I am thinking about applying for disability b/c I don't think I can go back to work. I'm curious if anyone has done it and if so what do you think of the process?
There are two different plans that you might be eligible for -- SSI, and SSDI. They're both designed to provide supplemental income for people with disabilities, but the eligibility requirements are different. Unfortunately both are full of lots of paperwork to be filled out -- by you, by your doctor(s), sometimes by other family members, and others along the way.
If indeed you think you cannot go back to work, you can simply call your local Social Security Office (they're both administered by the Social Security Administration) and ask which you might be eligible for, assuming you qualify.
If you've worked for at least 10 years, and contributed to the Social Security program (through payroll deductions), you would be eligible to apply for SSDI: Social Security Disability Income, or SSDI. If you haven't worked that long, it gets more complicated, as there are some age considerations, employment considerations, etc. that may -- or may not -- make you eligible for SSDI, even if you haven't worked that long.
SSI -- supplemental security income -- is designed for low income folks. You have to have few assets, no other income coming in to your family, and if you do try to work part-time, you'll greatly risk your SSI payments.
SSDI is NOT "means tested"...meaning you can have other income and investments coming in to your household, without jeopardizing your SSDI. You can work and make substantially more income and still get SSDI than you can if instead you're getting SSI.
But for BOTH programs: It's not enough for you simply decide you "can't go back to work". They'll both test you for employment capacity -- and they'll decide if you are able to perform any "gainful employment" -- whether you're actually eligible for, or trained to do, a job. They'll interview you, sometimes your neighbors and other family members, and certainly your doctor. He'll need to agree with you that you are not able to return to work, and be able to provide a convincing argument to the Social SEcurity folks that you are not able to perform "any meaningful gainful employment". They'll require you to be examined by a doctor of their choice, and sometimes require you to submit to psychological examination. Should you jump all those hurdles and become eligible, there is a significant waiting period before you get your first check, and then a two year waiting period before you'd be eligible for Medicare. (I think you'd get medicaid earlier on SSI, but I'm not certain of that.)
While some folks are able to get through the process on the first attempt -- they've carefully filled out their paperwork, their doctor has, all the i's are dotted, all the t's crossed -- many others find they have to go through the appeals process, and hire an attorney to convince the social security administration that they should be eligible.
You might want to go to the social security administration website. You can see (and download) the forms there, and see if indeed you might be ready to apply.
Presumably you've exhausted all "remedies" offered at your work -- used up your sick leave, your vacation, taken days off through the Family Medical Leave Act (if your employer is eligible for that), applied for and used short - and long-term disability (if available) and still think you are unable to return to work?
...I am not a doctor, nor health professional, and don't pretend to be one, here.....