such as a letter regarding disability planning as far as when revaluation takes place. There are many people out there that appear not to be disabled physically but what most don’t understand is mental incapacity is just as large if not larger than a physical disability. Mental illness can very well lead to physical disability if not treated properly. Those of you who think these people do not have a disability need to rethink if they were in that position mental illness can be incapacitating just as a physical illness. Have compassion for these people as they live in their own hell and find it difficult to get treatment because they have no health insurance or no type of income to help be compassionate, and you will receive compassion and return period positivity brings positivity, negativity brings negativity.

    • So basically SSA should show more respect, dignity and consideration to the mentally disabled? You are 100% correct there Beth. SSA often sends these individuals to the rigged “consultative exams” where I’ve heard first hand mentally disabled individuals are mocked and ridiculed. Most mentally disabled have some fear of people or new people to begin with and this is not okay for SSA to harass and threaten these individuals like that.

      Further SSA’s DDS’ demand responses in 10 days, and then turn around and take months to even get a response from them after all records are in. That is not acceptable. Then we get information and requirements that differ than the statues and SSA rules and policy. It’s a huge problem.

      We should just do away with the DDS’ system and have SSA process all claims from the beginning. No more DDS’ to interfere or make a mess of things. That would ensure answers come straight from the source.

    • Agreed Beth. When you have no control over your emotions and moods it is pretty difficult to keep a job let alone have any relationships or friends. Very lonely disease. It’s terrible and I wouldn’t wish mental illness on my worst enemy. It’s hell on earth. Sometimes I think dying would be better especially when I can’t get any help from SSD.

  10. The problem with SSI is that the cost of getting one RETRAINED to return enter the workforce is foisted on the disabled person. One has three choices: student loan, grant, or winning the lottery. With the exception of the lottery option, the disabled person who wants to to update their skills or learn new skills is no different than a high school graduate going to a four year college or community to begin the journey of entering the workforce. In essence the high school grad and disabled person are kindred souls
    we have been sentenced to a range of jobs that will send us to the poor house or serve as career hamburger flippers. Bottom line is, the cost of education post disability will saddle one with obscene debt into the grave. I believe Ms. Clemons inquiry is sincere, regrettably the comments will turn into all day seminar at the Capital Hilton for Social Workers and Heath Care Providers who reap tons of money for their respective employers on the backs of the disabled,

    • Another possibility is tutoring. I’ve been a computer engineer since ’79. But, we all know how crappy the economy got in mid 2008 & went down from there. If you are knowledgeable & able to teach that knowledge, then you can sign up with WyzAnt.com & become a tutor. If you are really good, folks will tell others & it’s a great way to “give back” while making a living, or at least paying bills…good luck.

    • Excuse me! Social Workers rarely make back the cost of their education that is required for their jobs when their salaries are often no higher than that of high school graduates working in clerical jobs. As far as seminars at the Capital Hilton, that is just ludicrous…those seminars are paid for by the social workers who attend and most are not reimbursed by their employers. If you figure the hours we work in our salaried positions, we make very little an hour for the education and responsibilities place on our shoulders. We work to make the lives of our patients, clients better, easier and give them a better outcome in their illness. A social worker does not become a social worker for the money…it is just not there to make. When budgets get tight and hiring replacements doesn’t happen, we just add those workloads to ours and march on. Sure wish I knew where those social workers reaping tons of money work!

  11. The process for getting to work, going back to work, staying ay work is complicated by mixed messages form the Social Security offices.
    I work for people with disabilities; too often they leave full or part time jobs because they have been advised to do so by Social Security representatives. Furthermore Social Security representatives either do not know or are not obligated to discuss state Medicaid buy in plans and/or refer people to benefits planners who can help a person figure out how to work and maintain health care coverage and other necessary services. Additionally, the PASS plans are terribly underutilized.

    • Most of what you’re saying is true. You can get booklets for free from the SSA office on those topics you mentioned.

    • You make an excellent point about ‘talk to a different person, get a different answer’ that happens at SSA all the time. Their own phone system shows a ratio of for every 4 calls you make, at least 3 times you will be told the wrong answer.

      It gets worse in disability decisions when a DDS says “what blue book?” and then followed by a denial that bears no following of the law or regulations. We need to make sure there is system in place to hold accountable those at SSA and the DDS’ who provide false and deceptive information to the disabled. They work for us, not the other way around.

  12. Instruct your intake workers on how to treat people on the phone. Some are very rude and seem to be looking for every opportunity to deny service. The automatic rejection for assistance is horrible. People have to get a lawyer to navigate this system for disability assistance,funds they have paid into all their lives. they are made to feel like beggars….

    • Christy, we’re sorry for your unpleasant experience. For further assistance with your inquiry, it might be best to make an appointment with a manager at your local Social Security office.

      You can also submit your feedback at our Contact Social Security page. Once there, select the Email Us link. This will take you to the “Email A Question to our Support Team” form where you can complete and submit a compliment, complaint, or suggestion.

      • Ms. Jenna Yeager, responses like yours are all we get from SSA employees and the “contractors” as you call them.

        It’s always “pass the buck” instead of taking accountability for (or ‘owning’) a customer’s problem and seeing it through til it’s fixed.

        Considering your likely salary at the SSA, there is no way you are disabled under the rules, so why are you making more effort for Ms. Christy who notified you of a problem, that you could ‘own’ and fix, instead of making more work for Ms. Christy up there, who is having to get a lawyer to clean up messes made by your employees?

        I would suggest: you contact Ms. Christy personally, find out who these people are in your system that are disrespecting YOUR CUSTOMERS and creating more costs on both sides for Ms. Christy and for the SSA, track them down yourself, and then ensure they are properly trained. Not burden Ms. Christy with more effort because of a lazy SSA attitude towards accountability for problems in their own system.

        That is how we can start to fix the problems, but we need people like you Ms. Jenna, to take accountability for SSA’s shortcomings and deliver world class customer service.

      • Ridiculous. I can’t get anyone at my home social security office in Bloomington Minnesota to return any of my phone calls or send me a copy of my file to review. I call the 1-800 number and the wait is one hour and 15 minutes to talk to someone about an appeal. This system is terrible and people who are really ill that need help are getting ignored. What good is it to have a doctors letter and medical records with diagnoses when SSD just says you aren’t disabled according to them. Very corrupt system you have going on here.

  13. Over my 30 years as a disability attorney I have witnessed individuals develop these sorts of cognitive issues sometimes as a result of illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, or chemo brain following treatment for cancer. Often traumatic brain injuries cause such symptoms too. There are, of course, many other illnesses that can present with these same symptoms. And sometimes certain medications can cause secondary cognitive deficits. And while neuropsychological testing can document such deficits it is often expensive (thousands of dollars). So my recommendation would be that SSA offer claimants the opportunity to be tested by a consultative examiner who is a licensed neuropsychologist experienced in cognitive testing to test claimants in multiple domains not simply asking them to do serial sevens.

    • Chemo Brain – the problem is some doctors still don’t believe in it or don’t believe that it lasts more than one year. I have dealt with this issue now for 7 years. I have been lucky enough to have an employer who has put up with my lack of focus and has helped figure out alternative methods to help with my focus/brain fog/memory. But it still takes me 2-3 times longer to do the same work as others and as I used to be able to do. I have tried some of the testing that insurance would cover and all of the results come up as average for your age. But they are or were not my average. The tests are very limited an don’t focus on real life activity. There needs to be better tests available and people to administer them. Prior to developing the chemo brain I would read an average of 2-3 books a week. In the past 7 years I have been able to read maybe 8 books TOTAL! That is just one example – try to read some instructions or just a newspaper – ha it’s a joke. Try to keep your focus when driving somewhere and all of the sudden your realize you are lost. Memory issues are a major issue. It affects every aspect of your life. It is very frustrating because people don’t understand – you don’t look disabled – but in general it is very hard to function on a daily basis. I get exhausted just trying to keep things in order and as normal as possible. I just keep praying that my employer is willing to keep working with me; since I am not near retirement age yet. Sorry rambling and disjointed thoughts are a problem also.

