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What do you do if you are unable to work?!

IvorymoonIIvorymoon Posts: 44
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Water Cooler
Hello there! I'm new to the forum, so if I put this topic in the wrong area, let me know. lol.

Anyway, in a nutshell, I have such back pain and back issues, I am pretty much unable to work. I herniated two disks in my lumbar spine, one in 1985, and another in 1997. I did not have surgery and have tried to just tough it out and get by. Long story short, I now have arthritis and both disks are now totally gone, and my back is acting up again worse than ever. I am not able to stand for very long and I can't really walk much beyond 30 to 45 minutes and I have to sit down. I have applied for social security disabilty (summer 2009), I also have gastrointestinal issues and I have pretty severe IBS. I did hire a disability attorney, but I was denied my first time, we have appealed and are now waiting to see what happens next.

But, because I am single, and most everyone in my family has passed away, I have to try to find some kind of part time work in order to not lose my apartment and pay bills. But between the back pain and the IBS I have lost about 8 jobs just in the last 12 months. Does social security allow that you can work some limited part time if you are able to, or is working part time going to hurt my chance at disability? Currently I am only working three days a week three hours a day, not enough to live on, and I am having trouble just working that. If I don't work at least limited part time I will be homeless as I have no relatives and no where to go. I am getting some assistance thru the county for my rent, but I basically have no money unless I try to work, and so far I don't last more than 2 days to 2 weeks and then my health issues usually end up with my getting fired and another lost job. What does social security expect people do? And how hard is it really to get social security disability? I'm scared, and frustrated. Thanks for reading all of this if you made it thru all rantings.....lol.


  • The most important thing to get social security approved is to have all of your medical records from all of the years that you have been seeing Doctor's for the back issues/IBS issues, etc. in order. Even if you get approved for SSD you can work limited hours and still get your benefits, so I don't think that working a part-time job is going to affect your chances of getting approved.

    I got approved for SSD at my first try. I didn't hire a lawyer and did it on my own, but I made sure that all of those records, from years back were in my application. I made sure to have everything in order before I apply. I think that one of the biggest mistakes that people make is not having all of their medical records in order. Even now that I am already approved, anytime that I get an MRI, CT, blood work, etc. I ask for a copy of the results to be mailed to me, and I keep a file of all of my medical records. I have them by year, surgery, specialty, etc.

    So to answer your question, no, I don't think that working a part-time job will affect your chances of getting SSD, but incomplete records will definetely hurt your chances. Take care and I hope that you get approve soon.

  • Tipper has good advice.

    I might add that you can also call each of the doctors you have seen and get a copy of your medical records that they have (it might cost you a little money).

    I wished I had thought to have all my results sent to me. I will do it from now on for sure.

  • This answer is right out from a site/company that helps people with social security disability issues and this is the answer to the question of "Can I apply for social security disability if I am working?"

    Yes. Very often, you will hear or read that you cannot apply for social security disability benefits or be approved for them if you are working. However, this is incorrect. Many individuals who are applying for disability benefits, pursuing an appeal, or even receiving social security benefits, are working.

    The catch is this: an applicant for ssd (social security disability) simply cannot earn in excess of SGA while their claim is pending. If their monthly gross earned income exceeds the SGA amount, at that point they become ineligible for ssd.

    What is SGA? This acronym stands for substantial gainful activity. The theory behind sga is that if a person can work and earn at least the sga amount, they shouldn't be considered disabled.

    For 2009, the sga amount is $900.00 (i.e. to be considered eligible for disability in 2009, a person's gross monthly income should be less than $900.00)

  • Thank you everyone, your replies were very helpful. I don't feel quite so lost and hopeless anymore. Whew, it's all very good to know! Altho the road to soc. sec. disability sounds pretty daunting. I'm going to hang in there.
  • HANG IN THERE is a good mantra when filing for disability benefits.

    I would like to point out that PAULGLA is absolutely correct in saying what he did.

    If you are working Part-Time when you file for benefits, SSA will think you could possibly work Full-Time. Just because you say you are disabled, well that's just not good enough.

