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What happens when MS is only part of disability

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    What happens when MS is only part of disability

    I am being realistic that I will be unemployed soon after 40 years. I have been on intermittent leave, new boss who wrote me up for absenses so it is not going well. I'm trying to get myself prepared. I have a neurologist, primary, gastronologist, psychologist. I have developed panic disorder, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal issues and agorophobia on top of the MS. I do not take the decision lightly to go on SS Disabilty, I've worked since I was 17 and at 57, too young for retirement. I don't have family that can help me thru this process and with being agorophobic, my doctor visits have been video visits. I have no clue where to start and it scares the heck out of me on how to get this started. I know as long as I have my job I really cannot file yet, but my health, mental and physical just cannot keep this up. So how and what should I be getting together?

    #2
    I am sorry to hear this, but understand the need to file. I can share my own experience. Hopefully, Jamie will be along and can add further direction.

    If you haven't already, make sure the doctors treating you are aware of your difficulty remaining in the workforce. You also want to make sure they support your decision. You don't need every doctor, but just the ones who treat you for the conditions you are listing as disabling. As an example, I am seen by a urologist for MS related bladder issues, but these issues had nothing to do with my disability filing, so I included as a symptom, but not as a disabling symptom.

    For the doctors you are listing, it may be good to get your medical records for the last few years and make sure accurate.

    Additionally, if you have any reviews from work that show a decline or increasing absences and need for leave, you may want copies of them.

    The other decision you will have to make is whether to file on your own or use the service of an attorney. Attorney fees are capped by law. If you have cognitive issues and noone to help with filing, it may be worth considering.

    Some people have had success filing on own. I did not, but used a lawyer for my appeal, and succeeded. I have mostly "invisible" MS symptoms (fatigue, numbness, vertigo), was seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist related to situational depression and anxiety over decision to stop work, and had neuropsychologist testing. I also had a letter documenting my declinibg performance and abilities over 4 years from my boss. Even with the support of my doctors and my boss, they still denied it.

    SSDI requires you can't do any full time work, not just that you can't do your job. So it is important to illustrate this. In my original denial, they acknowledged it would be difficult to continue as an IT project manager and analyst, but they told me I could be a movie ticket taker! On the appeal, the judge was super nice, and even apologized for the ridiculous statement.

    There is a specific listing for MS on criteria that qualifies as disabled. But even if you don't meet that listing criteria, you can qualify based on meeting some of it combined with other coexisting conditions.

    When they evaluate your application, they will consider your age, work history, education level, type of work you do (sedentary vs physical), along with other things. Your age and long work history should work in your favor. If you have been on leave related to the disability, that should also help.

    I wish you the best of luck.





    Kathy
    DX 01/06, currently on Tysabri

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      #3
      I'm assuming your job doesn't qualify you for FMLA?

      I'm one of the lucky ones who was approved first time through. I printed and filled out the application at home, adding extensive details, and then set up an appointment at the local SS office to turn it in. I was "lucky" enough to be in the midst of a major exacerbation at the time, and I did have my doctors' support. That's very important. If your doctors are the kind who are still insisting that there's nothing wrong with you, you're going to have an uphill battle.

      The SS office actually told me that they were glad I didn't take copies of my medical records to them, because they have people to handle that, but I discovered later on that they only contacted my neurologist. Since you have a number of issues from various doctors, get copies of all of your records, particularly the ones showing that you've been dealing with these issues for x-number of years. My advice is to turn them in at the same time as your application.

      As PennStater said, your lengthy work history will be in your favor, but not if you're highly educated or working in upper management. The more schooling and training you have, the more likely they'll be to determine that you can work at something else.

      I did just fine applying on my own, but from what I've read in this forum, you'll be better off hiring a qualified Social Security attorney.

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        #4
        The prior posts have already provided most of the information that I would provide to my clients in your position. I'll be somewhat redundant, but stress what I have seen as the most important factors. (1) Discuss disability with your doctors. See if they support a claim. Oftentimes, this will cause the provider to write more in-depth notes that will be of greater help in your SSDI claim. (2) Prepare financially. Even if you are approved immediately, the SSA does not pay a benefit for the first five full calendar months you are out of work. Most people are not approved immediately, and have to go to a hearing for approval (the initial level denial rates have increased over time). (3) When you leave work, you should ask a trusted colleague to write a letter on your behalf. This can discuss their experience with you, your work ethic, and their observations of your increasing struggles at work over time. (4) The SSA will gather records... to an extent. Your adjuster will send out medical record requests, but the follow up and success of these requests varies greatly. You will want to either obtain your last few treatment notes before leaving work on your own, or will want to confirm that the SSA has actually received these records after you file.

