You Can Help Us Enhance Our Disability Process

March 24, 2016 • By

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Last Updated: March 24, 2016

a graphic that shows Save the Date for the National Disability Forum on March 30, 2016

As a part of our commitment to bring you world-class services, Social Security is looking for ways to improve how we develop and evaluate medical evidence relating to severe limitations in attention, concentration, and persistence. The Social Security Act sets out a strict definition of disability. Our agency pays benefits to eligible people who can’t work because of a disabling mental or physical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death. This medical condition must prevent the person from doing not only their previous work, but also any other substantial work in the national economy.

Gathering and assessing medical evidence is a key part of how we make our decisions. On Wednesday, March 30, we will host our next National Disability Forum, Developing and Assessing Medical Evidence for Extreme Limitations in the Ability to Focus on Tasks.

The discussion will focus on the level of severity at which impairment-related limitations in attention, concentration, and persistence can prevent people from working.  For example, at what point does the inability to focus cause enough ‘off task’ behavior that someone would be unable to do any job in the national economy? What are employer expectations around productivity and reasonable accommodations for affected people? Are there standard tests for assessing and evaluating these ailments, and who should be consulted to evaluate a person’s capacity to focus on job-related tasks?

Your input will help us further enhance our disability determination process. You can share your ideas about how our disability determination process can better serve individuals with extreme limitations in attention, concentration, and persistence on our IdeaScale page or by commenting below.

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About the Author

Gina Clemons, Associate Commissioner, Office of Disability Policy

Gina Clemons, Associate Commissioner, Office of Disability Policy


  1. Christopher K.

    The problem with SSI is that the cost of getting one RETRAINED to return enter the workforce is foisted on the disabled person. One has three choices: student loan, grant, or winning the lottery. With the exception of the lottery option, the disabled person who wants to to update their skills or learn new skills is no different than a high school graduate going to a four year college or community to begin the journey of entering the workforce. In essence the high school grad and disabled person are kindred souls
    we have been sentenced to a range of jobs that will send us to the poor house or serve as career hamburger flippers. Bottom line is, the cost of education post disability will saddle one with obscene debt into the grave. I believe Ms. Clemons inquiry is sincere, regrettably the comments will turn into all day seminar at the Capital Hilton for Social Workers and Heath Care Providers who reap tons of money for their respective employers on the backs of the disabled,

    • Colleen

      Another possibility is tutoring. I’ve been a computer engineer since ’79. But, we all know how crappy the economy got in mid 2008 & went down from there. If you are knowledgeable & able to teach that knowledge, then you can sign up with WyzAnt.com & become a tutor. If you are really good, folks will tell others & it’s a great way to “give back” while making a living, or at least paying bills…good luck.

    • ElaineB

      Excuse me! Social Workers rarely make back the cost of their education that is required for their jobs when their salaries are often no higher than that of high school graduates working in clerical jobs. As far as seminars at the Capital Hilton, that is just ludicrous…those seminars are paid for by the social workers who attend and most are not reimbursed by their employers. If you figure the hours we work in our salaried positions, we make very little an hour for the education and responsibilities place on our shoulders. We work to make the lives of our patients, clients better, easier and give them a better outcome in their illness. A social worker does not become a social worker for the money…it is just not there to make. When budgets get tight and hiring replacements doesn’t happen, we just add those workloads to ours and march on. Sure wish I knew where those social workers reaping tons of money work!

  2. Beth

    I believe Social Security Disability could offer more information to the recipient , such as a letter regarding disability planning as far as when revaluation takes place. There are many people out there that appear not to be disabled physically but what most don’t understand is mental incapacity is just as large if not larger than a physical disability. Mental illness can very well lead to physical disability if not treated properly. Those of you who think these people do not have a disability need to rethink if they were in that position mental illness can be incapacitating just as a physical illness. Have compassion for these people as they live in their own hell and find it difficult to get treatment because they have no health insurance or no type of income to help be compassionate, and you will receive compassion and return period positivity brings positivity, negativity brings negativity.

    • DisabledSupporter

      So basically SSA should show more respect, dignity and consideration to the mentally disabled? You are 100% correct there Beth. SSA often sends these individuals to the rigged “consultative exams” where I’ve heard first hand mentally disabled individuals are mocked and ridiculed. Most mentally disabled have some fear of people or new people to begin with and this is not okay for SSA to harass and threaten these individuals like that.

      Further SSA’s DDS’ demand responses in 10 days, and then turn around and take months to even get a response from them after all records are in. That is not acceptable. Then we get information and requirements that differ than the statues and SSA rules and policy. It’s a huge problem.

      We should just do away with the DDS’ system and have SSA process all claims from the beginning. No more DDS’ to interfere or make a mess of things. That would ensure answers come straight from the source.

    • May

      Agreed Beth. When you have no control over your emotions and moods it is pretty difficult to keep a job let alone have any relationships or friends. Very lonely disease. It’s terrible and I wouldn’t wish mental illness on my worst enemy. It’s hell on earth. Sometimes I think dying would be better especially when I can’t get any help from SSD.