    The fact that you lost jobs in the past because of having to take time off due to your condition(s) will work in your favor - AS LONG AS YOUR EMPLOYER STIPULATES THEY HAD TO LET YOU GO BECAUSE OF YOUR POOR HEALTH. And yes - SSA actually contacts past employers.

    It's also great advice to have all your ducks in a row. HOWEVER, the mere fact that you have all your records is not what will allow you to be approved for benefits.

    It is WHAT'S IN YOUR RECORDS that counts. Your records MUST show that you are so severely compromised by your physical/mental impairments that not only can you not perform your past jobs, but ANY JOB WITHIN THE NATIONAL ECONOMY .

    Not only that, but SSA will actually PAY to obtain your records. They pay one flat fee, no matter if it is one page or a thousand. If you try to obtain your own records, you could wind up paying a small fortune. So, I would let SSA get your records. Just be sure you have all the names and addresses (or at least a phone number) of all the doctors, hospitals or clinics who have treated you. Include the dates you were treated there.

    SSA will only review the medical records that are pertinent to your claim. They won't look at the notes from when you had a cold back in 1999 if your are claiming you became disabled because of your back in 2001. So, if SSA says they are unable to get records from a certain provider, that's when it would be a good idea to get your own.

    Good luck to your Ivory!
  • The SGA issue is half correct.

    SGA in 2009 MAY have been $900.00, but were you aware that amount actually differs from household to household? The amount of SGA depends on the family dynamics. How many adults are in the home? How many dependent adults? How many children? Are any of the children under the age of 18? Are any of the children in college?

    When I was a legal secretary (for a disability attorney 3+ years), if a client told us they were working, the attorney automatically withdrew from the claim. No questions asked.

    As a disability examiner (10+ years), the first question in the "Sequential Evaluation" is this: "Is the claimant working? If yes, Deny. If no, move to step 2".

    If a claimant is working part time, SSA will assume they can work full-time. They don't stop to ask "Why is this person only working part time?" They don't even ask "Will an employer even HIRE this person?" The only question they ask is "Does this person have documented medical issues that are so severe they can't even do sedentary work?"

    Also, Tipper - the efforts you are making in keeping your current records up to date will pay off. SSA will review your file again in a few years to be sure you are still unable to work. So, these will come in VERY handy for your review. I remember when I worked the "Continuing Disability Review" files and the claimants had all their records like that, it made it so much easier (not to mention quicker) to make the decision to "Continue Disability Benefits". So, on behalf of whomever reviews your file, "Thank You!"
  • Well, realistically I cannot work at all.... I am barely able to do part time, in the last 11 months I have had 13 jobs.....lost them all because of my health issues. What does soc. sec. expect people to do while they wait for their disability claim? Makes no sense.... if I don't work I will be homeless.... I have NO WHERE at all to go....no relatives, nothing (my parents have passed away and I am single). Soc. sec. must expect people like me to live in my car than? I am heading that direction soon, I have had to get rental assistance from the county, yet I am supposed to still come up with some portion of the rent, and because I may be about $200 or $600 behind in rent my landlord does not care why or that I have health issues and I may lose my apartment.... so I try to work, I work as long as I can, then the employer gets mad if I miss work or cannot do the physical aspect of the job, and I lose the job. So, over 10 jobs in the last year alone, not to mention all the jobs since 1982 I have lost (I had my parents to help me out until 5 years ago, both are now deceased). So I am stunned at how callous the procedure for disability is..... And for a disability attorney, or social security, to actually think if you can work part time then you can work full time, I wish to heck they'd have a back injury or health issue and find out for themselves what it is truly like.... Something needs to be done to fix this broken system...... But what rankles me the most, are a few people who are on disability yet they go out and work for cash.... these people are no doubt what is causing the huge problem with others getting disability..... I can think of two people who I know very well who are very capable of working, yet they just did not want to continue in their current jobs so one actually got disability due to "depression", yet that person now goes out and works quite often for cash.....and functions very well and goes out and does all kinds of things....it makes me furious. That person was approved right away. It's insane, it makes no sense.

    Sorry, just had to vent.... I'm so frustrated....
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