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Social security disability/my wife

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
My wife is is severe pain 24/7 with her back and her hands. We believe she may have RA. It gets harder for her to go to work everyday, at some point she will not be able at all.
What is the possibility of her getting Social security disability with the following conditions?

Severe DDD
Severe osteo arthritis
RA/hands and feet

The scoliosis has her disc space heights all messed up, on one side the height's at multiple levels in the lumbar region are very high and on the other just milimeters. Not sure of the exact measurements, because she has not had an mri, all this showed up in an x-ray so I could just imagine what wouls show up in an mri. She has worked 20+ years in banking and as an insurance agent, at this point she hurts so bad all the time we need to get her out of work and on a path to recovery, I would be blessed if we could just get her out of pain for one night because it effects me as well.

Any wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!



  • Hi JOJO sorry to hear about your wife I don't know much about SS but I can tell you from reading post on hear that they tend to deny just about everyone on the first try so don't get discouraged if they deny at first stick with it .From what I have dealt with with any government run program is they deny you at first hoping you will just give up and go away but stick with it your wife deserves it , Funny how they take your money real fast for taxes and you have to fight to get what you pay into them.Good luck and don't let them get you down.
  • As long as she has her docs 100% behind her she will most likely get SSD. She must be persistent and get an attorney if she is denied the 1st time. Does she have STD or LTD through her employer? If so, that may help her to get by while she waits to be approved for SSD. Good luck.
  • I think it's a great idea for your wife to get SSI and I think she has a very good chance of winning her case. I got it when I was in my late twenties and it was for a non back relative health problem. The only thing that my attorney said would count against me was my age, but in about 3 years I won. It took 15 minutes to present my case and answer a couple questions before the administrative judge. This process takes patience and perseverance, but I doubt it will take that long for your wife in light of all her problems. I say, go for it- the sooner the better. Take care buddy
  • All I can say is be honest, say your prayers, ask for prayers, and be honest. It is possible to get through without being denied! You don't know whether or not you will need an attorney, unless you will need one. It may not be a matter of just one doctor behind you. It may require three doctors. Also, SSI does have the right to send your wife to an independent medical exam - yah, it can be a psychological exam. And, then your wife may get some diagnosis she never got before, that may not even be true. But, if the IME approves of the facts that are mentioned, and is on her toes of any tricks that the examiner may ask her to do. Basically, don't do anything in an IME that she normally cannot do. If she is given a script for a cane, then bring it to the IME, etc. If pain is daily, that is a factor to be stated in the IME. It is a true fact. Has she ever been diagnosed for Fibromyalgia? Is that a factor to come into play? No matter what, turn it over to the care of your Higher Power! It makes all the difference.
  • Hi JoJo -

    I sure hate to hear about your wife. RA is a nasty condition to have.

    Social Security disability is difficult to get - that much is true. WHile the program requirements are the same across the board, each individual case is different.

    In order to be approved for disability, her condition has to be SO severe, that it prevents her from performing work activities. It's not enough that she can no longer perform her past work - she has to be unable to perform ANY work, WITHIN THE NATIONAL ECONOMY.

    It's true, also, that it helps if your doctor is behind you. BUT, that means nothing without the documented lab work and xrays, MRI reports, etc. What I am trying to say is that just a diagnosis alone is not sufficient to be considered disabled. There has to be functional limitations as well. They (Social Security Administration) also consider whether a patient is following prescribed treatment and how they are responding to treatment and medication. I worked claims where individuals mistakenly thought that having been diagnosed with something that required they take medication for the rest of their lives was enough to be considered disabled. If their condition is managed sufficiently and they are responding well to treatment and/or medication and can function well enough to carry out their usual daily activities without assistance, they are not considered disabled.

    For Rheumatoid Arthritis, she has to have certain blood work and xrays to show the severity of the arthritis. Also, how severely it effects her ability to sit, stand, walk, and use her arms and hands.

    For scoliosis, the curve in her spine has to be at least 50 degrees. If it's not, they do consider whether the curve is affecting her ability to breath or sit/stand/move about.

    Age, education and past work history plays a part as well. The approval rate for individuals 50 and over is higher than for "younger" individuals. What kind of work an individual has performed in their life also plays a part. Did they perform job duties that could be "transferred" to a job that is physically/mentally less demanding?

    The very first step in the adjudication process for disability is to determine whether an individual is working and earning what is considered substantial and gainful employment. If the answer is yes, then the claim is denied.

    Second step is to determine whether the individual has a severe mental or physical impairment. If the answer is no, the claim is denied.

    If the answer is Yes, then the third step is to determine whether the impairment/s meet or equal any of the impairments listed in the "Blue Book". If the answer is Yes, the claim is approved.

    If the answer is No, then the disability office has to determine in the fourth step whether the claimant could perform his/her past work? If the answer is yes, the claim is denied.

    If the answer is No, then the fifth and final step is to determine whether the individual can perform OTHER work. If the answer is No, the claim is approved. If the answer is Yes, then the claim is denied.

    I am sorry if I bored you with all of this information. I just wanted you to know the criteria required and the steps involved in the decision making process. I hope your wife is approved. But, then again, I know how emotions can turn from happy that the financial burden has been lifted, to being sad at being disabled.

    I wish you both luck. Keep us posted on how it goes for her, okay?