      • When I had “Brain Fog”, took a long time before being able to change it. My best arsenal was good vitamins daily & a family that was supporting me in it.
        Phosphatidil choline, d3 (a MUST w/cancer) & others supported my
        “brain usefulness”? Took a while but after doing the Phosphatidil choline I started, within about 3 wks/1 mth noticing that my brain was doing better. May not work for everyone & there may be contraindications, but…that & D3 helped, course I did have a cabinet full of vitamins…but those 2 helped most…still take ’em 😉

    • Great idea. I had testing done a couple of times for my MS. In the afternoons at work, I often will get what I call my “Brain Cloud”. My thinking is not as sharp, and I can make some serious mistakes as a Medical Assistant. My legs will get heavy, feet get numb and I stumble. My hands get weaker. Per my doctors, I should be working only part time. Too bad I can’t work part time and get SSDI part time! So instead, I have to apply for full time disability so I can support myself! Am I the only one who thinks it would be better to let those of us who can work at least part time, do so and take less out of the Social Security ” pot”? I am 62 years old. I can’t fully retire until 67, but I am not going to make it. At $20 an hour, I don’t make much as it is, to be able to put a lot of money into Retirement funds. I need to make some decisions and do some planning now before I hurt myself or a patient!!!

    • Ms. Barbara Comerford, you make a great suggestion that could be made even better. When an applicant applies for disability, they are immediately offered access to medicare to help them have such testing done or testing needed to prove their claim. This way there is no worry about potentially corrupt “CE” examiners who would be anti-disability preventing a disabled person from proving their claim with impartial evidence.

  14. Only those who have paid into the program should be eligible for benefits. If someone has never worked or worked very little in their earlier years, they should not be able to claim disability in their later years of aging and before they reach retirement age at 65-66. Of course this suggestion excludes children born with significant disabilities and will never be able to work because of mental or physical disabilities.

    • Not even the wives that never worked a day of their life? I don’t agree on that one because a wife works harder than her husband at home and gets paid zero money.

    • Widows and disabled widows who relied on spousal support should be able to receive benefits and that can start at age 50.

    • J L Shane, SSDI is considered “family insurance” that cover’s the “family” of a worker/disabled worker. You appear to misunderstand exactly what the insurance policy covers and make no mistake, premiums are taken out of your paycheck not just for you, but coverage for your entire immediate family (wife, children). That is why your policy states how much your wife could get, your children, and your family maximum.

  15. I have not applied for disability, I keep telling myself I will get better so I can work again. Plus I hear to apply for disability you will be denied regardless then people have to hire a lawyer to help them get disability and whole process will take at least 2 years. My diabetes and heart condition forced me to retire at 53 three years ago after working 35 years in same field. I call retirement, resigning with dignity. I tell myself I am to young to retire and to apply for disability. My illnesses hospitalizes me two to three times a year no matter how hard I try not to go. I am fine one moment the next I wake up blind the next rushed with stroke and heart catherization have lost count over 10. I want to apply but I will probably be dead the way I’m going before I get an answer. Sometimes I think this is why people are denied, government wants them to die so they won’t pay people disability. But this is money we already paid with our hard work now we are need at our time of vulnerability it is hard to accept I need help after I am the eldest and every relied on me for everything. I was so strong, still fighting but physical and mental strength is leaving so vulnerable. Help change the rules and waiting time , before we run out of time.

    • Don’t you think you should apply and get a decision before you condemn a program that hasn’t evaluated you yet because of scuttlebutt you read on the internet or other urban myths? Approximately 1 out of 3 disability claims are approved on the initial application. But it also helps to be thorough, to prepare and to know what your medical records actually say (read them). So much of the waiting time for claim and appeal processing is the time it takes for SSA to obtain and read all the medical records. The other delay is that there are so many people in line ahead of you who may not have prepared adequately.

    • You bring up an excellent point Irma. When a disabled person has to bring in a lawyer, when they are approved the fee to the lawyer should come from the salaries of the “adjudicators” who made the incorrect decision’s prior, not the disabled person’s back pay amount.

      SSA has always touted that “a lawyer costs you nothing”. That’s not true, the money comes from the money SSA has been wrongfully withholding from you while running you through the maze you speak of. Let’s make sure SSA really does foot the bill by docking salaries of these “adjudicators” who are sloppy and then dump all the work on the ALJ’s to clean up. That way a disabled person truly gets all the money they are entitled to and we have accountability in the DDS’ system to prevent wrongful claim denials from the start.

  16. When I was my mother’s caretaker, I applied for disability for her online and I found that relatively easy and simple. Now that I am in Futurecare Irvington in Baltimore MD struggling to walk again I am finding the process challenging because I am unable to get to the Social Security office. So currently transportation is the major issue.

  17. Doctors decide what mental illness is, but what if their fundamental beliefs are incorrect? Their beliefs seem to be based on an atheistic point of view. I believe that a complex triune divine Being created us somewhat in His image, so we are complex beings with more than one level of awareness. And that people communicate in telepathic ways that their conscious minds are not fully aware of. People get away with enormous cruelty by denying this truth. How sad that only the brain damaged people lose the ability to block it out. And that the mental health system has too much terrible power over the lives of suffering people to impose their beliefs on them.

  18. It would be nice to not be treated like we are out to get the system and be humiliated to feel like a worthless piece of crap. I was denied a several times before I was finally approved to receive disability. I was barely able to walk, hold my head up, and I could hardly speak and be heard. My husband was so applaud at how I was treated, he was going to stop things and get me out of there. But I continued, because we had growing children and we needed help, otherwise I would of given up a long time ago and let myself die. I almost didn’t make it, but my kids needed me to be there regardless of my condition, so I fought hard. That was over ten years ago. I am much better and am able to do things for myself and speak better. I will never be cured or able to work again. I have tried, and it set me back several years of what I had gained of my health. I am continuing to get other health related conditions. I will end up in a wheel chair eventually, but I will fight it the whole way. I know some people take advantage of the system but, most people would rather have their life back and be able to provide for themselves and their family and have a “regular” life then what they currently have.

    • It sounds like the times you were denied were from the DDS’ and you had to go before a judge to actually get things resolved. It’s deplorable the DDS didn’t care about your impairments and inability to work.

      The DDS’ are a waste of money and time all around. Their decisions are often overturned because they are sloppy and they did nothing useful with the claim when they had it.

      If SSA would wake up and realize that the states are playing them and holding on to claims to make money for the state, then dumping them back on the SSA with nothing useful done to the claim through the ALJ’s, when SSA by the rules should have been paid from the beginning, SSA would understand why the trust fund is actually depleting.

  19. Make it mandatory for a physician Not to able to just sign a paper saying he believes a person to be disabled just so they can get a benefit for disability. I see a lot of people in their 30’s and 40’s that are not disabled, just lazy, but they frequent a physicians office in hopes they will tire of the visits and just sign the paper. I have seen this happen many times. Should not be allowed and if they do not have money and have not worked any or very little, then make them do some type of community service or something to show that they are in fact disabled and unable to do any kind of work in order, especially to receive their free SSI. I tire of people telling me they are disabled because of a numerous list of disabilities they look up on Google or other search engines and then focus on what is the easiest to acquire. Too much of this goes on endlessly where I grew up. I don’t mind folks that are truly disabled or young children that are born with a disabling condition, or our Veteran’s that need help also. People that get their disability so they can have a free income because they are too lazy to work make them do something to prove they are. Too much goes on in this disability system that needs correction.

    • Disability Determination Specialists place no stock in a “paper” that the doctor just signs. The diagnosis has to be supported by tests.