  3. joe j.

    Each applicant should have to undergo and independent psychological, intellectual, educational, and physical evaluation in order to determine the kind of work that the applicant can accomplish and for what period of time.

    • DisabledSupporter

      How can we ensure there is indeed independence and not ‘the one who picks the piper plays the tune’ going on?

  4. Joanna

    It’s ridiculous that there is a five month wait before you can collect. Social Security is paid on every paycheck. Disability through work lasted three months. So for five, you have no money coming in. To make matters worse, there is a two year wait before you can get medicare. The small amount of money you get is used to pay for medicare when you do get it. My son lost his sight, he has bills, he has two children support and yet he still has a five month wait to see if being blind is a need to collect. This is shameful and a disgrace.

    • John O.

      The 5 month waiting period was placed into law when most people had about that much time accumulated in sick pay coming to them. It is true that one size does not fit all. Medicaid can sometimes fill the gap until medicare starts. Anyone wonder why Obamacare is not helping solve this person’s problem?

      • DisabledSupporter

        The funny thing about the “5 month wait period” is its in place to “make sure” you are really disabled. The idea is, you are approved almost immediately for SSDI (which is laughable at how it would never happen today) and then wait 5 months til pay starts ‘in case’ you get better.

        However with most cases taking years before being awarded, SSA still takes 5 months of your earnings even though you have been disabled for, then, years and not improved. That is the big, huge problem with the 5 month wait period, it’s way outdated and if SSA is going to be sloppy and sit on applications for years, then there is no need to show your disability will ‘get better’ 5 months later after you have been disabled for years waiting for them to pay up on the claim.

      • CJ

        Most people unable to work will more than likely be eligible for Medicaid ‘unless they live in one of the States with a Republican Governors that refused to expand Medicaid. The Affordable Health Care Act is not free. Some of the features it does have is people with preexisting conditions can get coverage, there is a tax credit & insurance companies have to refund money back to the insured if they didn’t spend a certain percentage of the money collected on actual coverage.

  5. HTLV I.

    It took me several times before I was approved for disability with HTLV 1&2, depression, herniated disc, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, & tachycardia. There is no cure for most of my conditions and not enough doctors are aware what HTLV 1&2 are. I fall alot because my motor skills have worsened and not to mention all the medications that fog my brain more & more as time goes by.
    I also had 3 uncles with hepatitis C and terminal liver cancer & could not do any of their daily personal care on their own with several denials on benefits. Two of them got benefits several tries later & one got a call back after he passed away & social security was aware he only had less than a week to live. There needs to be a better system in place to determine disability. I don’t want to be disabled but I am.

  6. Leona

    Ten years lapsed from my retirement until I was finally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. I received excellent treatment but am still unable to walk or stand more than 10 minutes and there are still days when brain fog reduces me to just reading light fiction. I am aware this condition is chronic and without a cure but I was not aware of being so sick or disabled in those early years of premature retirement. I do not receive disability benefits and, indeed, have not applied for them. My current age is 72.

    • Robin

      Lyme disease can cause fibromyalgia and athritis. You might want to look into that possibility. A good site to peruse is http://www.lymenet.org. You can use the Search function at the top of the screen to type in any word or phrase and archived threads will come up that you can read through.

    • Colleen

      I am not saying that this is a cure, but…many people have dis-eases that “seem to be small potatoes”, some are tiny intrusions into our systems. But when the body is building up layers of problems over the years, it does add up.
      We are now learning about gluten free, & other food related sensitivities. I “cured” myself of arthritis when I first got it. Was a body builder, then totalled 2 vehicles within 1 yr, very bad.
      Dr’s often wanna try out new drugs, please attempt to figure out what’s different in your diet…sometimes something as simple as virgin coconut oil works amazing results in the body. Both internally (via mouth) & externally (on the skin). Just amazing how we can heal ourselves!

    • Old S.

      You say that u have that disabling medical condition and are the best of our timeline. But go out today try to go back in to the working field and see what the outcome is. If you. Have any medical condition that will show up on your back ground check .you can’t live in the past I have found that if you are 50years or older there are no one that will hire you this also go’s for people who have been convicted of a crime and served their time and are 45years or older and has lost their jobs most of us have already found this .

    • John O.

      You must have worked 5 of the last 10 years before you become disabled to be insured and that would have to happen before you reach full retirement age. You do not meet either condition.

      • DisabledSupporter

        The problem also is, SSA will sit on your application for a long time, then use corrupt DDS’ and ALJ’s to draw it out for years, then by the time the ALJ is done, your Date Last Insured (DLI) has expired and then SSA says, “too bad, we win, your DLI has passed because we were sloppy”.

