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Social Security Disability. Do you have it? Were you denied/approved? Please share your story with m

caitycccaityc Posts: 268
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:33 AM in Health Insurance Issues
I have applied for disability, and not sure what my chances are for getting it. I don't have spinal stenosis, or caudi equina syndrome, or anything like that. My disk is gone, and I do have nerve root compression. But my main issue is pain. I asked my SSDI case worker if they look at such things as the amount of pain someone is in, and take that in to consideration.

Anyway, I was wondering if you could tell me:

1. What your condition is?

2. Were you approved or denied?

I know everyone is different, just trying to get an idea.




  • Hi Caity,
    I have RSD, and am always in pain. Most of this condition is purely pain. Some physical abnormalities, that may or may not require amputation. I heard from my atty., that every RSD patient they have helped, are now approved and on their way...in pain and on pills.
    For now I live with pain. One out of three ain't
    bad. Put me in pain, and I'll show you a guy who doesn't do public.
    Good luck!!!
  • I am so sorry to hear you are in such pain. :( I'm assuming you were approved for SSD? If so, I am so happy for you. I am in the beginning stages of my application. Thanks for the well wishes!

  • I just got approved.
    I filed On my own and was denied.
    I asked for a recosideration and i was denied again.
    I finally hired a lawyer and he asked for hearing.
    I never had to go to a hearing as it was approved witn out it.
    It's a long haul on a very bumpy road. Just don't get off it!

    best wishes.
  • I work for a lawyer who specializes in social security disability and I am a paralegal that basically handles these files. A favorable decision depends on a lot of factors. I can tell you from experience, the younger you are and your educational level play a big role. You may not technically meet a listing but chronic pain is part of your disability. You want to consider everything that is going on with you when filing. For example, it seems that a lot of our clients come in lets say because of back problems because to them that is the main reason why they are disabled. Don't forget about anything else that you may have like depression, diabetes, hypertension, etc. The best possible thing you could do for your case is to have supportive doctors that are willing to either write a to whom it may concern letter indicating that you are disabled and are not capable of sustaining gainful employment. Or, even better, have them complete a RFC form. I hope some of this info was helpful. The system is definitely flawed that is for sure. I am 34 years old, i have had two back surgeries, with the most recent being June 30 when I had a two level fusion at L3-4 and L4-5 and had bone spurs removed at L5-S1. I am currently off work with no benefits, no income and uncertainly about the future, and I can tell you that without doubt, I would not qualify for social security disability because of my age and because I have a college education, not to mention my family could not afford to even try to go through the proecess. I live in Michigan and we are one of the busiest offices in the nation. It is now taking upwards of 6-9 months to find out if you are denied or not, and if denied it is taking about 2 1/2 years to get a hearing date in front of an administrative law judge!
    I wish you the best of luck!!!
  • Thank you for your comments, Tammy! Wow! Fun times! Yeah, everything you have going on is vital to the process. In my case I have my degenerative disc disease, surgery, permanent nerve damage resulting in debilitating pain, hypertension, diabetes, and I'm 57 years old. I have a good law firm that does nothing but these kinds of claims working for me.

    I don't know how long it will take but I'm in it for the long haul. I can't use either of my arms for any length of time because of the diabetic neuropathy and the nerve pain.

    Anyway, thanks again for your insightful comments, Tammy!

    Ken GreyEagle
  • Hi All,
    I must of had one of the strangest SSDI cases ever. I went through this process with my dad back in '86, and 4 yrs and an attorney (who really didn't do much), he finally qualified for SSDI. So in March 2007, after a bloched Bilevel Lumbar Spinal Fusion of the L4-S1 with hardware, and the rest of the bells and whistles. I had to apply for SSDI in Sept 08. I was very against it. Pride you know is a dangerous thing. I guess I saw what my dad had gone through, and had read what a lot of ppl had to go through on this forum. I figured I was in for a battle, especially since I hadn't seen a dr for this since July 07. I only seen my primary once in that time, and that was to sign a contract for pain meds.
    So I applied, and figured I'd be denied. I was 40 yrs old, with a college degree, had no dr. backing me or even know that I applied, and I was going through DVR to be retrained. Well in Feb 09 I recieved a check from SSDI, and the next day a letter that I was approved. I told you it was strange!! I was affraid to cash the check. I have never heard of anyone getting SSDI so easily.
    To tell you exactly what's wrong with me. I don't really know. That's my first order of business in Sept, when medicare kicks in. I'm also in the process of getting the records from the drs, and the hospital. What I can tell you is I woke up from surgery unable to feel my legs, and it took me a month to learn to walk. I'm in extensive pain, and have lots of numbness to the outside of my legs going down to my feet. If there is a bright side, I can stub my toe and not feel it, LOL!!! Sorry my idea of humor. You have to laugh at something. Might as well be yourself. Otherwise, I'd have to just sit down, and cry! And what good would that do me.
    I know this might not be helpful to anyone, but that's my story. Even as stange as it may sound.
    Bobbi Jo
  • I am so happy for you! That does seem like it was very easy, but you must have strong medical evidence to support that you are disabled. They get all of your medical records in order to make their decision, so your doctors must have been very thorough.

