Start the application process for Social Security Disability yesterday. Even nurses in the hospital/rehab center told me: Start the SSD application process immediately, even if you have a year’s worth of private Long Term Disability insurance (LTD).
My rule of thumb; time formula. The rule of thumb for translating time estimates concerning government/judicial processes is: Months = years. Weeks = months. The estimate in the info pack with the SSD application estimates 90 days/3 months. The process from applying to receiving my first payment was over three years. At the conclusion of my hearing in mid-August the judge said I would have a decision within 5 weeks. I received my first payment in mid-January, five months later. Friends and relatives who went through this process agreed that my rule of thumb was accurate.
Lawyers/advocates work on contingency; your win is their paycheck. Get a lawyer/advocate immediately and begin the process. Lawyers have access to medical records and know precisely what SSD needs to know. I asked my LTD rep to recommend a reputable lawyer/advocate, and saved myself some time and confusion.
Don’t be shy! Keep a list of questions handy for when you’re on the phone or emailing your lawyer or SSD. Email and your lawyer’s assistant will become your best friend during this time. When you communicate by email your questions and the replies are documented/dated.
Your application will be rejected at least once, probably twice. Prepare to get turned down at the application and reevaluation stage. It’s frustrating, though typical to have to repeat the process, including medical exam(s).
Prepare for medical exams by SSD physicians. SSD will require at least one exam by doctors of their choice. A typed list of my physical limitations (mine are extensive because of multiple injuries in an auto accident) saved time, and encompassed tiny details, including pre-existing conditions/problems that were aggravated by the current accident. For instance, my spondylolisthesis (vertebra deformation) was worsened by the trauma of my accident.
Ask for travel money to SSD physician appointments. You may qualify for travel allowance to offset that expense. Again, let SSD know immediately upon receiving your exam appointment letter.
Onset SSD payments. Typically SSD payments pick up where LTD payments end. They are automatically deposited into your bank account on the third Wednesday of each month.
Medicare coverage. Typically basic Medicare coverage commences six months after a person is declared disabled. The premium is deducted from your SSD payment automatically before it’s deposited to your account. If you require ongoing treatments or medications, you might need additional coverage. Check out your Medicare plan options.
Hopefully the information here will make the SSD Disability Challenge a little less daunting and encourage you to tackle it right away; you’ll be glad you did.