  7. WD C.

    I am not familiar with the numerous categories that may exist for determining disability. However, I have often wondered if “Dysautonomia” has been studied for purposes of helping those with this disabling conditional.
    Your autonomic nervous system is made up of nerves that control those “automatic” things you need to do to survive. A few of those necessary things include blood pressure, heart rate, sweating, and digestion of your food. Autonomic dysfunction or dysautonomia refers to problems with this autonomic nervous system.
    My personal awareness of the difficulties of someone with this condition is immediate family. It was years before doctors finally diagnosed my son. Today there is no known cure or even a known cause for this condition. A person with dysautonomia can function normally for a period of time and without warning experience disabling symptoms. This causes severe limitations in attention, concentration, and persistence to accomplish what others may do with ease. Holding a job for any length of time becomes very challenging.

    If a directory of known “dysfunctions” were placed in the medical database to scan for patience’s who potentially qualify for disability benefits which would assist in improving quality of life this would be a proactive method of identifying who may be disadvantaged due to their condition.

    Many people who fail to “fit in” to the traditional work environment need awareness that help is available and how to go about applying for that help.

    • Tina C.

      The SSA disability determinations are made by using the SSA Red Book. It can be accessed for many different diseases.

      • Onderzoek

        The Red Book is for Work Incentives. The Blue Book includes the Listing of Impairments. The name of an illness is not nearly as important as how it affects the ability to function in the work force.

    • Kay

      Wow..a Very Moving story with an obvious ‘out of the box’ type of proposed solution!! ..a very forward-thinking thought which would be a true healthcare paradigm switch in thinking!! I admire you proposing this possible solution! Let’s hope SSDI latches on to it…AND increase their knowledge base on diagnosis similar, like FINROMYALGIA. It took over (3 THREE!!!) YEARS for my case to go through the ‘system’ & only after my Dr called into my 3rd scheduled ALJ hearing did the Judge FINALLY agree to my plea for SSDI coverage! Way, WAY, WAY TOO LONG for ANYONE to HAVE TO SUFFER FINANCIALLY AND HEALTH-WISE, in my humble opinion. Let’s get these Reviewers TRAINED APPROPRIATELY!! RIDICULOUS!!

      • bettyg

        it took me 5 yrs. of hell to be approved on my 2nd ssdi claim.

        1st ssdi went to admin law judge who denied it. disability folks were to send a tape of my hearing but NEVER did.

        lawyer needed it to file a brief to go to appeals council in virginia.

        started 2nd claim and went as far as we could being denied again. they would NOT have admin law judge hearing until 1st case at appeals council was done.

        appeals council sat on ALL CASES 2.5 YRS. being stored in 1 of their many storage facilities.

        lawyer quit me 4 yrs. into this. he never received a copy of ALJ hearing tape.

        i called des moines, iowa’s ssdi folks requesting a copy representing myself so i could attempt to write a brief for my case in virginia.

        since lawyer DIDN’T file a brief, after 2.5 yrs. there …. all they had to do was READ ALJ DENIAL; NOT my 2″ thick medical file!


        lawyer sent me back both of my claims, i took 7 months reading every page and using blue book of APPROVED list of impairments to find sections that applied to all my drs. diagnosis, etc.

        i sent in a copy of that for 2nd alj hearing. this time i got the head honcho, chief alj.

        NOTHING was mentioned about my chronic lyme disease of 30-35 yrs, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, etc.

        alj said it would take him awhile to decide my case, DON’T CALL HIM!

        i didn’t; 2 wks. later I WAS APPROVED after 5 yrs. of hell.

        DON’T GIVE UP EVER; that’s what they want you to do.

        i have 3 full drawers full of a 4 drawer file from the redundant paperwork i had to do and redo over and over again.

        i’d like to see FIRST STEP where they read all your info; not just AUTOMATICALLY DENY it for majority of folks!

        there should be recourse also if SSDI folks at ALJ hearing do NOT SEND US COPY OF TAPED HEARING!

        we have to meet their deadlines; THEY should have deadlines put on them too for furnishing these tapes in a TIMELY manner sent within 1 wk. of the hearings.

        well, i got my ranting done now.

        thank you for asking for input; now just please USE IT FROM US ALL so it’s not wasted time of ours trying to make the system work as it was meant to be.

        bettyg, iowa activist for justice

        • DisabledSupporter

          That kind of sloppiness by SSA should NEVER be acceptable. Sadly SSA makes stories like yours the norm for handling America’s disabled workers. We need an avenue to directly take swift legal action against the SSA the first error the make. That would be a huge enhancement to the disability process and create a goal for SSA to do things right the first time and make no errors, or of course face stiff financial consequences.

      • Danny

        Amen to that brother

  8. Stan L.

    When my family doctor said I should apply for disability as I was suffering with spinal arthritis and had just went through a thoracic surgery. I had been told that it would take at least one year to recover. Three more surgeries later I was still recovering after five years from the thoracic. In between I was diagnosed with emphysema. It seems that rheumatoid arthritis has taken up residence in other extremities of my body. I was surprised that when I first applied I was turned down. I did not want to be on disability, but no one in their right mind at the time would hire me. I still managed to limp into several job interviews getting rejected before reapplying for disability.

