Have you applied for disability? What was the process like for you?
We have information on the ins and outs of applying for disability in our resources section: https://multiplesclerosis.net/resources-ssdi
The filing for SSDI is a very complex procedure; requiring a lot of paperwork on SSA's special forms to be completed by your doctors, family members, caregivers and possibly co-workers/managers/supervisors from your employer.
Here are some sources to find one in your area:
1. Your doctor (where I got mine)
2. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society
3. A google search specifying SSDI lawyers
4. Possible social media platforms that specialize in multiple sclerosis
These lawyers have the knowledge and expertise in assisting the applicant in filing for their SSDI. They will let you know what paperwork needs to be completed and will submit these on your behalf as well as file for appeals in the event of a denial. In addition, they will advise you on SSA's policies of filing for SSDI for a patient with multiple sclerosis.
It took me two years from application date to when I got awarded my SSDI.
Dog-gone-it… I had some odd stuff happening. My GP sent me to a neurologist but symptoms had disappeared. No tests done. HOWEVER, the neurologist’s report to my GP stated that should symptoms return I should be tested for MS. Four years later. More symptoms. GP referral to second neurologist. Symptoms disappear but he writes letter to GP echoing first neurologist. At no time did my GP or either neurologist mention MS to me yet all three had notes in my chart that indicated that I should be tested for it. Another four years, another set of symptoms and another neurologist; one who scheduled a MRI and confirmed that I had Multiple Sclerosis. After doing my RRR I postponed applying for disability until I, MYSELF, contacted every doctor I’d ever seen and asked for complete copies of my records. Twenty-four years of records. My GP’s office staff started at the beginning of my file and pulled every page that had the words neurologist, MS or demyelination. A referring doctor also has copies of lab reports, MRI’s, other testing, physical therapy, and names of each facility and physician, therapist or technician you’ve seen. When I was confident that I had everything - then I completed the application. Before submitting it I had two non-related, unemotional, unbiased people read through the application. I sent three copies of everything (in one large envelope) by certified, signature required, receipt return mail on a Monday morning. Within three weeks I received a letter that my case was accepted and being reviewed. Three weeks later I received approval. Sure RRR took time. But it made me ready to do the letters, follow up phone calls stressing my situation, completing the application, compiling the packets and finally mailing them. Receiving approval in six weeks was worth every second of learning through RRR.
You amaze me,
I just saw this post. I applied for S.S.D.I. many years ago, and got through on the first attempt. It was very hard to to get it even then. Here's a paste from my file with tips, and a recent video from an attorney who specializes in these cases which is terrific.
Long-term Disability Benefits—What to know and do.
(Excerpt from upcoming 2nd Edition of Managing MS, 10/2021)
When I’m asked, “What should I do if I’m thinking about applying for long-term disability benefits?” these are my suggestions:
• Document everything—symptoms, flare-ups, medications/treatments taken, all doctors/other professional help visits, etc.— and be specific (when, what, frequency, duration, why, results/non-results, side effects…).
• Schedule at least two visits to your neurologist/year. Consider seeing a professional therapist for depression and other emotional problems you may be experiencing; consult with them about prescriptions for an antidepressant, anxiety, or sleep.
• Make sure you have a good, supportive neurologist—my neurologist knew exactly what to write and explain specifically on required paperwork to get me approved.
• When completing disability documents, include the following points.
In addition to the gait, vision, bladder/bowel, sleep, fatigue and emotional problems, you need to be specific with pain, coordination, weakness and balance problems.
Show that you are unable to stand or sit more than an hour or two at a time; and it’s necessary to lie down at least every two hours.
Explain that not only are you unable to do your current job, but any job. (Like selling movie tickets!)
Detail how quickly you become incapacitated and how nauseated and sleepy you get from medication/treatments you are on.
• Once you get on disability benefits, stay on them. The unpredictability of a MS flare-up and the extent and duration of its impact can happen overnight.
Note: To obtain information about Social Security Disability, you can call your local social security office, or go online at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Video - Social Security Disability Law Updates for the MS Community
https://bit.ly/378RjMI MS News and Views
colette4 & Debbie Petrina,
As a person who is currently on SSDI, may I provide some insight on the phrase: "Is this a yearly thing that one has to keep qualifying each year?"
Yes, a person who is on SSDI will undergo a process to qualify for these benefits on a periodic basis to determine if their SSDI will remain to be paid. This process is called a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) and by law, SSA must conduct these based on the condition that the person qualified for SSDI in the first place. SSA places each beneficiary in one of three categories:
1. Medical Improvement Expected (MIE); This is for cases with individuals who have a serious injury or medical condition that full recovery is anticipated but the duration of it will last longer than 12 months. Beneficiaries in this category will receive notice of a CDR approximately every 6 to 18 months.
2. Medical Improvement Possible (MIP); apparently this is the category that has the largest beneficiary population. Individuals in this category receives notice of a CDR approximately every 3 years.
3. Medical Improvement not Expected (MINE); applicants who get placed in this category have a medical condition or serious injury that will not ever improve for them to be able to return to the work force in a substantial gainful manner. These people in this category will receive notice of a CDR approximately every 5 to 7 years.
Once a person wins their SSDI case; they will receive a "Notice of Award", and this is where the beneficiary will be able to find the category that they were placed in.
Those of us with MS know that our condition is lifelong; and not expected to improve for us to return to the work force, if we can prove that our MS is severe enough that we can no longer work. I am such a person; once I got awarded my SSDI, I was placed in the Medical Improvement not Expected category. This was because after 15 years of having MS; I found that I could not work in a substantial gainful manner.
Please note: I obtained the above information regarding the different SSA SSDI categories from their website; for I am just a person with MS and no relation to being a lawyer or any such person with expertise in this area who had worked in a similar profession.
I have been turned down in the past for disability. Now, I'm 72, still suffer from worsening MS, as well as spinal scoliosis. I haven't been able to walk or stand for years, but there's something about already being at the top for SS and can't get more.
I am sure your needs can become expensive,