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Questions about disability

Humble_PieHHumble_Pie Posts: 75
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Chronic Pain
I have had back problems for about 15 years off and on. Nothing too major. Locking up and what not but a trip to a chiropractor usually fixed me up. One day, pretty much out of the blue, I started having severe pain under my left scapula, down my left arm, neck, etc. Ended up I had a severely ruptured disc at C6-7 that was pinching my nerve to the point I lost 70% of the muscle on the left side of my body before anyone figured out what was happening. Had emergency fusion surgery to repair and it went well. Took time but fortunately, I got most of the muscle back. About a year later, I had more neck problems which resulted in another fusion at C4-5. Next, I lost all the strength in my legs and started having massive problems in the bottom of my back. This was where I initially had problems all along and I recently had to have fusion surgery from L4 - S2. I am still pretty sore and slowly healing up.
My big problem is at work. I am still having problems consistently putting in a full 40 each week. I am a computer programmer and can do my work at home and have proven this but my bosses don't want others demanding to work at home because I do. I think its a bit different since I have actual medical problems. Sitting for 8+ hours a day is completely miserable and by Friday, I'm in so much pain, I can barely drag myself in to work and occasionally don't.
My main concern here is that I'm worried they are going to let me go due to the fact they are self-insured and don't like my medical issues plus the fact that I get worn down and take more time off than normal. I am one of their best programmers and I think this is why they've kept me on so far but I'm still worried. My doctor actually told me he can't believe I go to work as much as I do with the problems I have and actually suggested disability. I have thought about it a little bit but I am the sole breadwinner for our family and wonder how badly this will impact us. I have 4 children under 13 as well.
Is there a way to secure ssi / ssd while you are still working? I don't know how people can wait for 2 years for this process to run its course without losing everything. Also, I am unsure about the insurance options for my children and wife. How much income would I be eligible for? I live in Utah. Anyhow, I read this forum often and appreciate the help and support. I hope somebody has some insight into this issue and can give me some direction.

Thanks All. Hope you all have a pain-free and happy holiday season.


  • Definition of Disability as Defined by Social Security Administration:

    "The inability to work due to a physical or mental impairment. The impairment must be so severe it prevents you from performing not only your past work, but any work within the national economy".

    Unfortunately, you HAVE to be not working before you can file for Social Security Disability (SSD).

    IF your impairments are the result of the work you do, you may consider Short Term Disability through your employer?

    To find out how much you would receive each month on SSD, you should check your "Earnings Statement". Generally, these come every year from Social Security Administration. If you have never received one, call 800-772-1213 and listen for the prompts. Push the corresponding number for "TO REQUEST AN EARNINGS STATEMENT" or "... YOUR EARNINGS RECORD" or "A RECORD OF YOUR EARNINGS". I forget which one it is (it's been over 8 years).

    This statement shows how much you have earned basically your entire life (once you open the statement, this information will be on the right). To see what you would earn should you be eligible for retirement, that info is on the left. Along with that info, there's information regarding your credits for disability; how much your benefit amount would be, and your "survivors" or "dependents". There is a cap on the family benefit amount (if you are deemed disabled, your children under 18 [19 if still in school] will receive a monthly benefit as well).

    Good luck with what ever you choose. I'm here if you have any questions!
  • Thanks for the info. My biggest worry is my children and wife and making sure they are covered on some sort of insurance. Right now I force myself to work because of them and frequently, my body just shuts off when the pain gets too bad. I need to figure out what to do. I was on short term disability for a while but my work only pays for about 4 weeks then you don't get a check. They cancelled my LTD policy right before my lower back surgery in September. I was paying on it and everything. I'm not sure if they can just do that or not but I've tried to get some information and I just get ignored. I have suspicions they did this due to my medical history and them not wanting to take the chance.
    I heard someone say that you can't have any money at all. That you have to empty out all your savings, etc in order to get on disability. Is this true?
    Anyhow, I was having a very bad pain day today and didn't make it in to work so I thought it might be time to start seriously looking into this. I'm not sure how much more I can take. Chronic pain is a life I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies.

    Thanks Again.
  • Some of that may be true for SSDI (basically for poor people) Your SSD has nothing to do with what you have.

    I would find a GOOD ERISA attorney if I were you about that LTD policy. What they did is illegal!

    Good luck and keep us posted.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Does your employer offer Short Term Disability (STD) and Long Term Disability (LTD)? Check your benefits to see if they do. If you can't find it on any intranet site you can call HR/Benefits and just say you want to "gather all your benefit information for an annual review".

    My company offers both STD and LTD. STD is at no cost to me. LTD was at no cost to me for a basic benefit but I could buy up to a richer benefit which I did. I went out of work in May and exhausted my 26 weeks of STD in November and then my LTD started. They still mandate I apply for SSDI. LTD policies deduct from your LTD benefit what you get from SSDI so I must apply once I'm out of work for one year.

    SSDI does mandate that you be out of work for 5 full months (or at severly reduced income due to a disabling condition) before you can be considered for benefits. You can check www.ssa.gov for more information on the rules and regulations. The good news is if your children are not yet adults you would get additional money for them while they remain at home and in school.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I'm checking into this more now. They started back peddling on the LTD thing when I started asking about it so I think it will be there if I need it. I was on STD for 6 weeks but it doesn't pay anything unfortunately. I appreciate the information.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    STD and LTD are only meant to pay a percent of your pre-disability income. Some pay higher than others. My employer pays 80% STD and then for LTD provides basic at 50% and I bought up to the 60% option.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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