    • Jean Harrison,
      I struggle a bit with your reply, not the part there are lazy people who take advantage, that will always happen with people in life but more your description of the 30 & 40 year olds hanging in doctors offices to get a form signed to get disability. There is a serious prejudice against disabled people who have what’s called “invisible illnesses”, illnesses that while the person looks normal outside cause them extreme suffering on the inside but they are judged or accused as making it up because unlike cancer, deformities, injuries, developmental disabilities etc you can’t see them suffering/being ill. I’m 37 and have had bipolar disorder over 20 years now and a few years ago was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia (chronic pain disorder), Lupus and. chronic fatigue syndrome after years of symptoms plus I’ve had a small stroke in my past (and have a few other illnesses) but I look totally fine but I’m so far from it. I’ve worked my whole life up until last year (started working very young) when I was finally forced to stop because my pain is too bad and my memory issues were causing so many issues at my job. (I’ve lost so many jobs to my illnesses but I’ve tried so hard to keep working you have no idea). Well now Ive lost everything, my home, my income, my independence, my self esteem. I never ever expected to stop working before retirement even though it was extremely hard for me to work but it’s what I wanted to do and still do although right now I know I can’t. What makes it harder is I get a hard time from so many people that don’t believe I’m ill since I look fine on the outside and generally it starts with opinions like yours. You don’t know why those people are at the doctors or what’s going on in their life. Don’t judge someone just because you think they look healthy to you, you might be surprised by what you find out about them. Being ill and having your life wrecked is hard enough without having people judge me also just because they don’t think I look ill. Well what exactly does “ill” look like?? No one seem to be able to tell me.

      • Add to that AJ, the last thing these disabled individuals with ‘invisible illnesses’ need is to be mocked or exploited by Social Security employees during the application process, or continuing disability reviews.

        The way judges, adjudicators and the appeals counsel ignore evidence just to give disabled persons the run around is disgusting and concerning about what Social Security’s real motives are today, especially given the recent deaths in Kentucky caused by an SSA Judge. And the individuals that killed themselves, had mental impairments, and SSA didn’t care one bit when it allowed their lives to be taken.

        God rest their souls, they didn’t deserve what happened to them at SSA’s hands and SSA just let their judge that caused it all, walk free.

  20. My sister, who suffers from a terrible back issue after being involved in an auto accident has been denied two times. Her doctor testified that if she is ever rear-ended again, she could become paralyzed. She is also raising her two grandsons. Yet, a friend of mine, who also waited for years for a back disability was quickly granted disability upon having a mental breakdown. What is wrong with this picture? Mental illness is the guaranteed way to go when you genuinely have a physical need for disability? My sister needs help . She worked all her life as an RN, paying into the system and in her time of need, Disability passes her by. Vet all applicants thoroughly, sure, but dragging on this process for a genuine need and a hardship is causing this family more pain. Fix the system.

    • Susan, we are sorry to hear your sisters applications for disability benefits did not go the way you both had hoped and we understand your frustration. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability. Please keep in mind that the Social Security Act sets out a very strict definition of disability, much different than the requirements for other government programs. You may find our listing of impairments useful.

      Your sister has the right to file an appeal. However, she must request an appeal in writing, within 60 days from the date she received the letter explaining our decision. If she needs help with her appeal, she can contact her local Social Security office.

      Also, your sister may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which she lives. These services include Medicaid, free meals, housekeeping help, transportation or help with other problems. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services or welfare office.

    • Susan, you actually point out one of the more common reasons an individual ends up on disability, because of a car accident.

      The problem becomes, private car insurance companies want to keep making profits so they do all they can to pay an injured victim nothing, knowing full well they will dump their responsibility onto the government through the entitlement programs like SSDI/SSI.

      Thus, we have a depleting SSA trust fund, but record private car insurance company profits.

      The SSA needs to take a STRONG STAND against these private car insurance companies dumping their responsibilities onto the government, then walking away with profits.

      If SSA had any common sense at all, SSA would be pushing legislation to ensure car insurance companies pay their bills fully and thus prevent the instances where the injured have no where to turn but the government after a car crash.

      Heck, create subrogation that when a victim of a car accident claims SSA benefits, SSA begins immediately subrogating against the car insurance company for the life of the benefits being drawn, that is how to fix both problems. A win-win-win.

      • The private long term disability companit’s does the same thing. They dump their clients onto SSDI and offset their payment to their clients and make a huge profit off the government’s tax dollars. The government has to spend all the tax payers money to prove they are not disabled. Then the private long-term disability companies use this decision to kick their clients off their long-term disability and continue to make a profit of the tax payers’ money.

        The private long-term disability companies sells these cheap policies knowing very well that the government tax payers ‘ money will be paying for it. It is one of the reason why there are so many people applying for disability.

    • I don’t think having a mental breakdown makes it any easier to get ssdi. Mental health is stigmatized and unless you have a mental illness you have no idea how much pain we are in everyday and just struggle to stay alive.

  21. I have mental fog from previous use of medications such as interferon and ribavirin. I am diagnosed with 3/4 cirrhosis of the liver. I can’t obtain life insurance because of these medications and conditions.
    The mental fog causes me to misunderstand information and to sometimes even while doing paper work or computer entry to unintentionally destroy the data base. I have tried the Trial Work and could never seem to hold onto it. Because I have been out of work for so long-I could only obtain night shifts where I suffer from semi-night blindness driving and fear of being a woman walking out onto unlit parking lots.
    I also suffer from major depression that does not get better-but is maintained enough to stop unreasonable thoughts or suicidal behavior.
    I also have acquired advanced degenerative disk disease (auto immune disease) from using these Hep C drugs from the year 2000. I have had 3 disks in my neck fused and I am currently receiving 3 shots a year of cortisone in my lumbar spine to allow me to walk around.
    Many people do not realize when they see me walking or lifting something light that I am disabled-They see that I can do somethings and then start piling more on me ruined my trial work experience.
    Currently, I am a volunteer for Vigo County CASA where I advocate for abused and neglected children. I cannot get paid for this work or accept a position because one of these days-I will not be able to even do this, which is very limited and done mostly from home. I have an arrangement where all my work is monitored and they understand my disability.
    I do what I can to be of some worth to society, I do not like having to be on SSDI. If the ticket to work were more lenient with no expiration date-that would keep more people in the program.

  22. First, something has to be done about the physicians you select to do the physical exams. The one we have here simply rejects everybody! This forces us to begin the appeal process, delays everything and for some people costs a lot of money — if they aren’t discouraged and quit. I’ve known people in terrible conditions who were rejected, but should have easily qualified. Second, the law requiring employers to provide accommodations for the disabled is so general that it’s worthless. I was working nights and having terrible problems with sleep and illness and asked if I could be moved to a day shift. I was told day shifts were considered “rewards” for their favorite employees, and they refused to accommodate me. Not that they couldn’t have easily done it, but because they didn’t think I deserved being “rewarded!” Little did they realize that the night-shift work was the main cause of my less-than-stellar work performance. So I never had the chance to show them how good I could be. And finally, the application form for SS Disability is so complex and requires so much research and documentation that even a lot of people with a 4-year college degree aren’t able to make a reasonable case for themselves. Many simply hire lawyers to do it. Yes, they do it well, but you allow them to collect an inordinate amount of the award.

    • Social Security Representatives will fill out all the forms for you. Your medical sources will be contacted for free. If you have to have a consultative exam it is free. The doctors do not reject anyone. The decisions are made based upon objective medical evidence.

    • Jim you make an excellent point about the exams SSA contracts through the DDS’. SSA needs to draw that back from the DDS’ and take full and complete responsibility for what happens during these supposed “exams”. Often times if something goes wrong during the exam, when a disabled person files a complaint it’s tossed in the trash at the DDS’ and the doctors are still used for future disabled persons to have problems with as well.

      SSA needs to take a strong stand about removing these doctors the second a complaint is lodged, instead of allowing DDS’ to call the show and as they say “he who pays the piper picks the tune”. What you say sounds like a scam system with the DDS’ and this doctor in your area, SSA should immediately be investigating the two and taking swift action to correct it.

  23. I had gone thru serious medical condition and my memory does not work in multiple tasks. I am also enrolled in govt. sponsored research program for Hercepton drug. My oncologist had written a letter to my previous employer to don’t assign me multiple tasks at same time. It is a disability but SS or federal/state/city does not qualify me for disability due to lack if concentration, remembering things like turning off the stove or garage door, not able to remember my exit or destination while driving, multiple tasking or following Instructions. In order to keep my brain active and support myself, I need SS to recognize my disability and issue letter so that I can get the job. I pay close to $300/mo to pay part Medicare, supplemental and drug plan coverage. My SS benefit is not enough to pay for mortgage, property taxes, insurance and car insurance and food, do I need to work part time to pay for expenses.

