Posted 4/15/2021 4:13 PM (GMT -6)
I realize that this is a LATE post, but I
thought I’d share the experiences I had and decisions I made as I applied for disability.
I went through process 7 years ago. I was lucky enough to still be working when it became clear I couldn’t work anymore, so I had private disability insurance through my employer. Even with the disability insurance, I had no income for 6 months (I live alone). The stress of that period in my life was BRUTAL. It took years for me to get back to my shaky version of even footing financially. I almost wiped out my retirement savings during and after the process.
I have one recommendation. Find a good attorney who specializes in applying for disability benefits. I would check to see if the rules have changed, but I had a set amount I had to pay the lawyer ($6000).
The Social Security Disability process took 1.5 years for me, but once I was declared “fully disabled,” Social Security paid my monthly benefits retroactive to the date that I left my job. That was a nice size check. The lawyer was paid out of the back disability payment check.
There are laws that govern the attorney to disabled person’s financial relationship during the application process so that there’re no surprise bills at the end of the process. They can charge you for expenses. I recall that number being quite reasonable.
You need to be sure that you’ll get declared disabled, though. If you don’t get the benefits, you’ll still have to pay the lawyer the $6k fee.
Having a lawyer represent me is the only reason that I didn’t loose my mind during the wait. From the beginning, my lawyer went through my illnesses with me carefully to be sure that I had a case before agreeing to represent me. I think that process was critical. If the lawyer says you have no chance it’s a good idea to believe him or her. You can always go back to your doctor to make sure your illness(s) are properly documented and try again with the lawyer because you don’t want to wait 1.5 years, get denied and then start all over again.
I read that the chances of success with a disability being approved go up substantially when a lawyer is hired to represent the patient. I believe that’s true.
During my disability hearing, I was asked questions by the judge and the other folks working for SSD. None of them wanted to hear the lawyer speak. But that varies GREATLY, depending on what judge you get.
Truthfully, I don’t believe that I truly needed the lawyer - my illnesses spoke for themselves. But the stakes can be so high for a positive outcome in the hearings. If I had it all over to do again, I would still have the lawyer there, sitting by my side. I think it’s a worthwhile expense for the peace of mind.