Excerpt from the Introduction of Win Your Social Security Disability Case
As a disabled person, no one needs to remind you how difficult it is to be able to perform daily activities. When you have your health, you take for granted that when you wake up in the morning you will be able to bathe, dress and feed yourself, and enjoy life. You can open the door to the refrigerator, throw a ball with your son or daughter, and rock your grandchild in your arms. Your world is pain free. But when you are disabled, what you know of daily life turns upside down. Regardless of your disability, doing the simple things is not so simple anymore.
Most claimants who apply for benefits share the following scenario. When you were working, life was great. You felt productive. However, you stopped working because your impairment interfered with your ability to do your job, and when you tried to find less demanding work, no one would hire you with a preexisting condition because employers want people who will show up for work on time and be productive on the job.
Eventually you learned that the government has a program where people can get benefits if they are unable to work. Since your doctor said you were disabled and your employer told you that you cannot return to your previous work because of your disability, you filed an application for Social Security Disability benefits, assuming that within a few weeks you would get a check.
Stop the presses! Your first sign that this was not going to be as easy as you thought was when you were faced with filling out the initial forms. This was followed by more forms and more questions. During this process, you started talking to other people who shared their war stories with you of how difficult their experiences were in applying for benefits.
Finally, the mail arrived and there was a letter from the Social Security Administration. It was a thick envelope, which is usually an ominous indication of something not good, as good news usually is reported in thin envelopes. As you read the letter the words became blurred as your eyes focused on the paragraph that explained why the government says you are not disabled.
The following are excerpts from actual denial letters received by my clients.
"Though you complain about tightness in your chest, difficulty breathing, and are on a waiting list for a heart transplant, it does not appear that your condition will last for twelve months and therefore you are not disabled."
"Though you have a compression fracture of your back and had surgery, and had rods and plates inserted, and are depressed, and have pain . . . you can still do sedentary work."
"Though you have been diagnosed with leukemia and are receiving chemotherapy, your condition does not appear disabling."
"Though you have mental problems, have attempted suicide multiple times, and are receiving psychiatric care, you are able to follow simple directions and can perform your past work as a child care provider."
If you have received such a letter, it would be normal for you to react with anger and frustration. In fact, many clients walk into my office waving their letters, saying:
"I have paid into this system since I was 18. How can they deny me? It's my money!"
"My doctor said I can never go back to work. This can't be right!"
"No one will ever hire me!"
Or even worse:
"I am dying. I have a terminal illness. Do I have to actually die for Social Security to be convinced that I am disabled?"
Does this all seem absurd? Welcome to the world of Social Security Disability appeals. It is the land where everything is out of focus and no matter how many times you clean your glasses and rub your eyes, the picture is blurred.
How do you juggle between treating your disability and managing to get the benefits you believe you are qualified for? Even worse, if you have a terminal illness, how do you fight the biggest battle of your life and still have the energy to contend with the government? You already have enough to worry about with seeing your doctors, going for tests, and taking your prescribed medication. You also know from your doctor that stress aggravates a physical condition.
Win Your Social Security Disability Case was written to guide you through this very difficult period in your life. It will provide all the information needed, from filing your claim to effectively representing yourself at a Social Security hearing. If it becomes too difficult to navigate solo through the sea of Social Security, this book provides resource material as well as referral information in finding an attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability law. (This book is not a substitute for legal representation.) Regardless, even if you do seek representation, this book will assist you in understanding the legal process.
Finally, you cannot allow the Social Security Administration to get in your way of obtaining the benefits you deserve. Aside from all the information that is provided, the best advice I can offer is to never give up!