  24. I am disabled and took me almost 2 years to get my disability. Yes I was denied and so I had to appeal it and hire an attorney. When social security sent me to one of there dr which he was basically a physical therapist and did some weird test on me like hold his fingers and then he did this “straight leg test” on me which at the time I didn’t know what he was doing and after he did I asked him what the hell was that because it hurt and he told me I had nerve damage. So I asked him how do I fix it. He said there’s no fixing nerve damage. I was stunned. So when I got my denial letter in the mail it stated I was DENIED my condition was SEVERE but NOT SEVERE ENOUGH! Went and hired my attorney he said he didn’t know there were different levels of severity last he knew SEVERE meant SEVERE! So then it was up to me to get the rest of the medical information and more test done to prove my L5-S1 disc was severely degenerated and that’s how I had the nerve damage. My orthopedic surgeon which he’s also a neurosurgeon too said I was disabled and no longer able to work and put that in my medical file. So don’t give up if you get denied. Especially if they say your condition is SEVERE but not SEVERE enough! If social security knows you have a SEVERE condition and no insurance like I did maybe they could do more to get the people help instead of leaving us in pain and hoping we just let it go. So fight it if your condition is Severe

    • Jamie, you present a common example of how a DDS’ changes the rules and then makes them up as they go. This is beyond unacceptable and SSA should have stepped in and fixed it.

      All claims should be treated the same from coast to coast, but toss in 54 (including territories) DDS’ and you have a huge problem with SSA employee’s at the DDS’ making up their own rules, their own ‘severities’, and using the Bluebook as toilet paper in the restrooms, instead of following the exact rules Congress said was okay, not a DDS’.

      SSA needs to clean house and bring all the claims back into the agency for processing and stop using unqualified state agencies to make decisions with made up rules. You are correct, severe is severe, then you move onto the listings.

  25. I suffered a severe head injury when I was 17. Not it’s called TBI. I did not take disability, even though it was strongly suggested. instead I stopped the prescribed drugs, finished school and had a productive life. I was able to work up to my MRA without incident until I suffered an attack at work. I chose to take early retirement at a huge loss than to go through the process of proving my condition. Pride has a small part here as medical people GAWK at my MRI and ask to use my scans as learning tools. I also saw what happened to the war vets I worked with who applied for disability retirement-shameful. I do not know if anything will be done about all this, I’m just sure that my decision NOT to put my fate completely in the hands of politicians and doctors was the right one. I may suffer from vertigo now and then, but I raised 2 great kids, traveled, helped others and generally had a good life. Good Luck with what your trying to do. I believe your intentions are good.

  26. My son has autism, he currently receives SSI. That’s okay, but as he ages, I see so much up and down changes in attention, concentration, and persistence on a daily basis. I think you’re better off limiting it to diagnosis and assume that additional changes will occur to the disabled as they age. For the initial diagnosis, can the symptoms not be found within the DSM-IV handbook? That’s just my thoughts, it’s getting more difficult to live with him, some days, I almost feel that I need the disability myself!

    • Thanks for your question. Social Security pays disability benefits to people if they have a medical condition that has prevented them from working or is expected to prevent them from working for at least 12 months. We use the same five-step process to make a decision on each application. You may find our listing of impairments useful. We hope this is helpful.

  27. I am totally disabled and can only claim 5,000$ for my disability. Am I able to file for disability through Social Security benefits. I retired in 1990 after completing 25 years with the Dept of The Army. I retired with Social Security in 2004. does this make me ineligible?

    • First of all, we thank you for your service to our country. Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries become full retirement age. The law does not allow a person to receive both retirement and disability benefits on one earnings record at the same time. If you have reached your full retirement age (Currently 66) and are receiving Social Security retirement, you will not be eligible for disability benefits. We hope this helps.

  28. I am totally disabled and I retired with Social Security about 12 years ago. Can I file for disability with Social Security.

        • Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries attain their full retirement age. If a person has reached his or her full retirement age (Currently 66) and is receiving Social Security retirement, they will not be eligible for disability benefits. We hope this helps to clarify this issue.

  29. I had a severe lumbar back injury in August 2015, and an preparing for a Laminectomy of S-1, L-1, L-2, L-3 and Fusion of L-4, L-5 and T-1. I notified this information to my case worker for my claim for disability, and he told me that he wasn’t going to do ANYTHING with my case until after my follow-up after the surgery! Why do we pay for our benefits if we can’t get them when we need them? I can’t ever do the retail work I loved ever again and I’m so deep in the hole financially now and have no family or friends to help me financially or physically.
    I have a really hard time understanding my case workers denial to even help and it just has me fuming that he’s sitting back doing nothing to help. 8 months later, and he’s done nothing but sit on my file and hasn’t even requested anything from my numerous doctors.
    When does the government do checks on the workers?

    • I presume you are referring to a DDS caseworker. They will often delay doing anything with your case, in your particular case to be specific, if you tell them you intend to have surgery or some type of ‘corrective procedure’. This is in hopes that the procedure will fix you, then the case worker can deny the claim and you won’t get paid.

      What’s worse, in the event you do recover, I guarantee you the case will not tell you that you can be entitled to a closed period of disability benefits for the period you were disabled.

      Your caseworker should have communicated this better to you and only SSA can be blamed for allowing these unqualified and incompetent DDS to lead you on and not help you in your time of need.

      The sad part is, and statistics show it, a lot of individuals who apply for benefits despite being fully qualified, are delayed and denied until well after they have to declare bankruptcy and lose it all. SSA won’t shed a tear about it.

  30. I appreciate the opportunity to have a voice-thanks, for that. 🙂
    I have battled w/ mental health issues, since I was 17yrs old. Originally diagnosed as having depression, it eventually went to Depression w/ acute anxiety, to me “deciding” I was bipolar, at the age of 24/25-it was when I first bought a computer and had been just pouring through information online…trying to figure out “what [was] wrong” with me. Since that time, I have had lots of things added to my diagnosis-but my point in sharing all of that, is that some chronic disorders, such as bipolar disorder, with anxiety-panic attacks, which are not always as animated as the name implies-along with A.D.D., and P.T.S.D….these conditions can often “lay low”-or hide under the surface-so, they don’t always appear to be there, but they always are. They don’t go away. So, now, at the age of 40, I can look at my entire work history, and easily see the patterns of times that I have been unemployable. (The longest continuous job I had was for 5years.) Also, a good note to add here, is that oftentimes, people that have bipolar disorder will decide that they are “normal”- often feel extreme guilt over the fact that they WANT to work, they will go off of their meds because they genuinely do feel better and function better w/o them-(something like that) which w/ that condition…it makes it a lifelong process, of trying to reach the point of thriving and not just surviving. I saw the first person’s comment, at the top of this feed. The memory loss, from YEARS of playing the role of acting as a guinea pig, being prescribed med, after med-oftentimes, doctors that receive samples of newer meds in their offices, will kinda “push” you into trying those. Where again, time has shown all of us, over the last 11yrs or so, that so many of those meds that were new “back then” are now known to have detrimental side effects, in addition to all of the side effects, that were initially known to be possible. <<All of that, makes it extremely difficult to recall doctor's names, offices, dates(!!?? Nineteen ninety…whaaat?), just all of the trying to compile info about years, weeks, days, out of lives that many of us have a tough time remembering clearly, if at all. It has been a very tough, meaningless life for me, but even more importantly? For my son. Thank goodness he has turned out so well. I got lucky, very lucky. But, at the age of 40…after all of the years, of just surviving…and dying to live…I now also have some terrible health issues, as well…and I just found out the source of those, could quite possibly be due to the fact I unknowingly moved into an "at risk" community, that is sitting right next to…Cold Water Creek…a creek that had radioactive waste(Uranium, from the Mallingkrodt pharmaceutical company)buried in, under, and around it, in the 1940's. So, now with this lump in my breast, and possibly stomach and/or colorectal cancer, it sure has been an interesting and unproductive life. I don't know if anything in my contribution offers any suggestions, but I hope it sheds some light on the journey-from this side. Thank you. 🙂

    • Wow, my thoughts and prayers are with you. You have had quite a journey and really did the best you could.

