I have to say that I feel very fortunate to have had the help that I did. I was one of those people that when I signed up for benefits at work, I picked the short term and long term disability. Everyone always teased me about being young and “wasting” my money. Well, let me tell you, it was some of the best money I have ever spent!
On a quick side note here is some information that I think you might find helpful. The short term disability pays you for the first year that you have to be off of work. The LTD pays you after that. Now depending on what type you have and how it is set up make a huge difference. Usually they are based on a percentage of what you make. You can sign up to be paid a percentage of what your normal salary is. The amount that I had to pay on a monthly basis to purchase this insurance was minimal and it was well worth it. If you chose to get LTD please make sure that you select to at least get 50% of your salary if not more. Now if for some horrible reason you are unable to go back to work and actually end up needing to go on permanent disability your LTD company does not want to have to continue to pay this entire amount to you for the rest of your life. So they start preparing you to start applying for permanent disability. The LTD that I have has a 3rd party company, ALLSUP that helps you go through the entire SSDI process. I cannot tell you enough about how AWESOME this company is. They basically do ALL of the WORK. They are the ones that request all of the doctor’s records, and pay for them if need be, they fill out all of the paperwork for SSDI, and they keep all of the records. They basically do all of the legwork and then some. When it came time for my hearing they had a representative, a lawyer that called me a couple of weeks prior so that we could discuss my case and then we met a short time before my hearing to go over anything. I know that my case depended a lot on what my doctors had to say and if they sent in their notes and answered the questionnaires like they were supposed to, but I also know a large part was due to my representative, Deborah. She has been doing this for 18 years and has a great history with these judges.
Ok…back to the real reason of the blog. Good thing I don’t really ramble on and get side tracked. Phew! So the hearing was in Downtown Los Angeles. It had already been arranged that my mom’s BFF, Dee would go with me so that I wouldn’t have to drive or be alone for that matter. She also happens to be a nurse so that was kind of nice in case of anything. We got there with basically no traffic and found the place with no problems. Yeah for us!! We even got there a bit early! Yeah for us again! I have never done anything like this before so it was an eye opener to say the least. The entire 4th floor of the building is for Social Security Hearings. Once you get off of the floor there is an armed guard. You have to sign in, show your picture ID, he then looks through your purse and then does the wand thing over you to see if you are carrying anything metal. Oh yeah, and makes sure he reminds you to turn your cell phone off, NOW. He was a nice guy. So now you are in a large waiting area. Once it is your turn the Judges clerk will come and call you.
Deborah (my representative) had told me that it shouldn’t take any longer than 30 minutes. Can you believe that? I have been turned down twice and yet a judge will be able to say yay or nay in less than 30 minutes. Well sure enough when it was our time, the Judge wanted to see Deborah first for a few minutes. Then she came back to get me. If we were in there for 15 minutes, I am exaggerating. So basically we were in a small room, with the judge, his clerk, a vocational expert, my rep. (Deborah) and me. I was sworn in and the judge proceeded to ask me a couple of questions. It was very relaxed. This judge happened to be in a jovial mood and also tends to have a sarcastic sense of humor (I was in luck!!). He asked me a couple of questions about a doctor, and something about one of my meds, and asked what type of education I had. Asked what I did when I worked, if I lived alone. He asked me what I thought was the one thing that I would say is the thing that makes it so unbearable for me to work. I asked him if he meant illness or symptom. He smiled and said, it doesn’t matter just pick one. So I smiled and said, only one? Hmmmm.. and he interrupted and said ok so tell me all. I then told him what all of issues were but that the most upsetting were the mind issues. I don’t have the concentration, the focus, the memory, I don’t have that like I used to. I miss it. Don’t get me wrong, the pain, exhaustion, migraines, tremors, they all suck and all hurt, but the mental part is really killing me….slowly. He then looked at my earnings and told me that I made good money while I worked. I smiled and agreed with him. He then informed me that I wouldn’t be making that kind of money if I was on disability. I kind of chuckled and said that I was aware of that, but God willing maybe I won’t have to be on this for the rest of my life. He got a large smile and said, I agree with you, hopefully you won’t. He advised me that even if I did get disability I would still have to see my doctors. I was like, yes I know that. He then told me that I would be getting something every 2-5 years to check to see if I was still disabled or not. When I get that I have to answer it and/or send in new medical records. He then said good luck and that he hopes I get better soon and that I am not in as much pain as I have been in. I know I was in shock.
Deborah and I got up and walked out of the room. I looked at her and said that’s it? That means I got approved, right? She said yes, congratulations! She said I would probably get a letter around 2 weeks or so. With this disability I will also be able to have Medicare. I was not aware of that, or if I was I didn’t remember it. She said it will take around 2 months to get that. I will also have back pay coming to me. Since I have been on LTD for 24 months that is how much I will be expecting. However, since I have receiving the LTD, they will take the difference of what is owed to them. So I am not really sure what or if I will have anything left over from the back pay.
To say that I was exhausted would be a HUGE understatement. After the hearing was over and we returned home, I made mom and me some lunch. I changed into some
I am thankful that this is over. I am grateful and appreciative to everyone who sent me positive thoughts and prayers.
I am finally approved!! Yeah for me!