    • Janice S.

      Yes you were denied you need it the most! What is wrong with our system where I work there are people getting disiabilty working like nothing wrong with them why? I ask why???

      • Sue

        So sorry you were denied. It is pretty much routine to get an automatic first time denial. There are many attorneys that will help you with the process on percentage basis. They cannot charge more than 20% or 25%, and even then it is usually 2 years. However, you will receive a large up front check for the 2 years, starting from the date they received your claim. You have a certain amount of time to appeal your denial. If you file a new claim, that will start your accrual date. Good luck with the process! Stick with it, and in the 2 years you are waiting, there are programs for housing and food, etc. when you have no income or a certain amount.

        • Teresa

          Thank you for explaining the process to that gentleman! But I would like to state, that it is a very difficult process to go through! I’ve been waiting for two years and three months it is very difficult for a US citizen that’s paid in for over 40 years! Because eventually you lose your home everything you worked so hard for and have to apply all these organizations and there’s a three or four months. Waiting to see if you would get any assistance or help, is sometimes still get denied because he has so many regulations and rules, and you have not even one dollar in your pocket to even go buy a burger for over two years living out of a car, when you see people from other countries that arrive in United States, and refugees, illegal immigrants that is never pay taxes, and they get so security medicaid, food stamps, cash assistance, housing, etc, but a disabled veteran and a US citizen has to go through so much loss and suffering, and grief, and fight to get their own so security they paid in!!!!! I have 10 conditions that I supplied with evidence in medical records over two years ago I was denied three times and then just as of three weeks ago I finally went in front of a federal judge, it was told I will have to wait 30 days To 90 days just on the decision!!! Something really needs to be done to improve the process of a US citizen that proves their disabled and can’t work to get there so security, is that of losing everything they worked hard for him to come homeless, and to live under such stressful conditions for so long, it’s just not right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ?

          • Traci D.

            I agree.This system really needs to change ,I also have been waiting over 2 years for a answer. I have a lawyer and I’m having more problems cause I live in florida.illegal imagriants get more than me.im not able to get medical help even to get me thru the process of an answer.What is this world coming to?????By the time I get an answer my life will be worth nothing.wish I was from another country I would get everything to go along with the pain I suffer from keeping a construction job instead of making babies.

          • Ray

            You have to beat the system as many people are doing. Do not own any property, don’t get married. Maintain 2 addresses. Keep your money at home and pay bills using money order. If you are retired have your check mailed instead of direct deposit.

          • K

            It took me over 3.5 years from 1st filing ’til 3rd(!!!) ALJ appearance to get them to FINALLY APPROVE MY CASE!!

            My bestest ever best of luck wishes to ANYONE who has true disabilities and has to damn near starve if not die waiting to be approved!

            System NEEDS EDUCATED PPL!!!

          • Cindy

            Amen!!! When you finally get your money, you have to pay family, friends, people who were kind enough to feed you and your children, and this is after you have gone through all your money!! Lost your car,lost your house, you no longer have the good credit you once had before the medical issues. And at some point desperation sets in and you call all the organizations and charities you once donated to, They are unable to help you because your not able to pay your next month bills!!!! It was and is unbelievable!!! And all this time your in bed, and takes everything you have to get anything done, because the pain is so unbearable!!! I can’t even begin to talk about doctors!!!! My heart goes out to each and everyone of you!!! I have walked in your shoes, and still shuffling along!!!l and this Is only a glimps into the life of someone who becamedisabled. I hope Things change soon!!

          • B

            There is no reason you should be in your car as a vet high speed. VA will house cloth feed and get you a job. While you should be getting in appointments and c&p exams knocked out at the va. Get your disability through them first. Much faster proseses while you wait on the state. Tell the DVA your homeless and your application will be expedited. I’m a proud ass 11b combat vet 100% disabled now back on my feet. I was homeless and so bad off I wanted to just die. There are tons of va programs for us to take advantage of. You got to want it bad enough. Stop with excuses telling yourself you can’t and just do it! I learned a ton having to navigate the barriers of bullshit the va left for me. But over came some difficult times to be awarded 100% in a 3 month time span. Veterans I can fill you full of knowledge kept quiet. Programs Available like this could end so many battles in distress. Vets 4 vets. 4054326985. Any questions at all I welcome or just another vet hear to talk to.

        • Danny

          The average disabled person cant finacial afford to wait 2 yrs. By then your starving homeless and financial ruined. lose your car and end up living under a overpass or something. thats what we get for working hard all our un disabled lives. them BAM you get hurt on the job, or become ill. A 2 year wait will wipe your savings , 401k and what ever other investments you have’ yet alone to pay for all the bills asscociated with your illness. I scoff at your saying that there are programs out there to help you thru ……. have you ever tried to get housing assitance ? here in Reno, NVnthe waiting line for assitance for housing is 2 to 2 1/2 years long, With people getting ill and the time it takes to get disablity thru SSA, defendly has a large part to do with the growing number of homeless and hungry people in america. Its our money we’er hurting and we need it get on the the ball SSA. Not everyone is faking it or is lazy we’er genuinely hurt and downtroden, why must we suffer any longer ???????? can you answer me that question since we have to fill out an application with hundreds of question on it, can you answerjust that one question ???