    Again, I am so happy for you! I hope I am as lucky. :)

  • i went through the disability (nightmare) i am 43 was denied the first time. thinking i really don't want this, but i knew that i was physically amess from my two surgeries. the people who really need it i think are denied because there are people out there who should not be on it.and i think they try to scare you. my thoughts are -- you know yourself what you can do- it's just a matter of making those people understand.. i think the system would improve if they had a medical team doing disability cases. just my honest opinion
  • that some of you have won your fight. Tammy, thank you for the wonderful advice!

    My issue is pain... Pain, pain, pain. There is absolutely no way I can stand/sit for 8 hours a day. Not unless they think it's OK that I am in excruciating pain. My concern is that there probably isn't "strong medical evidence" in their eyes. As I said before, my last MRI from Feb does reflect the collapsed disk and compression, but there are no other factors. I am probably going to request another MRI because things are going from bad to worse. Most of you will understand when I say that something just isn't right, and it's getting worse. I don't know if it's just further compression, or perhaps the bone spurs that were discovered are getting worse, but somethings up. I get really bad sciatic pain in my ankle now when I put pressure on my foot to walk. I am getting more aggressive sciatic pain. And it's gradually taking less and less to really "set me off" so to speak. I'm one of those who when you look at probably wouldn't know I have a back issue. But as soon as I do ANYTHING to irritate my back, I'm done. And this is even on meds. If I lay down all day and take it easy, my pain level is relatively manageable. But when I grocery shop, stand and fold laundry, cook a meal, etc., I'm just totally done. :(

    Anyway, thanks again for all of your advice, support and suggestions. I really appreciate it, more than you know.

  • What is the RFC form ?

    Thanks Michele
  • Have you seen another surgeon? I should think you would want at least 2 opinions if not 3. Before you go filing for disability. You had a micro at L5/S1. Now the disc is collapsed. Ok. So why not a fusion or ADR? If you can't prove you are inoperable I would expect them to push back on you. 1 surgeons opinion is not going to fly.
  • let me back up a bit. I have seen a total of 3 surgeons. One was ready to operate, but then I changed insurances. The second surgeon I saw wanted to try conservative treatments first. He told me there was no guarantee I would feel better after a fusion. Then, this 3rd one told me surgery would absolutely not help me. All of this is documented.
    Oh! By the way, the first surgeon I ever saw told me I was completely collapsed. The second one also said I was collapsed. The pain management specialist I saw this past Tuesday said I am not "fully" collapsed. There is still some disk material there. That threw me for a loop! That could also be why this 3rd surgeon doesn't want to operate. I asked the pain management specialist why then was I in so much pain. He told me that disks have little pain receptors, and because of the little amount of disk I do have, and the DDD, that that's why my entire back hurts. And the nerve root compression is responsible for my sciatica.
    The bottom line with this whole SSDI thing is making them realize that although there may not be "strong" medical evidence, I am in pain. It is what it is. I don't feel very confident they will agree, but I'm giving it a shot anyway.
    A lot of this I posted under "Back and Neck Surgery" under "So I finally found out why surgery might not be for me". That way I don't have to type everything all over. :)

  • I go thur for my hearing. if you don't mind where do you live, who was your jugde?
  • Hello, I was very lucky in that I was granted SSD in a very short time.I filed in Sept of 08 and after being interveiwed over the phone and a visit to one of their docs I recieved an award letter just 4 months later.I think my age helped alot,but I have OA in every joint,had both hips replaced,laminectomy on several levels and extensive forinotomies,nerve damage from sciatica and I will soon need a shoulder replacement.I am 55 and I just told the truth and had all my Docs names and numbers ready and the dates when I had all the tests and such.Godd Luck and let us know how it turns out! Turkersmom
  • Congrats Turkersmom! Im hoping my initial appl goes that well. Did you file online? Seems to me I read it was faster to file online, but I have all my medical records so dont know if I'd be better off taking it to the local social security office.

    Any thoughts anyone?
  • Yes, Painintheneck,I filed on-line and it was only a couple of days later when they set me up with a telephone interveiw.I did not get a lawyer as it was my first try and I wanted to see how it would go and it went very well.Believe me I know how lucky I was but I will be honest,I did some kind of prayin to St.Jude and I believe that he helped alot! Turkersmom
  • i have had nothing but problems trying to get SSI or SSDI. i live in Alaska, i think it has the worst healthcare in the country.most expensive forsure.

    i was denied all the way to the hearing level. Had a judge who was not nice at all. She had a chip on her shoulder no doubt.

    i have applyed again with my attourney and am back to waiting for a hearing once again.

    my sister in missouri had been approved with out even a hearing and my case is much worse than hers. But she is 58 and i am 45 .

    i have peripheral neuropathy bad in legs, feet and arms and hands from a pinched nerve in my neck and severe spinal stenosis in my lumbar spine along with osteoarthritis.