      You are 100% right, disability is not something we ask for and it’s not something that should make us inferior. One should hope SSA would be considerate of it and respectful of us individuals, even with “invisible” disabilities as we work through trying to live life the best we can.

  31. I was on disability ,then when I turned 67 you changed me to s/s. You did not ask my doctors or me about it.. You just took my disability away. That might be o.k. for some, but I’m am still disable. You took away my disability programes at the same time…

    • You receive as much or more now. It makes no difference if your check comes from the disability trust funds of the retirement fund.

    • Consider yourself very fortunate that your disability benefits converted to Social Security Retirement benefits (as does happen at retirement age). If you were already on Medicare, that should not have changed and the brighter side, you don’t have to deal with those ridiculous, inconsistent Continuting Disablity Review’s (CDR) that the SSA can never seem to get processed correctly.

  32. Due to years of experience dealing with the Social Security Administration, I would like to see more (read as any) transparency on disciplinary actions taken against outlier Administrative Law Judges (ALJ). Personally, I had an ex Air Force JAG attorney ALJ with a bias against veterans, because my attorney warned me about it before the 15 minute bum rush hearing I had before my Unfavorable decision. And then I waited 17 months to receive a ‘de novo’ hearing with SEVEN issues from the Social Security Appeals Council that the ALJ had to address in the remanded hearing. Initially, the ALJ completely ignored an RFC from my treating doctor (by regulation to be given greatest weight unless the ALJ can support not using it), and cherry-picked items from a Social Security Consultative Examination that had concluded I was disabled. That was in 2009, and the ALJ is still denying over 73% of his cases to this day. I find that the Social Security Administration has very poor quality control.

    • SSA has lots of problems taking constructive critiques. File a complaint against a biased, rude, abusive “CE” examiner, SSA ‘handles’ the complaint behind closed doors. As you mentioned Bonzai, file a complaint against a biased, rude, abusive or corrupt ALJ, SSA ‘handles’ the complaint behind closed doors.

      This manner of dealing with things is inconsistent with SSA policy of transparent operations.

      Doing a quick credibility determination on SSA in this matter, this would wreak of denial of due process (to say the least) to the disabled person, and would make SSA look guilty of wheeling and dealing to keep biased adjudicators/CE examiners/ALJ’s in positions of trust with disability determinations when they are no longer worthy of such trust, for the purposes of denying legitimate claims that are worthy of payment.

      In my decision, SSA, your claim as an agency of transparency has been denied due to lack of evidence showing an anyway transparent agency. I’ll see you at your appeal, I’ll be judge/adjudicator there too 🙂

  33. I never thought I would be dealing with the Disability part of the Social Security system, but here I am. And I am horrified by what I am seeing. Like many others here, I deal with multiple problems. I take a handful of drugs to control/manage all the various conditions (many of which have the side effects of drowsiness and cognitive slowness), and I had hoped to be able to continue working until I was 62 (I’m almost 60 now). But it has all become too much, and I had to stop work and apply. I’ve gotten my first rejection, and will start looking for a lawyer to handle my appeal. I love the United States, but find it embarrassing the way we treat those who have to file for disability. To have a government program that everyone knows denies most claims on the first application is ludicrous. Especially for those of us with mental health issues, just filling out the forms is incredibly difficult. I have been trying to do some research about the US disability process, and what comes through is that other countries are way ahead of us in this area. Both Canada and Great Britain evidently have financial programs to help applicants from the day they apply. And most applicants are approved on the first go. I don’t know if this is indeed true, but I have read several places that in our country, physicians are not involved in the initial stages of the disability process, that reviews are conducted by non-medical people using only the guidelines provided in the different books (e.g., a seizure disorder is not considered a disability unless one has three seizures a month for three months in a row while on medication). In my case, it’s not each individual syndrome that’s the problem, it is the combination of all of them. By the time I get to see a hearing judge and explain that, I will probably be drawing normal early retirement. But it would be nice, especially for those of us who have paid into the system all our working lives, to get a break now that we need one. I wish you good luck with making some much needed changes!

  34. My daughter has fibromyalgia, narcolepsy, neuropathy and sciatica, she was turned down because her health problems are not visible. To look at her, you would think she has never had a bad day, but she is a trooper. She keeps trying. She has 4 children left at home and yes, she has a wonderful.husband. Thanks to affordable health care, they can’t afford all the medicines she has to take. There was was no reason for her to be turned down. I read one of the statements a while ago, I truly hope this person who is sitting in judgement of other, never gets any of th debilitating diseases or illnesses others have.

  35. I think by my experience one of the best things that would help with process is that when the application goes to the state disability to determine disability a licensed person should review and evaluate the application. The application is to important not to have a license person doing the evaluation.

    • I agree Robert ad the people at all levels of the process should have medical background and knowledge. There needs to be a better system qualifying those who make determinations including the judges. Medical background with documented medical knowledge is required. Just like we have to prove our medical problems those employees should have to prove they are qualified to understand medical issues and be trained and qualified to do so

  36. Hello i served in the USMC I got out on a medical discharge for my back. I had a family and was young and worked from 1994 to 2011 with a back back filed for SSI went to see there doctor said i have back problems but i got denied. Know im a veteran with a bad back and PTSD. My status is unemployable because my PTSD and back but the guidelines that they use to determine social security there is a job out there for me. WHAT!!!! When i fill out a application and people see that who would hire me. Let’s be honest no one will. So i have a lawyer and it should have never gotten to this.

      • Im sorry used the wrong word my status is 100% with UNEMPLOYABILITY RATING and can’t work but social security denied me . HAVE not worked since July 2011

        • Thank you for your comment. We are sorry your application for disability benefits did not go the way you hoped. Generally, you will need to have 40 credits or 10 years of work paying Social Security taxes, to qualify for any type of Social Security benefit. In addition, to qualify for disability benefits, you generally need to have worked for five out of the last 10 years before you became disabled. The rules are different for younger workers who become disabled or die. You can visit our Social Security Credits page for a complete explanation of credits needed for the different types of benefits. Also, Social Security pays disability benefits to people if they have a medical condition that has prevented them from working or is expected to prevent them from working for at least 12 months. We use the same five-step process to make a decision on each application.

          You have the right to file an appeal. There are four levels in the appeals process. A reconsideration is the first level. Typically, the length of time it takes to receive a decision on your reconsideration is about 60 days but the amount of time could vary from case-to-case. We reevaluate all evidence, plus any additional evidence submitted and make a new decision. If you disagree with the reconsidered decision, you can choose to go to the next level of the appeals process. We hope this information is helpful.

          • I filed my appeal and was told it will take up to 18 months. I’m at 14 months and waiting. Have worked paying into social security from 1993 to 2011 over ten years. Also thought being part of the wounded warrior program would speed thing up but it didn’t. So im sitting waiting on my hearing . Hopefully this time i will get some good news back.

    • Lamp, your later comment is a huge problem for those with disability. SSA plays a waiting game of years, after you have already had your time wasted with a State DDS’ that knew nothing and wasted anywhere from several months to a year of your life, with nothing productive to show for it. Then to a “ALJ” that you have no gurnatee will not be biased (SSA has a form for reporting biased judges since it is such a huge problem).

      SSA needs to stop being lazy and start processing applications. An 18 month wait to see a judge, despicable. And SSA considers that to be a “service” to the disabled, come on.

      There is no excuse, SSA needs to stop blaming it on an “influx of applications”. If that’s the problem, hire better actuarial’s to prepare, don’t punish or make a disabled person wait because you were unprepared and have been poor stewards of the disability program and trust fund. No more excuses, fix the problems with the process, don’t sit around making excuses for why you can’t get a simple determination processed promptly.

      • Agreed. This process only makes people more ill. How the heck are mentally ill people supposed to be able to organize all the medical records and document dates and remember things from years ago. If we could do that we wouldn’t need the SSDI.