          • Treeza

            I’m on SS Disability. When the process started, I rode on the city bus scoping out places to live – I’m talking trees and bushes, not a home with 4 walls. I applied for my state’s adult disability and was awarded $329 cash per month, $160 in food stamps and full medicaid. I found a transient hotel with a room for $290 per month. It was like living in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” I did have food, I had a roof, and I had an extra $39 per month for everything else I needed. I considered myself lucky even though I had paid SS all my life and had well over the 40 quarters needed. It took 4-1/2 years. I learned a lot about the downtrodden and how our systems put them there. I had to pay back the state when my claim was awarded but did so happily because they helped me to continue on. Look to your state services. Becoming disabled means having to swallow a lot of pride. One day you will prevail. Most claims get denied on the first pass, they are playing the odds – just like Vegas, figuring that a certain percentage won’t appeal. Appeal with an attorney – it is so worth it. If denied a 2nd time, appeal again. Most who do have their claims approved. The real fraud is so minimal but is used as an excuse to delay our benefits. Keep fighting.

          • Laura

            I too am in Washoe County NV. I applied for SSDI in June 2017. I retired on disability from civil service with a rated workers comp injury in 2008 and I did qualify to work with PERS approval but not in the field I was in for my civil service career. I also worked in the private sector prior to civil service. So I went to work locally at a call center for an industrial supply. I worked there almost 7 years. I had knee replacement done and suffered permanent nerve damage in my L4 L5 nerve. I have had spinal epidurals, Nerve Ablations and nothing worked. the neurosurgeon said there is nothing more that can be done for my situation.I was on opioid painkillers for several years and I refuse to take them now. I have not taken any for several years. I am unable to sit for long, have my knee bent by sitting at a small cubicle, stand in one spot, walk continually, etc. I suffer horrendous leg spasms in my right leg and right lower back which keeps me up at night. I cannot afford private pay health insurance. I have not been able to see a doctor due to that but the Social Security doctor that SSA sent me to see was in complete agreement with my condition being exactly what I have stated it is. So the good folks at SSA have decided I am fully capable of having a job. I am now at level4 in the decision process. I asked to have a hearing before a judge and that was denied by SSA with them stating that I did not file that request before the deadline. Not true, I have the USPS tracking number for the certified letter I sent them with that request to their Baltimore facility. When I called to find out why I had never heard back the claims worker told me “why did you send that to Baltimore? I told her that I followed the instruction on the letter they sent me saying to file the request by mailing it to the SSA Baltimore Facility and it should be on the letter in the system. I send all my requests by “certified Mail/Signature Required because SSA continually during this process started claiming that they never received items/they received items late, etc. It is bullshit that we have to go thru this demeaning process for money that we have paid into this system AGAINST OUR WILL, and we are denied but illegal aliens are provided with the benefits we should be given. I feel that I am, and many others are being discriminated against for being legal, USA BORN citizens and the fact that I am a single Caucasian female with no criminal history who has worked and paid taxes since I was 14 years old and I cannot get the SSID because I am not a Hispanic/Black or Asian illegal alien. Is there a lawyer out there who can help with a discrimination suit against SSA? I have more than followed SSA’s requests, I have more than met the medical determination for disability and I am at level 4 and no one can tell me what that is only that there is 5 more months I have to wait for them to decide. the kicker to this is that because I have a PERS pension, I am only entitled to a small portion of my SSA retirement due to the Windfall Elimination Program and this is something that needs to be eliminated and we deserve our rightful funds. We are punished because no SSA taxes were taken from our pay as civil service employees yet we have worked private sector and paid in and should be entitled to our full amount due for those years.

        • Andrew

          Ive been trying for 9 years so don’t hold your breath. They find every little excuse to not approve you or even just ignore the rules altogether.

          • David K.

            Yes they do look for every excuse to determine if you’re eligible for SSD. It took me 2 and a half years to be awarded my SSD. My advice for anyone applying for SSD, first get an attorney the work on a contingent fee. Receiving a percentage if they win. The actual fee may and more than likely will be reduced by Social Security. Second, DO NOT GIVE UP! My case went as far as it could, to the appeals Council.

      • Karen G.

        Ever notice that more and more of the general public is disabled? I have my own conspiracy theories on that… Nonetheless, SSA has been fighting for years to pay those on SSDI and now the numbers of folks collecting are astronomical! They are restructuring the methods by which they determine who is and is not disabled as well as how much one will collect if approved. And yes, there are thousands who really could have or could even now work but there are always scammers out there who will use the system for themselves. It hurts the honest folks, which I feel includes you, and who needs it now. I wish I could help somehow because I feel IT’S YOUR MONEY AND YOU NEED IT NOW!

      • David K.

        Don’t make the mistake of thinking someone drawing disability is not disabled because they don’t appear disabled and or are working. There are many hidden disabilities. When I first started receiving S.S.D. I was reported twice. I was able to do a few things for so long. Now I spend more time in bed that out of bed.

    • lewis t.

      it seems like standard SS practice to always reject the first claim for social security…and it all depends on who decides your case….that means years of delays as you must re apply several times….and the rules are so flexible the results are not assured….sorry..

      • Danny

        amen to that sister !!!!!

    • Jenna Y.

      Stan, we are sorry to hear your applications for disability did not go the way you had hoped. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability. Please keep in mind that the Social Security Act sets out a very strict definition of disability, much different than the requirements for other government programs. You may find our listing of impairments useful.

      You have the right to file an appeal. However, you must request an appeal in writing, within 60 days from the date you received the letter explaining our decision. If you need help with your appeal, you can contact her local Social Security office.

      Also, you may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include Medicaid, free meals, housekeeping help, transportation or help with other problems. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services or welfare office.

      • Danny

        Really ? thats just more red tape, why cant our goverment of the greatest country that ever was, help its own people???? Why?

      • Lisa

        I feel for people who may not have the resources, understanding or capability to find out resources. I work in the healthcare field. The doctors I have worked for over the last 15 years have asked me to find help for patients who need assistance in areas that effect their health. I am a Medical Assistant and not a Social Worker. We need to find ways to help people through our government’s “red tape”… Better yet, reduce it! Don’t use the red tape and the possible 2 year wait to sort through who you may think is SERIOUS and determined (or has exra money lying around) with their disability claim! That’s immoral and a waste of the taxpayer’s money!! I have been to a few workshops on how to put together a case for disability. I have M.S. If the stress of trying to work in health care and stay sharp doesn’t put me into a major relapse, going through the preparation, filing, rejection and appeal of a SSDI claim will!!!!

      • Teresa

        SS IS PAID for short term disability! Drug addicts get it when they go into rehab!!!!!

        • Phil

          no they don’t. must suffer from a disability that is expected to last 12 months or result in death. If the only thing that disables you is drug use, you are disqualified.

          • Shawty

            Drug use could result in death!!!

        • Anonymous

          Actually they don’t. If Social Security pays them anything it would be SSI, which is completely different than SSDI or SSA benefits. In order to collect SSDI or SSA payments, you must first have exhausted your years worth of State Disability Benefits, if you worked and paid into the fund. That is one of the first questions asked when you apply.

      • Barbara t.

        Dont richmoned ind office I live apt next my husband we don’t live to gather I can’t live bye myself I have next me why some one I knew try murder me I open door a man in a masks hammer bye wall had no I deal poor acid down my mouth all over my face beat in head over over then got top break my neck I did die once had seventeen surgery blind in one eye tbi braien engr lost half my ear hair teeth two in their that day my home then after was rested try haired a another man kill ,from jail and it was a cop they went prison they both out now social security send some one out here look apt 1 apt 2 police came her fire wall up own bath room and owe stuff is apt 1 2 I was abuse for years I don’t I why put up with it it way life for me cause mom beat rape same time e blood going ever here I want drawn my husband been married ten years he retirement he owe business i should drawn off him i got selements attorney general sing for open ,e a trust social security tlod thats lawyers what talking about or attorney general what tlod me then i did not my check cause no ice box or you know what mean trouble spelling then other day trod no bath room all I know richmoned ind the woman up their need loose their jobs I ant only one they so much stuff missed up if I kill my self my family after them I can’t take no more done them my mom here security security show up here my sister my brother lady ask things should not ask from secsecurity Richmond ind no attorney general office took all that stop check getting really I heard to drawn my husband ed I don’t live with cause retirement now had owe business aim very diasbitaly aim blind one eye have zcisers my head feel s like die some time my head hot like fire my so up set I had six zcisers how like beat head with hammer over eyes be top four head and acid poured down your mouth all over your face beat hammer all over your body then top break your neck then they try kill again cops called me in said ,eat your hit man I just starting crying sent out twon under another name they both out now the court put order so could come around me the woman try kill me took court have drop this just hen six weeks ago she never gone love me alone man here same twon then after that year half I found son dead in my bed and my grand baby I know some one at socially security know me works with them up their I have pictures printing out if hard read this I ant spell check will help me any one my sister gone go on new for me about richmoned office I know twenty people that on it works cash some true miss with

      • May

        So I have a documented disability, letters from my doctors with diagnosis that I have had for over 20 years . Health records, letters fom my doctor, family and co workers stating that I am not able to work due to my documented disability, all of my doctors and hospital visits and medications that I have taken for over 20 years and yet the SSD says that I don’t meet the criteria for a disability for my mental illnesses and that I can can get along with people for short periods of time (??) where can I apply for a job that only requires me “to be around people for short periods of time” and also that my illness does not effect my concentration or moods. They say that but have no recommendations for what kind of job they think I am qualified for. Should I tell the interviewer I can only be around others for short periods of time. Then what? Leave? How can I support myself working for short periods of time? What exactly do the doctors doing the reviews think borderline personality disorder, bipolar and anxiety disorder does to a person trying to hold down a job? How about the 60+ jobs I have lost in the last 30 years? Am I making this up? This is embarrassing as hell and having to go through all of this red tape to get help when I need it and have paid into the system is disgusting. We need help now not two-three years from now. How can we live?

      • Leslie

        I am a former fraud investigator and can tell you that SS is riddled with fraudulent applications. If you’re really disabled, you get your benefits, it’s those who are lying about the severity of their disability who are to blame for delays.

        • Andrew

          You need a reality check. You don’t get benefits if your really disabled

      • Isa

        This money is earned by my hard work floor years. I trusted our government to keep it safe. Our government has no issue dipping their fingers into our savings. As far as disability you expect people to be on their death bed. The system is corrupt. I am not apply g for a loan I am simy asking to help me keep a float so I am not hopess. I wonder if tour internal people or our politicians go through the hell that ordinary people do. Not everyone is a thief. I have worked hard all my life and when I need my government to help me they turn their away . Please don’t use your blue book. I am not a car, or nber. I am human being . If you people make this process a better working policy many people won’t end up homeless. I never thought I will be on this position. The system is not a sustem. It is designed to benefit only one person. You. The truth is that you would do anything to deny people. We earned this money.

      • Depressed

        I just want what I have earned. Please read your mission and vision statement. You are doing no one any favors. By prolonging the process we are slowly dying.
        Do you think I want be here in this situation. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to be healthy again. Humility is not your strongest suit. People need help. Take care of your people not the other coutries. Shame on you people.

    • paul

      been there ,told I could not work for civil service ,put in for disability ret. usps says must apply for ss dis.still took 3 years even though I had nothing coming because of the 5 out of ten rule.then had to see judge he asked where my lawyer was,told him no money in it for lawyer.so he signed paper .

    • John O.

      It is not routine to be denied disability. That is an old wives tale. You do not need an attorney until maybe you have to file for a hearing. Usually one is denied for lack of medical evidence. You have a right to see what medical evidence was used in deciding your case. Make an appointment to go into the local office to review your file. You’d be surprised at the information that is missing. Also, doctors will tell people to file but then are remiss in providing the information needed. So if you reapply you need to review your file. Have a friend or relative help you if necessary but hire an attorney? Not until you need a mouthpiece before an Administrative Law Judge.

      • Danny

        If your case is legit, it should never have to go that far, right ?

        • DisabledSupporter

          Wrong, for those who are immediately qualified for benefits, corruption in the state DDS’ and in the ALJ system leads to huge messes in terms of getting paid the benefits you worked for. There should be an opt out system of having money taken from your pay check if SSA will act in bad faith and not process claims fairly when you become obviously disabled under the rules. SSA needs to follow the rules the make, not make up new ones as they go along.

      • Treeza

        No old wives tale. During the Clinton administration, first time approval ratings were in the mid 70 percentile range. During Bush, it fell to 44%. Why – because funds were needed for the Iraq war. No wives tale. It created a giant back-log of appeal cases that lasted for years. Research the facts – please don’t just stand in denial.

      • Margee M.

        John you are correct I’m a non-attorney rep. I take claims on from the very beginning – interview my clients, gather up all their medical records BEFORE I file their claim. We have a better chance of an early approval. I get all updated medical records & submit all along the to the adjudicator, contact my clients, at least once a month to check in on them, call their adjudicator w/medication changes, new Dr appointments, or changes in condition. People expect once they file a claim that SSA will make sure all the info is constantly updated – they have no way of knowing of changes, etc unless you tell them. Functioning reports & work history reports are key- they need to know exactly what prevents you from working-not just ‘I can’t stand for long periods of time’ or ‘I don’t like to be around people’ … Be specific. How long, how many people, what happens?
        Work history- what exactly did you do? They know where you worked & how much you made but not what you did or how long you had that job. Were you the manager? Did you work there a year but took a lot of sick days? Did other workers help you do your job-did you get fired? & why — can’t be too specific. The adjudicator who is working your claim only has the med records supplied- they can see you- let them know your story, daily struggles & keep them posted on your medical info get as much medical info you can to support your claim. Once SSA sends you to their examiner – your claim is done. They’re just covering their bases – I believe in my heart that there has never been a case approved on the medical or psych eval done by a SSA paid Dr
        if a claim meets the listing, they ARE approved at the first filing filming an appeal – reconsideration – unless your health has dramatically declined, will more than likely be denied plus people usually put there is ‘no change’ on their appeal – there has to be some change listed or they’ll make the same decision
        ALWAYS appeal in a timely manner Please don’t let the time expire & start all over again I can’t tell you how many clients come to me saying they’ve been ‘fighting’ this for 8 yrs when in fact, they just re-filing

        I know it’s frustrating. Look for a firm that partners w/you- there should be no up front fees- try to find someone local, an office that you can walk into and be apart of your process, not just a another #
        Good luck!


        It sounds like you have a deserving case. Don’t despair. The Soc. Sec. application & appeal process is time consuming. But you are pursuing considerable benefits. As a Social Security Disability attorney I would starve if Social Security promptly accepted disability claims & paid benefits. Their default setting is to deny all but the most obvious claims. This is saves the taxpayers money by not paying claimants who have not established their claims. The burden of proof is on the claimant to establish he/she is totally disabled & unable to perform any gainful. Since the claimant has to have a condition that will last over a year or cause death, claimants & attorneys have ample of time to submit supporting records. Also there is no reason not to continue to attempt to find light or sedentary work even if you are later discharged for inability to perform the job. That history supports your claim. You should retain a Social Security Disability attorney.


      It sounds like you have a deserving case. Don’t despair. The Soc. Sec. application & appeal process is time consuming. But you are pursuing considerable benefits. As a Social Security Disability attorney I would starve if Social Security promptly accepted disability claims & paid benefits. Their default setting is to deny all but the most obvious claims. This is saves the taxpayers money by not paying claimants who have not established their claims. The burden of proof is on the claimant to establish he/she is totally disabled & unable to perform any gainful. Since the claimant has to have a condition that will last over a year or cause death, claimants & attorneys have ample of time to submit supporting records. Also there is no reason not to continue to attempt to find light or sedentary work even if you are later discharged for inability to perform the job. That history supports your claim. You should retain a Social Security Disability attorney.

    • phyllis

      Step 1—have all your physician including surgeon to write you excutive summary{medically} to the assigned administrative law judge if your case is open.
      Step 2- If isn’t under reconsideration- refile for reconsider 827 followed by HA521 @ local SSA office or ODARfederal bldg.
      Step 3-Have lay witness{employer}write out you vertification medical work performance assessment relating to injury,and capacity to light duty work
      submit all documentary material including use of any medication based on duration of time……If the file is close..Reopen Immediately! Follow step 1-if it’s pass 60 days then reopen new-you might can go forward with appeal..Contact SSA

  9. DAVID K.

    I served 45 years in serving the United States and now am getting messed over by the United States. I served 25 years in the military and 20 years in civil service. I have ran into 2 very bad situations I do not think is right. After serving and paying Social Security over those 45 years the Social Security rules say unless my wife is a United States Citizen she cannot claim from my Social Security. I think I earned it and my wife should be able to claim it when she turns 65.There are others that have not served and wives have not worked at all and are allowed to draw on their husbands Social Security. Would you please help me with this?

    My second request I am requesting help with is my wife will be able to claim the military SBP but the draw back is Social Security will take out 30% tax on it. I think that is a big exuberant, don’t you.

    Thank you very much for any help you can give me!!

    David Knutson

    E:MAIL: toyotamr2gt@hotmail.com

    • Joanna

      I agree with you. There is something wrong with what you’re going through. Your wife should be able to collect. We give millions of dollars away to non-citizens. SS should absolutely not be taxed. You have already paid taxes on your paychecks.

      • Colleen

        I do know that, typically, the spouse retains (unless divorce or other info) the right to it when you pass. Beyond that, I’m clueless.

      • phyllis

        Take your wife to the social security office or Department of Bureau of Vital Statics in your state,file for her United States Citizenship.There is lot of information i would have to review to actually help you.But that would be step one.Step 2,are you and your wife legally married in United States or outside.contact me

    • Stephen

      Your wife not being US citizen should not be a problem. But she needs a Social Security number. Maybe this is the catch.

      • VRoberson

        He was referring to foreign countries. Stop the hate. You are so busy looking for a means of attack you failed to properly read the post. Shame on you.

    • Senor

      Make her an American citizen and you have solved your problem.

    • Jenna Y.

      Hi David. First of all, we thank you for your service to this country. In response to your first request, your wife can receive spousal benefits if she is lawfully in the United States and meets all the eligibility requirements. As for your second request, please contact the Department of Defense for more information.


      I could be wrong, but I do not believe that the US Military pays into Social Security & many municipal civil service jobs like police, fire department, and teachers also do not pay into social security. They control their own independent retirement & disability programs systems to reduce costs. So I question were you accumulated the 45 years of contribution into the Social Security System. Were you working side jobs that collected the contribution?

      • Marcelo V.

        Can i have disability benefits even im receiving my monthly pension? i cannot walk for may years im74yrs old. im divorced and i dont have children.i only have my caregiver who takes care of me..can i give her all the benefits when i die? im willing to give all to her because of the sacrifices shes doing for me for a long time.pls tell me what to do.Thank you

    • Karen G.

      I hope you either misunderstood what the SSA has told you or that you talk with someone else who can fix this mess. Hope you can see that we, the general public, stand behind you. I personally would do whatever is within reason to see that your benefits will be provided to your spouse.

  10. Crystie

    I can’t always remember my name or age much less yours but I could probably tell you about.what you studied in school.

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