    Hope to hear soon about when my hearing date will be again!
  • That is terrible that you were denied! I just don't understand it. I am only 35, so I'm sure my chances are bad. I spoke with my SSDI case worker and he explained to me that once he gets all my records from my doctors, that he and a medical person (?) are going to review my case to see if I qualify. I think because I can raise my leg at times I will get denied. Now if I do anything at all (clean, grocery shop, etc.) I can't lift my leg.
    I recently found out that not only do I have DDD, but I have bad facet joints. Which is why I also have so much pain.
    I pleaded my case to a degree with my case worker, just asking him to understand the amount of pain I am in, especially if I try to live a normal life, and to please take that into consideration. He said they do, but they follow the SSD guidelines as well to determine if someone is disabled.
    Hopefully the collection of DDD, nerve root compression, facet joint disease and bone spurs will be enough. We really need the income, and I just can't work. I can't do it. :(
    Good luck with your next attempt. I hear it can take several attempts before getting approved.

  • My friend won his disablility 2 years and 2 months to the day. Just found out this past monday. Won at the hearing level.
  • OMGMyAchinBackOOMGMyAchinBack Dix Hills, Long Island, NYPosts: 15
    I have just applied for SSDI due to my "bad back". My history - I am a male in the mid 50's. I was diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis (slippage of vertebrae over another one) @ L5/S1. I had constant lower (lumbar) back pain and all sorts of pain done both of my legs all the way to my toes.

    I had spinal surgery (PLIF with instrumentation) in 1999 by a well-known team of a neurosurgeon & an orthopedic surgeon. I was out of work for 9 months. At this time I did not apply for SSDI as I fully expected to return to work. Within 1 year of the surgery I started to have more pain than ever before. Doctors said give it more time to heal. After another year or so, it was worse. My original surgeons said there was nothing that could be done and suggested that I see a pain management practice. For the next 10 years, I was given 100's of trigger shots, over 20 epidural injections and was on a regimen of 240mg of Morphine IR (Immediate Release) and 120mg of Morphine ER (extended release) daily. In addition I had a stimulator implanted to help with the pain. During this time I had seen numerous surgeons who all said the same thing. Based on the MRIs & CT Scans, there was no surgical procedure that would help me.

    I finally found a surgeon who was willing to treat me by doing an exploratory surgery to see if a) I fused and b) the instrumentation was in place. His expectation was to remove the instrumentation but I was warned that there is a possibility that I would require revision surgery. Well, what he found was that the instrumentation was loose and there was no solid fusion. He did a revision (PLIF) and told me that it was so bad that he wanted to fuse me through the front (ALIF) as well. Two weeks after the first surgery, I had the second. He also discovered that I had severe osteoporosis. I was out of work for almost 1 year. I still did not apply for SSDI as once again, I fully expected to go back to work.

    As of today, I am still in constant pain and have now been diagnosed with stenosis and a herniated disc @ L4/L5 which is 1 level up from the original problem. I am unable to sit or stand for more than 20 minutes at a time. My occupation requires that I am sitting 7+ hours of an 8 hour work day. I cannot bend, lift, twist or climb stairs. I am scheduled for my 4th spinal surgery in April 2011. My surgeon has declared me totally disabled (Class 5). I have hired a firm that does nothing but SSDI cases and have been told that I meet at least 3 of the impairments in the list that Social Security uses to declare disability.

    That being said, I am waiting for the decision. Being a realist, I fully expect to be denied a few times before I am approved.

    I am interested in others who have a similar story and what their result was.