  37. Ask my husband. He knows everything I forget. Forgetting, also I do not listen because I do not pay attention due to leaving one thought or something goes by me and another one jumps in, or a baby cries when someone is talking to me. I named it Hypersensitivity to Immediate Stimuli and I am unable to focus on one particular person, task, thought or object. , often tell myself I have to stop, I must think and I cannot hear my thoughts. I need quiet. I have to read paragraphs and pages over and over, and feeling an nagging overwhelming feeling like I am putting out fires here and there. It feels like being deaf and I cannot follow, or understand perceive or remember instructions or follow the sequence and patterns of things. It takes the longest to get ready. Watching tv is hard and I loose interest or attention. A long time at the store deciding. The couldn’t even write a list because something else came up, missing exits, wandering around In my environment as well as thoughts . Loosing everything, keys, money, wallet because by the love of God I cannot focus never, ever on what I am doing with my hands the second I put something down. I had a good neurologist and a psychologist team who assessed me that I can no longer see them because it takes 24 months to get Medicare , marketplace premium went up and I can’t afford health insurance. It’s more than one problem. Employment accommodations were like the budget none whatsoever, I had to retire from my government jobs hat I miss dearly and I had to retire. Evaluation at home by a good neuropsychogist is best.

  38. I’ve been on SSI disability for 5 years now I have to go thru the process all over again. I have no feeling in my foot and leg. They want to do back and neck surgery on them. If I do it can paralyze me. So to anyone that would be a NO. MRI and another type of MRI of my whole body showing all my damage that I have. I could go on with everything but I won’t. But this should be enough. I shouldn’t have to prove anything cause Dr and all the MRI don’t lie. What is the world coming too!!

    • Sounds like you are having a problem with a Continuing Disability Review (CDR).

      SSA really needs to clean up the way they treat individuals with the CDR process. Sure, Congress mandates that from time to time an individual check-in to see if they are still disabled, but that does not say, harass the disabled person and put them through that god awful process again.

      You are completely right it’s “their process” not the process congress told them to follow. SSA needs to clean up it’s act with the disabled of America, it’s it troubling to see how the disabled suffer and SSA shows not attempt to accommodate.

  39. You know what is the worst thing about getting the disability, having to wait 2 years for Medicare to kick in. If you are disabled you need medical coverage now, not 2 years from now. Also post on your web page the best disability representatives in the county and state where you live. When I applied, my attorney never contacted me about anything, so I found out I could fire them and got help from a reputable person. Why do some people have to prove every so many years that they are still disable? I am sure you get loads of people drawing who are not or no longer disable, but I just don’t understand. I noticed that sometimes it is who you know in the system.

  40. I applied in 2012 when I had open heart surgery and was told because I had not reported income of at least $10,000 in five out of the last ten years I did NOT qualify! I had the right number of credits according to the table specified but no income in the last ten years! WHAT is wrong with this picture! After my tenth wedding anniversary I sent, through this site 4 emails asking if I now qualified on my husband’s Social Security, NEVER received a reply of ANY kind!

    • Hi Teresa. First, we are sorry your application for disability benefits did not go the way you hoped. You are correct, generally, you will need to have 40 credits, or 10 years of work paying Social Security taxes, to qualify for any type of Social Security benefit. In addition, to qualify for disability benefits, you generally need to have worked for five out of the last 10 years before you became disabled. The rules are different for younger workers who become disabled or die. You can visit our Social Security Credits page for a complete explanation of credits needed for the different types of benefits.

      Secondly, you may file for spousal benefits under your husbands record as long as he is already receiving benefits. However, if you are between age 62 and your full retirement age, your spousal benefit will be permanently reduced by a percentage on the number of months up to your full retirement age. Also, if you are under full retirement age and you continue to work while receiving benefits, your benefits may be affected by the retirement earnings test. For more information, please read our publication: “What Every Woman Should Know.”

  41. I think there should be a better method for making sure the judges are actually qualified to make the determination. Someone other than a previous office manager should be making the decisions. These are life and death decisions and medical background should be a basic requirement for the judges. You would not want a waitress treating you for a chronic illness so why are unqualified people without medical knowledge allowed to make SSDI decisions?

      • “When you apply for Disability benefits, we send your application to the Disability Determination Services office in your state, and they make the disability decision based on medical evidence.”

        And you are certain this is actually what is happening in the “DDS”? You may want to step up patrols or better yet, dump the whole DDS’ program nationwide. The amount of errors and wasted time and resources that come out of these state agencies is horrendous.

        The disability process would be hugely enhanced by getting these “3rd parties”, that know nothing of actual federal regulations, out of the process and keeping all claims in the SSA from the get go. That would hugely help put an end to the “tossing of the ball” that happens when responsibility for errors at the DDS’ are not cleaned up by SSA.

  42. In order to collect disability benefits, you must: 1) Have a medically proven impairment; 2) The impairment must be SEVERE. If your records indicate your impairment is ‘moderate’, you will not be approved. 3) The restrictions on your daily life due to the impairment, must be documented by a reliable source such as a doctor. How far you can walk, how long you can sit, etc. A letter from your spouse or a friend is not sufficient. The claimant is responsible for making sure all relevant medical records are in your SSA file. Another thing to remember…People work everyday with aches, pains, diabetes, high blood pressure, headaches, backaches, etc. These are not reasons for being approved for disability. Disability is approved for those with a severe medical impairment that severely restricts their daily activities and their ability to work a job that will earn them SGA, and for which they have detailed medical records that show not only that a severe impairment exists, but also how it restricts them.

  43. my hubbie had severe psoriatic arthritis. we went to file for disability as it had affected his hands, shoulders, knees, and feet….he had sugery on the hands, knees, and feet, but not the shoulders as doctors said they were inoperable due to the severity of psoriatic arthritis.

    We were told by the lady at S.S. he may be turned down on the first application, …days later we received a call from a gentlemen giving us an appt. with S.S. doctor, we went and he couldnt believe the shape my hubbie was in. He wrote his determination and we received S.S. right away. We definitely were blessed.

    The psoriatic arthritis went to his heart about two years later, and he started having V-Fib. and just this past year 2015 he died from cardiac arrest due to the V-Fib.

    From reading and also talking with others, I know they have had the issue of being turned down and waiting and waiting…we did not have that and I feel badly for others who are even still waiting.

    This may sound stupid, but, heck I watch these judge shows on tv and people are on disability for the darndest things and they are still working and getting disability. Maybe if S.S. had the resources, (which I am sure is hard to do with cutbacks) but watch those shows and then get the people who are taking advantage of the system and then maybe people who truly need it would be on the system.

    just saying…

  44. The “failure to complete tasks in a timely manner” is not a functional limitation but the end result of “deficiencies of concentration, persistence or pace.” Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F. 3d 947 Court of Appeal 9th Cir.

    They are not limitations but symptoms. It is similar to how the SSA’s policy refer to pain as a symptom instead of a limitation.

  45. Social Security Act sets out a very strict definition of disability. The SSA’s has the only valid test for measuring concentration, persistence, and pace.

    The WHODAS 2.0 doesn’t test for concentration, persistence, and pace.

    SSDI is only getting by on borrowed money. SSDI will go broke in 6 years again if nothing is done. It is the SSA’s definition of disabled you must go by.

  46. The other thing the has to be excluded from the limitation asked to the Vocational Expert(VE) is if the person missed 3 days from work. That is also a symptom from the limitation. They must first prove that the have the severe impairment that would cause them to miss the 3 days from work.

  47. From experience in trying to help a Vietnam Vet who was suffering from PTSD the denial at time of first application is standard procedure. It appears that SS is working with the National Bar Association to keep attorneys employed while putting deserving individuals thru the “wringer” hoping they will give up or hire an attorney

    • The problem with the “first steps” is that SSA sends the application to “state agencies” that have no idea what they are doing, and when you get denied the first time, in many states they’ll send it back to the exact same state agency that knew nothing the first time to again give you inaccurate information about your ability to work. SSA should be processing and evaluating the applications in house, not state agencies that are constantly making mistakes and errors and give our disabled the run around.

      Your remark about SSA disrespecting military members is not isolated, and worse for a ‘invisible disability’, SSA will really put you through the wringer for having that vs. a physical disability that can be seen. It’s very sad how this organization is treating Americans who worked their whole life then rely on insurance that premiums were taken from their pay without any consideration of the workers right to opt out.

