applying for disability without attorney assistance

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mlipps
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applying for disability without attorney assistance

Post by mlipps » Sun May 04, 2014 2:48 pm

My father is 61 and has been battling COPD for a long time. His doctor told him at his last apt in March that if he's not much better by summer my dad needs to consider taking disability. He has a follow up appt next month but I know he has not improved. My dad works at a trucking company (management) near many dirty chemical plants. He can't afford not to work but going to work every day is only making thing worse.

My parents really can't afford to pay an attorney so I'm wondering if, given how straight forward his case seems to be to me, if we could DIY the application for disability. I'm pretty competent at things like this though of course I've never done it before. Wondering if any of you have any experience.

Also wondering if any of you have any advice what they should do to tide them over before benefits start. I have read conflicting reports about filing for unemployment but it seems risky and deceitful at best, though I understand how it becomes a last resort with 6 months waiting period for disability. Other option is that my dad turns 62 in September and could file then suspend his SS retirement benefits temporarily. He has a 401k of approx $140k, but I hope they can get by without touching that while my dad is alive as I know my mom will need it and will outlive him.

They live extremely frugally, if they are able to get his disability approved they will be fine. But high healthcare costs and no raises have made it harder and harder for them to save over the years. I know I will have to pitch in to help eventually but they are not ready to let me do so yet.

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Sbashore
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Re: applying for disability without attorney assistance

Post by Sbashore » Sun May 04, 2014 3:44 pm

I've successfully applied for disability on behalf of my late wife. Hers was a straightforward case, and the money came through on schedule, after a 4 month waiting period (this was in the early 2000's). I'd just say to be diligent in documenting everything in the application. Study the regulations and learn what they are looking for, so that you can be sure to make the reference if it applies to your Dad. The other consideration is that a year after you get disability, you become eligible for Medicare. At least that's how it was in my case some 13 years ago. Good luck.
Steve | Semper Fi

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Kevin M
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Re: applying for disability without attorney assistance

Post by Kevin M » Sun May 04, 2014 4:13 pm

I helped my son get SSI and SSDI (I did most of the paperwork, and took him to the local SS office as necessary). Lots of paperwork and steps you have to complete, but no attorney was necessary. As I recall, he had to wait quite awhile, and then they gave him a pretty big lump sum payment retroactive to the date he applied.

We actually first got him benefits on his own record, and then later got him a larger survivor benefit on his deceased mother's record, so we've actually been through it twice.

You can always try it yourself, and then if denied, consider an attorney.

Kevin
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Spirit Rider
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Re: applying for disability without attorney assistance

Post by Spirit Rider » Sun May 04, 2014 4:52 pm

Sbashore wrote:I've successfully applied for disability on behalf of my late wife. Hers was a straightforward case, and the money came through on schedule, after a 4 month waiting period (this was in the early 2000's). I'd just say to be diligent in documenting everything in the application. Study the regulations and learn what they are looking for, so that you can be sure to make the reference if it applies to your Dad. The other consideration is that a year after you get disability, you become eligible for Medicare. At least that's how it was in my case some 13 years ago. Good luck.
SSDI benefits begin five months after your disability onset date. You are automatically enrolled in Medicare 24 months after the beginning of your SSDI Benefits, with the exception of couple of conditions (not relevant here). The SSDI waiting period has been five months since 1972 and the SSDI Medicare waiting period has been 24 months since inception (1972).

It might have seemed like a year if it took them a long time to decide and she received a large lump sum payment. Medicare enrollment has no relationship to the actual date payments begin.

montanagirl
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Re: applying for disability without attorney assistance

Post by montanagirl » Sun May 04, 2014 5:23 pm

It's actually better to file on your own first, then get an attorney for the appeal, if there is one. Getting an attorney at the start is just a waste of 25% of that lump sum payment in a slam dunk case.

I assume your father has his own doctor to make a report. Don't rely on the SSA doctor - he's on their side.

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bottomfisher
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Re: applying for disability without attorney assistance

Post by bottomfisher » Sun May 04, 2014 7:45 pm

caroljm36 wrote:It's actually better to file on your own first, then get an attorney for the appeal, if there is one. Getting an attorney at the start is just a waste of 25% of that lump sum payment in a slam dunk case.

I assume your father has his own doctor to make a report. Don't rely on the SSA doctor - he's on their side.
As a physician who occasionally evaluates claimants applying for Social Security disability, I assure you the doctors are not on their side. These examinations are independent medical examinations. There is no incentive whatsoever not to be fair and balanced to all claimants. Compensation or referrals are not based on our findings or medical opinions.

I agree to defer obtaining an attorney initially. If the claim for disability is warranted and supported by adequate medical documentation then they will provide benefits without any sort of litigation. These clear cut cases often don't get referred for independent medical exams through SSA. Other cases where the medical documentation is insufficient or disability claim appears questionable may get referred for examination through SSA. My experience is that the majority of these claims are based on primarily subjective complaints without functional impairment and the claimant is not truly "disabled." This is likely why many feel the physician is "on the side" of Social Security. The other issue is that the doctor doesn't make the decision. Our role is basically to perform a history, physical exam and identify functional impairments that may interfere with their ability to work.
mlipps wrote:My father is 61 and has been battling COPD for a long time. His doctor told him at his last apt in March that if he's not much better by summer my dad needs to consider taking disability. He has a follow up appt next month but I know he has not improved. My dad works at a trucking company (management) near many dirty chemical plants. He can't afford not to work but going to work every day is only making thing worse.
Medical guidelines for obtaining Social Security disability for COPD can be found here http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professio ... t.htm#3_01 His treating physician should be able to provide some guidance with regards to your father's current status in relation to the guidelines

mlipps
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Re: applying for disability without attorney assistance

Post by mlipps » Sun May 04, 2014 8:20 pm

Thanks to all & special thanks to bottomfisher for that link, very helpful.

Professor Emeritus
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Re: applying for disability without attorney assistance

Post by Professor Emeritus » Sun May 04, 2014 11:43 pm

FWIW I am an attorney and I hired a disability attorney to apply for both FERS and SSDI for DW. While it was easy to show that DW could no longer work as a physician (FERS), it was more difficult to show WHEN she could not work at all. She was on long term federal sick leave. A first class attorney got the SSID application sorted out and approved Dating back to the day she went on long term sick leave

Skill in relating the disability back to a prior date is what you pay a SS lawyer for. Fees are contingent, reasonable and fixed.

mlipps
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Re: applying for disability without attorney assistance

Post by mlipps » Mon May 05, 2014 9:19 am

Professor Emeritus wrote:FWIW I am an attorney and I hired a disability attorney to apply for both FERS and SSDI for DW. While it was easy to show that DW could no longer work as a physician (FERS), it was more difficult to show WHEN she could not work at all. She was on long term federal sick leave. A first class attorney got the SSID application sorted out and approved Dating back to the day she went on long term sick leave

Skill in relating the disability back to a prior date is what you pay a SS lawyer for. Fees are contingent, reasonable and fixed.
Thanks for the insight. My dad is still working, although he's missed a lot of days in the last 6 months. As much as I wish we could get the disability back dated to when he got really sick over the winter (he missed 6 weeks of work, but has gone in 3-4 days a week since then) I don't think we could make that argument. I think he'll have to leave his job completely before we can file.

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