  • I was told by my Dr. in late Oct. of 2008 that the "later I'll have surgery " time was over & she sent me to a surgeon, my fusion, from just below my shoulders clear to my tailbone, anterior & posterior,
    complete discectomy & a rib removal was scheduled for Feb. 2009 - I left the surgeon's office & went to a S.S. disability attorney - the person who took down my "story" told me I would be denied the 1st time & gave me a packet of paperwork - she wanted me to sign that they would represent me. I told my husband - let's go. I thought, if they are going to deny my, I'm not sure I am interested in this firm - she indicated that I wasn't all that bad off - well I knew that I was. We left & drove directly to our local S.S. office - for some reason they weren't busy & I filled out the paperwork & got right in with a s.s. worker who took my information. In a few days I had a phone call from a caseworker & was approved before 60 days were up - so I am not so sure you will be denied. I did not use an attorney. I will think good thoughts for you but I think you have a good chance - especially with your surgeon behind you & I would be a realist also but think you have a reason to feel positive - I felt positive - & you have had so many things happen to you. You aren't working I take it?
    Good luck & I hope you'll post when you get your 1st letter back after you apply. People do get approved, many don't but many do - good luck, I know it is absolutely miserable waiting to find out. I will think good thoughts for you, Susan
  • OMG, I agree. YOu may be approved sooner rather than later. I have the same spine issues that you have, had not worked for 3 years due to not being able to sit or stand more than 15 minutes. The biggest difference is that I have not had any surgeries as yet, although they want to do a fusion. I applied last year on October 21st and on January 21st I got a call saying I had been approved!
    I had fully expected that I would be turned down and then I would hire a SSD attorney. I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, it all happened so quickly that it was kind of a shock to me to have someone else say I was a "disabled person" - that took some getting used to. I had always expected that at some point I would be able to go back to work - now I see how unrealistic that was.

    Good luck to you! I hope you get approved quickly!

  • OMGMyAchinBackOOMGMyAchinBack Dix Hills, Long Island, NYPosts: 15
    Susie & Pat,

    Thank you so much for the words of encouragement. Now I am encouraged. I hope I didn't waste any $ with the law firm. The minimum they get is $1000 & maximum is $6,000. It all depends when I am approved and how much back pay there is. Luckily I have not yet heard anyone say I am a "disabled" person. I will probably flip out. I was an athlete my entire life and expected to work until I couldn't breathe anymore.

    Here's to us DISABLED people!!!


    OMG :)))
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    is the end of April - after geting the two adjudicator level denials ...Filed January of last year ... I have addition to my neck ... due to a car accident I now have a ruptured lumbar disk and need a cane to walk. That should help round out the picture for the ALJ.

    The secretary of state cancelled my drivers license as they believe(right fully so) that my meds have an efffect on my ability to safely drive. I rear ended a police K9 unit on the way to pick up my pain meds but was on muscle relaxants - diazepam. I will find out this week if they are going to charge me with a DUI.

    My house is still in foreclosure and I'm not sure when I am going to be kicked out of my home of 19 years.

    Just hooked up with a newpain specialist who is going to try some ESI's for my neck and back.

    Plenty of meds .... maybe ESI's will help - had facet injections in the past that did nuttin.

    It's gonna be an interesting 90 - 180 days.

    How much fun are we having??

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • To you susan and pat, on getting approved.
    Very happy for ya's.

    And to the people still trying to get approved, best of luck and i hope you do in-fact get approved.
  • OMGMyAchinBackOOMGMyAchinBack Dix Hills, Long Island, NYPosts: 15

    Wish I could accept your congrats, but I am not yet approved. In fact, I just started the process.

    I will hold on to your congrats until it is warranted.


  • back in 7/09 not expecting at all to be approved. I found out I was approved the end of October, 3 months later. AND, I got 2 years back pay. So OMG, and everyone else, don't lose hope!!!

    It was my second application, as my first one in 12/07 was denied. I did have strong medical evidence in 2009, even though I thought I didn't. I have slowly continued to get worse, with still no one to operate. I've been told because my first surgery left so much scar tissue and damage, that it will be difficult to find a doctor to operate on me, because they inherit the issues from the first surgery once they touch me. Geesh!!!

    Anyway, keep fighting, and don't give up!!!!

  • My personal experience with SSDI went like this. I applied 2.5 years ago and basically just waited and waited. After almost a year and a half I had been denied twice. It was at this point that I decided to hire a Social Security Disability lawyer to help me with my case. The specialized SSDI attorney made sure that I had all the correct paperwork filled out, and that I had all the necessary medical evidence to support my case. It turns out going to www.socialsecurity-disability.org and finding an attorney was the key to me being awarded benefits. Just 3 months after teaming up with my attorney, I found out I was approved.
  • HI,
    I finally bit the bullet and applied for SSD, just before my last cervical fusion...I was approved in 5 weeks, got my settlement check, and now am waiting for the 1st monthly check. I ran my paperwork by a disability attorney, who said I didn't need him..just to make an appt at the SS ofc, and fill out all the online forms to apply. Had all related paperwork, as well as the WC settlement papers, from the surgeries back in 94/95. It is very important to keep an accurate record of dr's, tests, surgeries, hospitals and med's.
  • i was just approved today. it took 6 months, and i got it on my first application. i had surgery in 2006 (hemilaminectomy and decompression)and 2008 (multiple level fusion) and was on disability from the same employer for both. my gradual return to work attempt last year was not successful.

    diagnoses: moderate stenosis, severe osteoarthritis, neuropathic pain

    EDIT: if you look at my avatar you will notice the erniation at L4-L5, but also that the disc space between L5-S1 is pretty much non existent ... paper thin
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