      • I suspect you do not know how the DDS and the federal components interact. The federal SSA components review a significant percentage of DDS decisions. The occasions when the state agencies might not know what they are doing are likely to be quickly corrected. Neither the DDS nor SSA has an interest in denying people unjustly. Both have the intent to follow the law and the rules as they exist.

  48. It is easy to get approved because the SSA is stuck on an hypothetical question to ask the Vocational Expert(VE).

    The SSA was good when they came up with the other hypothetical like limited or occasional contact with supervisor, no coworker contact, and no public contact. There were still job people can do where they work with objects instead of working around people.

    The SSA need to look at POMS DI 22511.005 Documenting the Impact of a Medically Determinable Mental Impairment on an Individual’s Ability to Work. “Strengths and weaknesses in areas of concentration can be discussed in terms of frequency of errors, the time it takes to complete the task, and extent to which assistance is required to complete the task.”

    A possible hypothetical would be occasional errors, extended time to complete task, and some assistance to complete task.

  49. The courts have allowed hypothetical such as “low production work or occupation” for PACE and “no constant change” for PERSISTENCE.

    Once you get the hypothetical correct, there will be less cases Remanded.

  50. Hello. Have been off from work since being laid off from job of 22 years. Due to past injuries form mugging, I have severe sciatica nerve pain, degenerative arthritis of the spine; these things makes me unable to walk, sit or stand over a period of time. Also depression for many years (taking anti-dep). Do you think that I would be eligible to apply for disability?

    • Do you have “an inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”?

      If so then you are well on your way as that is what disability means to SSA. Good luck though getting SSA to follow their own rules.

      SGA is $1,130/month or more (for the year 2016). The amount has tended to increase ever so slightly each year.

  51. The lazy people are better at getting approved for mental illness especially for depression and anxiety. They read all about the symptoms of depression and anxiety. The more symptoms you complain about, the diagnosis becomes more severe. Then they frequently visit the psychiatrist/psychologist office complaining about the same symptoms over and over every month. They throw the medication in the trash and say to the psychiatrist that they have been taking the medication every day but it doesn’t help.

    The SSA will usually approve these lazy people because they show all the symptoms and have the medical records to back it up.

    • This comment is incredibly disrespectful and offensive to those with mental impairments. It’s hate speech like this SSA likes to hang it’s hat on when it attacks a person with mental impairments and is disgusting and recently resulted in several deaths in Kentucky after SSA pulled that crapped on truly disabled individuals.

      SSA should NEVER treat a person with mental impairments different than persons with physical disabilities. Sadly, SSA does so everyday and doesn’t’ bat an eyelash at it.

    • You make it sound so easy. I can’t seem to get any help with a history of mental illness for over 30 years with therapy notes, hospitalizations, medication and a doctor saying I am unable to work. If the “lazy people” you speak of are pulling this off then I guess they are pretty good at fooling the system.

  52. I am actually receiving disability for mental illness dues to all the loopholes in the system. I never even seen a psychiatrist/psychologist or went for any type of treatment or take any medication. I was sent to a CE exam and got approved with just a CE exam.

  53. I have been battling ssa for 4 years and my observations are that the people that work there are not trained at all. When I was done reading the web site rules and regulations I was able to tell them what the rules are. Also in the district offices there is an unwritten rule that no matter what the first application is always denied.Need to get rid of upper management, train the personnel.

    • Rick, you make an excellent case against the “DDS” system. SSA has a policy of sending all applications to “state agencies” to process. The problem is these individuals are often untrained, show no respect to the disabled, and worse, when the claim finally comes out of these “DDS'” denied, it looks like some slop a 3rd grader shoved together the night before it’s due.

      And as you mention, the ALJ level with ODAR’s and the Appeals Counsel is often not any better, and more pitiful, ALJ’s often want 30-90 days to write a decision. That is way, way too long for a disabled person to wait to know if they need to file a suit against the SSA to secure their benefits they are entitled to. This after they have waited years to even get there. Deplorable.

      We need more accountability against SSA when it comes to processing and paying claims, than a seriously broken administrative process that falls apart often and then says “well, it happens” when they messed up really bad and leave a qualified disabled person with out benefits, or the ability to fairly fight for them.

  54. 1117 days. So far. Waiting for a decision on disability. 2 appeals despite testimony from world-renowned doctors as well as from SSA-appointed experts.
    Now, I have to go in front of a judge (who doesn’t know me) who will be relying on a “vocational expert” (whose only experience is in “mediation” yet is still considered a consultant for the SSA for vocational disability).
    So, I suppose that the judge will ask a question of the so-called expert, the expert will rattle his head up-and-down like a happy dog, and I expect to be denied again.
    This will probably result in yet another 1000+ days of waiting.
    Best in the world?! How about best in the world for bloating bureaucracy and worst in the world for service.

    • It’s sad cases like yours are so common in this agency. Where SSA just slops around and kicks the can down the road hoping the disabled person will just die off or go away. SSA really needs to spend time cleaning house and getting rid of employee’s who slow down and frustrate the disabled persons right to the benefits they are entitled to.

      I hope and pray you not only win, but get to sue the living snot out of the SSA for such sloppiness and careless behavior towards getting you the benefits you desperately need and deserve, and more so, are entitled to.

  55. The SSA is giving away the free disability income. It wasn’t hard to get approved. I never seen a psychiatrist/psychologist for treatment or take any medication. I got approved for mental illness with just a CE exam.

    My ALJ only approved 26% of her cases at the time I got approved. Now she is down to 24%. Her ODAR office average is 43%. The other ALJs are just giving aways the free disability income.

    All the ODAR office should be averaging similar to Alaska ODAR. They do things correct there.

  56. Simple, low stress, low production, no constant change, occasional supervision, no coworker contact, no general public contact, unskilled sedentary work pays close to minimum wage.

    There are plenty of these jobs in the national economy because no one wants these jobs and employers are willing to hire anyone just to fill the position.

    They young people could aways get a job in military. The militry is not to picky since no one wants to join. I was written up for dereliction of duty in the military. Failed all my test to the point where they told me that I could have guess the test and gotten more correct. Instead of just kicking me out, they offered me a job in the Reserve which I declined.

  57. A lazy person would also show the same signs of concentration, persistence, and pace.

    Failure to complete task on time, asking other to do their work, low production level, and resistance to changes.

  58. When someone is proven to be permanently disabled, there should instantly be no review. I should be on the 5-7 yr not the 3-5 just because I am young. The medical board meeds to be more knowledgeable about neuromuscular disorders like Generalized Dystonia & autoimmune issues.

    • Angela, you are so right. SSA should be more considerate of the disabled with their ridiculous Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR).

      CDR’s are not only extremely stressful on the disabled, making more paperwork to push, but often can cause anxiety and stress because SSA tries to do them behind closed doors and leaves the disabled person out of the input.

      SSA will often sit on CDR’s for months, stressing out the disabled person, while SSA tries to find reasons to kick the individual off the program. It’s very frightening how SSA conducts these things and extremely inconsiderate of the disabled persons feelings and needs.

  59. The SSA won’t pay for certain testing. An old friend of mine paid off some doctor for phony test results and got approved. Since the CE doctor can’t perform the test, they can only go by the phony test results.

  60. The test of serial seven is not enough. Another test method would be stacking three wooden building block where they don’t fall over. That will simulate a working environment filling items on selves without them falling over.

  61. The test should also include index cards with numbers or letters of the alphabet. They would put these index card in alphabetical order or number starting from one. Index cards are mention in 12.00 Mental Disorder under concentration, persistence, and pace.

  62. When an individual is awarded a compassionate allowance for disability for terminal cancer, there should NEVER be a two-year waiting period for Medicare. A family member has terminal pancreatic cancer and was completely unable to work at time of filing and was also advised to contact a Hospice care. No job, NO health insurance, and the way the system is now, NO Medicare for two years. This is unbelievable and so wrong. Medicare should be awarded along with disability of this sort as an automatic pay the same as with Dialysis. This person needs insurance coverage more than ever, but is denied Medicare because regs are not updated etc., to include the compassionate allowance category. Please do something about this; get this corrected to assist these terminal beneficiaries.

    • This is the ssa.gov.. You need to go to medicare.gov and complain over there. They can’t do nothing over there either. They can’t change the law. Complain to your Congressman.