    Have a great day

  • Hi jojo,

    The problems or issues you present on behalf of your wife are not what will determine if she gets SSDI.
    It will be determined by the doctor notes that a) state she has xyz; b)xyz interferes with her ability to work; and c) there is no other work she can do as a result. A state doctor as well as an occupational therapist will be present at hearing, altho my OT seemed to be there for decoration as she had nothing to say!

    So what you need to do is, she will need to fill out massive paperwork, along with a family member or close friend not living with her. Both of you (your wife + chosen family member/friend) need to make the her seem as if she is at death's door. Put down everything negative you can think of. By way of example, she is housebound in pain, depressed (that's a good one b/c it so subjective) but just make sure the doctor notes correlate with that, meaning she has complained to him/her. Medication has been ordered or some sort of therapy, whatever is applicable in her case.
    The biggest problem is the documentation. Having been thru the procedure myself, I highly recommend you get ALL the records YOURSELF, including labs, x-rays, MRIs etc) and submit them at your intake interview. (you can download the form online so that you will know what the questions will be they will ask). Depending on where you live and how backed up they are, and if you do exactly as I suggest, you should have it within 4-6 weeks. I did. (Despite 90% being rejected first time. I believe the argument is no documentation or not enough. Call everyday if needed to make sure they have everything they need). I did need to fight the disability date however. But that was NOT SS fault. My doctor had retired and his office was closed when I needed a particular set of documents. I therefore had to appeal because I needed the Medicare, so I needed the actual disability date pushed back 2.5 years. I called twice a week and got a hearing within 3 months. (I was getting disability pay during this time however). It was that long to get hearing because they lost the doctor notes. However, since I had brought copies to my intake interview, he was able to get them over to SS court sooner. I did not get an attorney because I know my problems better than anyone. The judge ruled in my favor BUT SS deducted attorney fees of $5k from my back pay (and the look back period under Title II is only TWO years). I didn't want to waste time with the SS reps as they are just a call center, so I called my State Rep. When a Rep makes an inquiry, SS by law MUST respond immediately. So I got my $5000 deducted for the nonexistent attorney in about 2 weeks and was very proactive in getting Medicare set up immediately.

    The legwork will be up to you. But trust me, you'll be glad you did! There was an article in WSJ shortly after I got my mess straightened out of the horror stories people have gone thru. A quadrapalegic was denied for 5 years. There were so many heartbreaking stories like his. The poor guy's family had to sell their home in order to take care of him. So I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you to do your homework FIRST, and make sure you have copies of EVERYTHING (which is a good rule of thumb to live by anyway; everyone should always keep copies of their medical records)and then remain very vigilant and proactive with your caseworker.
  • Lil Bo Peep, I have just received my SSD approval letter and they approved it back to Nov 2006. Will I get Medicare now since it has been approved back to Nov 2006, or will I have to wait another two years to get it? I have two small children that will be able to draw benefits, will they also get backpay?
    Sorry for all the questions, but all of this is new to me.

    JoJo your wife should by all means apply for SSD. I think that you have to be out of work for 12 months before you can apply, but if she has short term or long term disability at her place of employeement that will help until she can get approved. Good luck.
  • It isn't 12 months not working, I quit my job July 31, 2008 and applied for SSD Aug. 13, 2008. I was told in April that I was approved but that they don't pay for the first 5 months your off work so I was awarded 3 months backpay and received my first SSD check in May.The hardest thing to show is that you are unable to work for atleast 1 year from befinning of application, it is very important to have your Doctor document that fact.
    If you have anymore question ask!!!
  • Can anyone tell me if you think I can get SSD for surgery at L5/S1 (diskemonty) in Feb 09. Since surgery I have no feeling in right leg and foot. Cannot drive. Dr. just keeps telling me it is going to take time to heal. Tried all types of meds but nothing works for the chronic pain. I am 51 and worked all my life until my surgery. My first surgery went fine but the second surgery didn't fix anything.

    L4/L5 discemtomy in July 05.
    L5/S1 discemtomy in Feb 09.
  • I have sent you a Private Message. Did you get a chance to read it?

    Determining disability is not cut/dry or black/white all the time. Many factors come in to play and a decision is made based on the totality of the information obtained on you and your treatment.

    What kind of work did you do? What was the highest grade you completed in high school? What exactly are your limitations? Do you need assistance to walk or move about? How does your pain feel (I know - it HURTS!, but - sticking/stabbing/burning, etc)? What activities makes it hurt? What activities makes it better? What type of limitations do your medications (if you take any) cause? Things like that.

    If you are not working at the time, there is no harm in filing a claim. If you are denied, you won't be prosecuted. However, it is not as difficult for someone over the age of 50 (considered "closely approaching retirement age") to be approved as it is for those under 50 ("younger individuals". While that seems like age discrimination, it's not. History has shown it is easier to train younger individuals than those who are approaching retirement age.

    You can call the nationwide toll free number 1-800-772-1213, or file your claim electronically at ssa.gov and look for the link for filing a disability claim. Either way, SOMEONE from your local SSA will contact you and ask you questions. Remember, ANY time you speak with a federal or government employee, GET THEIR NAME, AND WRITE IT DOWN.

    Whatever your choice - good luck. I'm here if you need me.

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