        I recommend counsel at the initial filing, but some folks choose to do it themselves with varying results. If a person is denied when filing the initial claim on their own, they should strongly consider getting counsel.
        Attorney Jamie R. Hall's practice is focused on assisting individuals with claims and appeals for Social Security Disability and Long Term Disability benefits. He has assisted claimants nationwide, approximately half of whom are MS patients, from his Pennsylvania and Ohio locations. **No attorney/client relationship is created by this communication, and information provided herein is not a substitute for formal advisement.**

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          #5
          Thank you for the replies. I am on FMLA and even that doesn't seen to protect me. I already got wrote for being absent with that. I do have at least 2 doctors and 1 psych Dr that will back me as well as a couple coworkers. I worked almost 40 years for the same company, more than half my life, I just have become so rundown and tired, mentally, physically it's only a matter of time. They won't fire me, they want me to quit and I refuse to. With the fatigue from the MS and the anxiety etc... it's not good.

          Comment


            #6
            Hi Gracie BH. Sorry to hear that your employer is pushing you. At a certain point, you have to way the anxiety and stress and it's impact on your health. Of course filing and being on disability introduces its own stress and anxiety. But only you can decide when that timing is right.

            One works of caution on coworkers support. My boss, his boss, and several coworkers offered to write something for me. Once I went out, HR informed all of them they were not allowed to write anything on my behalf - all under the pretense of potential legal liability (I worked for a large insurance company). Needless to say, noone wrote anything. My boss did write one later, but that was only due to the fact he left the company a few months after I left. Not sure if feasible, but maybe you can get before you leave, whether voluntary or involuntary.
            Kathy
            DX 01/06, currently on Tysabri

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by GracieBH View Post
              Thank you for the replies. I am on FMLA and even that doesn't seen to protect me. I already got wrote for being absent with that. I do have at least 2 doctors and 1 psych Dr that will back me as well as a couple coworkers. I worked almost 40 years for the same company, more than half my life, I just have become so rundown and tired, mentally, physically it's only a matter of time. They won't fire me, they want me to quit and I refuse to. With the fatigue from the MS and the anxiety etc... it's not good.
              Originally posted by pennstater
              At a certain point, you have to way the anxiety and stress and it's impact on your health. Of course filing and being on disability introduces its own stress and anxiety. But only you can decide when that timing is right.
              You have received some good advice. I agree with Kathy that, at a certain point, you have to weigh the anxiety and the stress and it's impact on you. And, as you said in your initial post, it also has impact on your physical health.

              I "retired" at age 46, also too early. It was a difficult decision, but I had already lost my job, and this was the third job that I had lost, due to MS, in 6 years. I realized and acknowledged that I was no longer very "employable". You have your ducks in a row. You have doctor support (neurologist, primary, gastronologist, psychologist). You have a list of disabilities to include in your claim (panic disorder, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal issues and agorophobia on top of the MS). Since you are already on FMLA and not working, perhaps now is a good time to begin your application.

              I absolutely understand your hesitancy. You are too young. You would rather work.

              But the end of employment doesn't mean the end of a "normal" life; it might mean a new normal. Your new normal could be better than the old, in some ways. Your job will not be exhausting your physical, mental and emotional health and you will have time to explore other interests. For some people, it's reading, hobbies, etc.

              For me, initially, it was mostly volunteering in my church and my community. During the first 10 years of my disability, I volunteered to play piano at a nursing home, to read to residents, I volunteered at a preschool, I volunteered to mentor community members working to get out of poverty, I volunteered for CASA , I volunteered in a first grade classroom, I volunteered in the areas of children's ministries and music at my church. etc. IAnd I volunteered as moderator here at MSWorld.

              Many of the activities were once, or more per week. Some of them I did for 2-3 years. Some, I did for 7 years or more. Although I didn't do them all at the same time, they definitely overlapped with each other and often took up to 15 hours per week. Since I'd previously been employed part time (for 28 hours per week), this gave me more time to focus on my health. it also gave me more flexibility, since I was able to choose what I did and how frequently. My life was full and meaningful. I still grieved the loss of employment, probably for about 3 years. I realized that my identity had been more tied up in what I "did" than who I was than I realized. But, these were many opportunities that I valued and would have not had time to pursue if I had continued to work.

              I do much less now, as I have continued to progress. But life without employment can be full and meaningful. It just becomes a new normal. Find one or more of your passions, or some opportunities or activities that you would enjoy exploring and consider SSDI and a new life.
              ~ Faith
              MSWorld Volunteer -- Moderator since JUN2012
              (now a Mimibug)

              Symptoms began in JAN02
              - Dx with RRMS in OCT03, following 21 months of limbo, ruling out lots of other dx, and some "probable stroke" and "probable CNS" dx for awhile.
              - In 2008, I was back in limbo briefly, then re-dx w/ MS: JUL08
              .

              - Betaseron NOV03-AUG08; Copaxone20 SEPT08-APR15; Copaxone40 APR15-present
              - Began receiving SSDI / LTD NOV08. Not employed. I volunteer in my church and community.

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