  63. Ms. Clemons, I am an attorney practicing before the SSA, and wanted to commend you all on your great improvements in the online appeal process. I especially like that I can now upload my 1696, 827, etc., while submitting the appeal. I believe that this will decrease duplication of forms sent to the district offices immensely!

    Would you consider similarly streamlining the online initial application process? Currently, my practice is to submit my clients’ IA online, and then mail the cover sheet with signed paper forms SSA-16-BK and 8001 if necessary, and their other forms to our district office. It would be a lot easier for your insurance specialists if we could submit all of those forms online during the application process.

    Thanks for all of your hard work!

  64. Hey. All the SSI or SSD is blowing smoke. As long as they get over 100 thousand a year for pay they can put anything in front of old people and they will believe it. Don’t believe everything someone tells you. Hope you have a great day 😆😆😆

    • This blog states, “You can share your ideas about how our disability determination process can better serve individuals with extreme limitations in attention, concentration, and persistence on our IdeaScale page or by commenting below.”

      All they got were complaints. At least I gave some ideas.

      • Your ideas were on how easy it was for you to get benefits without the doctors diagnosis or a history of medications for a serious illness. I don’t think you have helped anything except to prove how effed up this system is for the people who really have a disability.

  65. I came to my SSA (SSDI) benefits through an unconventional process showing me that the agency is run by real people and not simply by rigid rules and regulations. I can only hope that those on the front lines in the SSA offices across the country continue to have the freedom and flexibility to make decisions based on the circumstances presented them. I also hope that unscrupulous lawyers in the pockets of unscrupulous judges making determinations that profit each other for profit will be diminished for the sake of every American citizen’s pocketbook.

  66. Social Security Horror Story–Still Denied—My husband has been disabled and unable to work since 2009. He worked hard, paid into Social Security ever week. My oldest son was 10 and two other younger daughters at the time. My children have had to grow up so poor. This breaks my heart so bad. I am just the mom and we don’t make as much as men. God knows I tried and scrubbed toilets til 2 am, but that doesn’t cut it anymore. My husband had the higher paying job before he was disabled. My jobs were sporadic and didn’t pay well. God’s grace took care of us every day we are alive. Social Security is a lie and they take money from my pay check, but they won’t even do the right thing for my family. My oldest son is graduating in a few weeks. It is a bitter pill that the government lied to us and took money that should be for our kids and they never got it. My son will never ever get those years back. I depended on my son every day just to make it. Yes, I depended on a 10 year old boy because who else was I supposed to turn to when my husband can’t even dress or bathe himself? Social Security didn’t care if all 5 of us froze in Winter or died of heat in Summer. Now that boy is grown and all these years they keep taking money and taking money and denying and denying. LIARS LIARS LIARS that is all they are. My daughters are 16 and 13. I have no doubt that my childrens entire life will have been spent in destitution because Social Security is a lie. That would be one thing, but the WORST is I get paid every week and you know who is taking a share of that money.??? Social Security. 🙁

    • Jennie, you are 100% correct. SSA needs to remember they work for us, not the other way around. You paid your premiums and look where it got you. I hope you never stop fighting them and I’m praying you defeat the SSA one day very soon. The people who treated you this badly should be appalled and terminated, knowing the inner workings of the SSA, they probably threw a party at how they treated you and your family and the results from it.

  67. Neuropsychologists such as Sheila Bastien, PhD, specialize in functional evaluations of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) patients and their ability to focus on tasks. In spite of the resulting detailed report and SSR 14-1p: Titles II and XVI: Evaluating Cases Involving Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Effective Date: April 3, 2014, https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/rulings/di/01/SSR2014-01-di-01.html – the SSA has utterly failed ME/CFS patients in particular.

  68. Yo entiendo los comentarios y me miró en ese espejo de todos ustedes ,lo que no e tiendo es porque darle tanta vuelta a un mismo problema ,entiendo que hay más preguntas que respuestas a tantas preguntas de personas que hablan con mucha verdad por las esperiencias difíciles por la que han tenido que pasar para poder sobrevivir con una emfermedad o discapacidad durante anos sin poder trabajar y sin tener una entrada económica para sobrevivir ,con esto quiero desir al seguro social, y creo con mayor respeto ,a lo que se refieren si dudan de la incapacidad o discapacidad de una persona ,tratando de generalizar de que todas las personas cometen frsude o sus médicos para tener benificios del SSA ,sus clientes es algo bochornoso o denigrante en el 1 er país del mundo ,ustedes deberían entonces que tener el personal con las herramientas realmente justas para evaluar una persona enferma y no ponerla en ex tela de juicio y la duda, creo que todo ciudadano de este país merese un respeto.

  69. Aftet 3 years of pending to be approved for SDI, my uncle was approved by ALJ last month and was told to bring statement for 3 years from the bank and prove how he paid his bills. His former roomate paid the half of his rent for only 6months, the examiner was very rood and was prying him to say that their were living together as a husband snd wife, even she is not living with him for more than 2 years. The officer wanted to know her social security number, where does she works and does she has Bank account. Do you think it was correct to ask about the person who was sharing a room, he was receiving Food Stamp by himself.Plus she was working as HHA overnigt and came home only once in 2 weeks. When the officer asked him how he paid the bills, he told him the he had some money saved before becoming sick and stop working, but now the money is gone, plus some family members was paying some of his bills.Because of some memory problems, he didn’t remember what happened 3 years ago, so he was forcing him to get The Reprep.Payee? He wsnts to know how his bills for 3 year, that he applied were paid. What he should do if he didn’t keep them?

  70. other severe limits to working in addition to concentration, etc are neurological limits, like judgment of what someone else wants, visual spatial, visual perceptual; motor skill limits, limits in auditory processing, chronic pain, and mobility limits and needs for personal assistance to get around

  71. If you really want to improve the process, you should try speeding things up and stop rubber stamping denials to people who really need it. I have Epilepsy which affects m severely in my ability to work full time, plus an extremely painful nerve condition in my foot. I’ve been getting treatment for these for a year and a half, yet SS seems to think im fit to work full time. I can’t drive because of my condition, my meds have turned me into a zombie with horrible memory issues. I can barely walk on some days due to foot pain and it often keeps me up at night. Because I have bills to pay, im forced to stay at my retail job which I had to reduce to under 16 hours a week. Even half that is usually extremely taxing not only because my conditions, but because I have to downplay my limitations at work and push myself which in turn makes things worse. I’d love to ask someone at Social Security who they think wants to hire an epileptic doped up on meds with a foot condition that makes it difficult to stay on my feet. Do they really think there’s a job market for people like me? Especially with no high school diploma special training of any sort. Im blessed being able to get help from my parents, but if something were to happen to them, im out on the streets. I really don’t know how some of you can sleep at night knowing that you’re destroying lives. I’d really like the people who work at SS to take a real look at how their choices impact lives and potentially ruin them. Think about how many people have died, or even committed suicide because of your denials when they really needed it.

  72. Listen
    Problem is the system. The way is set up you are in a loose loose situation. People need to live, pay medical cost and so on.
    We have worked all of our lives so begging for what is ours in our time of need is sad. I feel sad and disgusted that my country treat me this way.
    You rather put me food stamps. I have didnity. I have pride. I rather die . So please listen to people. Hear their pain and stand up and do the right thing

  73. I don’t know why everyone is yelling at people who work there. They follow process. If you want get mad go to your elected officials.
    The people in Ssdi should not get the treatment bc our government is the issue. I just like many am wziting. But being rude is not going to resolve anything.
    You want change the system make noise and yell at the right people. These people are just doing what they are told.

  74. Very nice and informative article here. Cool to read such a well-considered article! I am sure at least once in your life you had to fill out a form. I use a simple service https://goo.gl/UdqYkN for forms filling. It definitely makes my life easier!

  75. been working for thirty years in the hospital and had my early retirement three years ago I also, work in food and beverages more or less twenty five years., also had experienced on clerical jobs and knowledge in computers . I’m receiving social security benefits. I get board and wanted to learn more. Please, let me know if you have any volunteer jobs available. I’m bilingual. Thank you for your kind consideration.

Leave a Reply - (comment policy)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *