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Thread: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic*
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    Default How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    I know there are a few people here on it. Due to a lazy child as a child, I am legally blind in one eye. I have been losing vision over the past few years in the other eye as well so it is now 20/40, in what they suspect but can't seem to diagnose, as a retinal problem. I depend on good near vision to do my job. It's difficult now but if it continues the time is going to come when I can't perform it no more, nor of course be able to get a driver's license renewal. If that times comes, how difficult is it to qualify for disability? I would not be legally blind and maybe there might be some jobs I could do that are not as dependent on finer vision but very doubtful, any would pay at my current level of income (low 50k's) which I need in order to sustain my mortgage payments, etc. Of course social security disability would not either but if it came down to that, I would move, perhaps back up near my hometown area of northern Vermont or NH and rent a small place. Anyhow if my vision decreases to that level but still not legally blind, do you think I could qualify and get the government social security disability? Also, do you pay taxes on that? I have a little bit of 401k but that would not sustain me for a great length of time.

    BTW, I get more advice here in the Cafe, then I do in the specialized forums I visit. Anybody here with macular problems? If so I will post my experience and get other people's opinions. I did PM one nice OD member but would like to get actual people who have been thru it, opinion's as well.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    I have no advice for you, but I am sorry to read about your vision problem and I am hoping for the best for you. Maybe with some advanced planning, you can handle these challenges as smoothly as possible.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    I don't know anything about your vision problem but quite a bit about Social Security disability. My mom worked as a Bridge and Tunnel Officer for a while. Due to constant movement of her hands in all kinds of weather she developed a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome. She also suffered various pollution-related ailments. Anyway, she reached the point where she was unable to perform pretty much any job. Sometimes she would have good days, but not enough to string together for a normal work week, and not on any kind of consistent basis. A doctor who examined her said it was the worst case of carpal tunnel syndrome he had ever seen. My mom applied for Social Security disability in 1985 or 86 I think. She had plenty of medical documentation certifying her inability to use her hands. Guess what? She was turned down. Basically, the criteria Social Security uses for granting disability is if there is some job, any job, someplace in the United States which you can do with your disability then you will not qualify for disability payments. It doesn't matter if it pays less than what you're making. It doesn't even matter if they happen to be openings in that job. If there is a single job you can theoretically do which they're aware of then you don't qualify. It doesn't matter if the job pays $6 an hour and is located in Alaska while you live in New York. Basically, the only people who qualify are those so disabled that they're considered unemployable. Consider yourself lucky that you don't meet their criteria for that as it would mean you're in really bad shape. Ironically, they don't consider a condition you brought upon yourself like drug addiction a valid reason not to grant benefits. Fortunately, my mom's job had union benefits which included disability pay if you were rejected by Social Security and their doctor certified that you couldn't do the job. She received those until she hit 65, and has since been collecting regular Social Security retirement.

    As for your vision problem, I'm terribly sorry to hear about it. I have 20/200 distance vision myself but great close up vision which I need for my electronics work. Even so, I function fine without glasses other than for watching TV. 20/200 is actually good enough to function in most situations without glasses. I can ride a bike just fine. I simply can't read the street signs from any great distance. I also have a bad enough case of carpal tunnel that I can't work full time, so I'm more or less stuck in my less than ideal self-employment situation. Also, not enough quarters to qualify for Social Security disability or even retirement since I was an S-corp for a while.

    My only suggestion to you is to start researching other options for income before you get to the point that you can't do what you're doing. Self-employment doing something not requiring fine vision might be a way to keep up your income if your condition deteriorates. If you become completely legally blind I tend to think you would qualify for Social Security disability, but as you say it wouldn't cover your bills anyway.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    [ QUOTE ]
    jtr1962 said:
    Basically, the criteria Social Security uses for granting disability is if there is some job, any job, someplace in the United States which you can do with your disability then you will not qualify for disability payments. It doesn't matter if it pays less than what you're making. It doesn't even matter if they happen to be openings in that job. If there is a single job you can theoretically do which they're aware of then you don't qualify.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I am sorry to be argumentative, but that is not the standard at all. I'd be willing to bet that the standard is on the SSA's website but if not, PM me and I'll find a copy of a SSD decision and quote the language to you.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    I am on SSDI and won on the first denial, SS will deny anybodys first application for SSDI. If your on your death bed and have your last breath in your lungs it will still be denied but the second one is actually read by semi literate bipeds. A Lawyer is not absolutely needed to win your justly deserved SSDI but it virtually guarantees you will get your SSDI assuming you are honestly disabled. By hiring a lawyer my claim went through in 8 months and was retroactive to the incident that qualified me for disability.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    Here's what I found:

    [ QUOTE ]

    By law, Social Security has a very strict definition of disability. To be found disabled:

    You must be unable to do any substantial work because of your medical condition(s). For example, in 2004, substantial work means earnings of $810 or more a month. This amount may go up each year; and

    Your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 1 year, or be expected to result in your death.


    [/ QUOTE ]

    Link

    You're only considered unable to do "substantial work" if no job paying more than $810 per month that you are capable of doing exists. What I wrote was pretty much the same. It's more or less what my mother's lawyer told her.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    I qualified for SSDI in 45 days. I didn't hire anyone to fill out the paperwork nor did they give me any problems.

    You need to document your illness/disability and stay on top of your doctor to make sure that he/she responds to Social Security's inquiries by mail or phone. If you stay on top of the case, you will be able to "nurse" it through completion.

    I did the whole process by phone and never had to go into a Social Security office. They will mail the forms to you and set up a phone interview.

    Do a timeline of when you started having medical problems, what doctor's you saw and the dates and be well documented for the Social Security phone interview.

    You will need to mail the claim form, and your original birth certificate to SS. If you don't have your birth certificate, contact your city of birth and get a certified copy right now (don't delay). It takes weeks to get. Don't worry about your income history because SS has all of those records in their system. If you have any breaks in income during your whole work life, make sure that you can explain it.

    Good luck.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    Re: original birth certificate

    Usually (well, at least in this part of NY) by going to the records office in the county you were born, you can obtain a copy of your birth certificate that has an embossed (raised) stamp. That should be godd for what you need. Bring i.d. -- expect to pay cash -- call 'em first to see what you need and how much $$.

    O.T., but... lot's of new research recently on macular degeneration, if that's what you have. A friend has it and is hearing some interesting news on at least >maybe< being able to slow its advance.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    I've had several family members on SSDI. The most recent is my brother, who was in a car accident that crushed one of his feet. He was a house painter and not longer able to stand all day. SSI decided that because he was over 50 (or was it 53???) he would not be able to get established in a new trade. He was turned down the first time.

    My stupid sister-in-law, on the other hand, was a doper who learned from her friends just what to say. She scammed the system for almost 10 years, collecting for an un-specified disability. She was disabled, since she could not function when stoned or drunk, which she was most of the time. I know the details because I acted as her 'authorized payee' for a short time, paying her bills for her out of the SSDI. That stopped when I realized her only disability was the need to party all the time.

    The friend who's had the hardest time was the manic depresive. He can't hold a job or build a career because every 6 months to a year he gets depressed and dets fired or walks off the job. After a while, it's hard to find a new job without changing fields or moving to a new city. He appealed the SSI ruling and got disability after a year and a half.

    If you have vision problems, there are several great tools that may help you function for a lot longer than normal. Magnifying scanners, text to audio scanners, huge computer screens, etc.

    A note for those whith Carpal Tunnel. As a programmer, I have a bit of experience with this. In almost every case, if you stop the repetitive motions and follow the physical therapy, the problem will either go away or subside to where it's managable. The funny thing is that people with CT tend to continue typing, knitting, using a mouse to play compter games and many other leisure activities that mimic the motions that caused the problem. You are always better off if you treat the source.

    Daniel

  10. #10

    Default Re: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    i can get it but i was dignosed with mentel illness like when i was 11 and been seeing a shrink pretty much since then

  11. #11
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    Default Re: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    Thanks everybody for their responses. Quite a mixture of opinions. My overall vision has decreased fairly slowly over the past few years so I'm hoping I will be able to work quite a bit longer. It is much worse in lower level lighting. The real sticking point if I can fake it up that point is license renewal time three years from now. Meanwhile I'm going to try to convince my boss to put me on salary so I can qualify for work long term disability which would pay 67 percent of my salary. I do not know what the criteria is to qualify for the work long term disability. I am scheduled to see a retinal specialist whom I figure will order another round of tests which I have had in the past never giving a conclusive diagnosis.

    Ya know what's weird? My right eye is the good eye, the one that wasn't turned in, that I could see 20/20, maybe 20/15 until a few years ago. But since high school the vision had to be corrected due to near sightedness and astimagitism to achieve that level of vision. My left eye was the one that was turned in as a child until surgery at age 7. The retina never developed properly so I basically have perhipheral level vision in that eye, even in the center macular area (meased as 20/300). But the eye is formed perfectly, everything is in focus without glasses and I definitely do not have the center blurriness issue that I do with the right. In fact I can shut my right eye and despite the limited vision in the left can tell how much better the contrast now is in that eye compared to the right. Dang....

  12. #12
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    Default Re: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    geepondy

    Re your drivers license renewal, CA is very liberal and I failed my vision test miserably. All they did was give me a driving test, which I passed, and restricted my license to 2 years instead of the standard 5 years and put a restriction on my actual license that requires that I only drive a car with a right hand outside mirror.

    LOL. When was the last time you saw a car without a right hand outside mirror.

    The inspector told me that the next renewal will require a form from my eye doctor and no driving test will be required at that time.

    No big deal.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: How hard is it to qualify for disability?

    Am I missing something here? Sounds like you want to get on disability. Trust me, you cant live off of 567 bucks a month. I used my credit cards and worked odd jobs.

    OK. First off, see what you can do to get around your disability. Visit a low vision clinic. Look at low vision website like www.nfb.org as well as vendor sites like telesentry, enhanced vision, maxi aids, freedom scientific, etc. Try to see with equipment and your boss if you can still work your existing job. Trust me, its easier to work a current job then to find a new one. Look for alternative transportation with a co worker or your city paratransit service. With the right optics you may till be able to drive for a few more years. If you become too blind to pass the driving test, no sweat, just get a doctor to sign for you. I believe they call driving glasses bioptics, not sure.

    To need a docs signature to drive you need to see less than 20/70 I believe. To be legally blind by law and get disability, you can not see any better than 20/200 in your best corrected eye or a field less than 10 degrees nd regardless of vision.

    Like mention, you can call the 800 number and enquire about the benefits you may receive, how much you can make while receiving diability, etc, etc. www.ssa.gov

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