Monday, February 25, 2013

Do You Need Help Getting Disability Benefits?

I've been on disability (Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI) for a little more than nine years now.  Getting disability was... well, it was an incredibly stressful experience.  I had to fill out a gazillion forms, providing information I didn't know or remember, including a list of every single job I'd had in the last 15 years and how much I earned there and how many hours per week I worked, etc.  Once I got a form in the mail, a seven page form, with a letter that said they had to receive the completed form by a certain date, which was only a couple days from when I got the form.  In order to make sure they received it on time, I stayed up all night long completing the form.  They were not short answer questions, they were essay questions, like what do you do all day, how does your disability affect how you get along with other people, and what kinds of help do you need doing activities of daily living.  Just looking back at that time is stressful for me!

But I learned a lot about Social Security disability, and how to get approved.  I did a lot of research and I talked with an attorney that specialized in disability cases and got some excellent advice.  Fortunately, my disability claim was approved in just five months, which is super fast.  I did not get turned down, did not have to appeal, which frequently happens.

So a few years later, I decided to write a guide for people applying for disability benefits.  It's an 18-page booklet that covers the entire process, including who qualifies, how to apply, when to apply, what information Social Security will need from you and how to gather than information, information about things Social Security might not ask for but that you can submit anyway to increase your chances of approval, how your doctor can help you get your claim approved, and tips to get your claim approved as quickly as possible.  The guide also talks about when you can get Medicare, what happens if you want to try going back to work, what to do if your claim is denied, and when to get a lawyer.

In addition, I included a section on what to live on while you wait for your disability benefits to begin.  That was information I was unable to find anywhere when I was applying for SSDI, and since it often takes several months or longer to get approved, it's an important issue.  The attorney I spoke with told me that  many of his clients ended up homeless while waiting for their benefits, living with friends or family members, or in shelters, or in their cars, or on the street.  I was terrified of becoming homeless and having to live in my car.  So I wanted to include information about sources of assistance that might be available to people waiting for disability benefits, and that may be the part of this guide that I'm most proud of.

Since Social Security typically makes small changes to SSDI and SSI (both of which are covered in this booklet) every year, I update the booklet every year.  I haven't updated it this year yet, but all of the information in it is currently accurate except possibly information about how much money you can earn and still qualify for benefits and how much you can receive in SSI.  The information about how to get disability and what to live on until then is all still good.

I typically sell this booklet on ebay but it finally occurred to me to offer it for sale here, as well.  It's only $2.99 for the booklet, plus $1.99 for shipping and handling, so a total of $4.98.

Email me at poet_kelly at yahoo dot com if you have questions or would like to order a copy.

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