No one plans on getting injured. No one plans on becoming ill. It is devastating to not be able to do the things you once did or wish to do. It is terrifying to think how you will take care of yourself and your loved ones when you are unable to work. For over 30 years, we have met so many community members who have faced (or are facing) these challenges. So,what can be done to help?
When someone who is applying for Social Security disability contacts us, there are a few things we ask right away to see how we can best help them.
1) What has caused you to stop working?
There are many reasons why someone might stop working. If they've been injured, the pain may affect their ability to sit, stand, walk, or lift. If they are ill from cancer or chronic disease, they may not be able to focus, concentrate, or work with others. Similarly, individuals experiencing mental health symptoms or changes in eyesight and hearing may also be experiencing significant challenges that affect their work performance. Whatever it may be, if you are living through a medical condition that prevents you from working, you should speak with someone who can advise you on your options.
2) When did you last work?
Interestingly, we meet many Social Security disability clients who are at different stages: some have not worked in several years, others have just stopped working, or, in fact, are still working. What does that mean? Claiming disability is alleging you are no longer able to work, but sometimes it doesn't happen that cleanly. Often, people will try to work in order to provide for their family, despite serious conditions that ought to keep them from working. Some people try to work through their conditions, hoping they will improve or subside only to find they can't push any further. As you can see, this can be complicated. When you are wondering what that means for eligibilty for Social Security disability, getting sound advice will help determine if you are eligible and what strategies can be taken to take care of yourself.
3) Has a doctor told you to not return to work?
This is difficult. Many doctors and other healthcare professionals want to empower their patients to lead healthy and fulfilling lives, so there is a hesitation to label anyone disabled or unable to work. Nonetheless, some conditions are so severe your doctor may have no choice. If your doctor has told you that your condition significantly limits you and will not improve over 12 months, it's important to also get an advocate on your side.
4) How old are you?
Age is a factor. An attorney can tell you what that means in regards to a Social Security claim.
5) Have you already applied?
If you have already applied, it's not too late to get an advocate on your side. Most cases are denied at the initial stages, but experienced Social Security attorneys can guide you through the next steps.