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Author Topic: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions  (Read 4191 times)

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Offline Solo_LTSurvivor

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SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« on: July 14, 2009, 11:02:27 AM »
I have some questions about the review process for those of you who may have undergone it.

I became eligible for SSD the first time I applied around the end of 2001, and the payments started in 2002. I think I got the first payment in May 2002?

I went back to work over the years because I needed to take care of some important personal business.

I worked from April - October 2006 (interstate relocation) and then again from December 2008 - May 2009 (dental related).

I am familiar with this whole 'trial work period', 'extended period of benefits' etc they use in order to justify not paying people they consider to be no longer disabled.

Of course, I made well over the substantial gainful activity each period I worked so I received a letter in June 2009 telling me that they were about to make a decision as to whether or not I was still entitled to benefits.

After speaking to numerous people at the 800# within the alloted time frame, I was told that I probably would have to go into my local office, which would contact me to set up the appointment. The local office NEVER called.  You can forget about trying to get through to them on the phone.  I tried numerous times to reach them so I could set up the appointment myself and you wouldn't believe the hold times/or busy signals.

I get a letter yesterday stating that "your disability ended because of your substantial work as of February 2009.  Usually, we would stop your payments since it appears your work was substantial as of February 2009.  However, based on the information we have, we will keep paying you.  This is because it appears your work is not substantial after March 2009."

When I spoke to them on the phone I explained that the months they had recorded for my trial work period were incorrect.  I also explained to them that I was no longer working as of May 2009; because they thought I was still working, even though I had reported promptly the position was temp, and it had ended.

The letter goes on to say that I am now in that 3 year extended period of eligibility (February 2009 through January 2012).  It is my impression that as long as I do not make over whatever the yearly substantial gainful activity during any given month over this entire 36 month period, I can pursue employment. I think it's $980/month this year?

My question is should I initiate an appeal? I do NOT agree my disability ended.  It is not going away, unless they discover a cure in my lifetime, which I highly doubt.  Since filing initially all those years ago, I learned I had hep C in 2007.  Underwent the treatment, which appeared to have worked, but then the viral load came back.  I have the option of going though those 48 weeks of torture again, but most likely won't.  I have never undergone any type of review in the past -- even when I worked that period in 2006, they sent me forms asking about the work I had reported and that was it. I never had to go into the office, nada. 

Is this something I should just blow off, as I didn't get terminated?  Should I consult with someone at GMHC or another organization knowledgeable in entitlements, benefits?  I don't foresee going back to work, as I am going back to school starting in the Fall and I need this, as it is my ONLY source of income.

Gotta love the government.  If I wasn't trying to clean up behind mistakes I've encountered on their behalf, maybe I wouldn't have had to go back to work this last time to fix something which still has no resolution.
don't equate intelligence with lack of masculinity
Jim Phelps, Mission Impossible
____________________________

Seroconverted: Early 80s
Tested & confirmed what I already knew: early 90s

Current regimen: Atripla. 
Last regimen:  Epzicom, Sustiva (since its inception with NO adverse side effects: no vivid dreams and NONE of the problems people who can't tolerate this drug may experience: color me lucky ::))
Past regimens
Fun stuff (in the past):  HAV/HBV, crypto, shingles, AIDS, PCP

Jan 2012: 818/21%
Apr 2012: 964/22%
Jul. 2012: 890/21%
Oct. 2012: 920/23%

Still UD after all these years

Offline Miss Philicia

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Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2009, 11:16:54 AM »
I would definitely consult with someone at GMHC, but just make sure you cut through the level of volunteers and seen someone in their legal department as there's obviously a time element to filing a SS appeal.  They have walk in hours in the legal department which you should be able to locate on their web site.
"Iíve slept with enough men to know that Iím not gay"

Offline Solo_LTSurvivor

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Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2009, 12:00:20 PM »
I would definitely consult with someone at GMHC, but just make sure you cut through the level of volunteers and seen someone in their legal department as there's obviously a time element to filing a SS appeal.  They have walk in hours in the legal department which you should be able to locate on their web site.

Thanks, MP.  I have that specific info handy in my iPhone contacts.  I thought I'd have to consult them for assistance/advice as a means of last resort when I was dealing with trying to fix my dental mess.

When I was having problems with HASA eons ago, I used their Client Advocacy Unit, and it left a sour taste in my mouth.  The person I saw for advice regarding housing assistance/options as I was waiting on the SDI to kick in with no income and a landlord breathing down my neck, was more worried about the fact that he needed to find a new place as opposed to my problem.  I hope they have changed since then and are able to provide practical solutions one can utilize.

If I do decide to appeal, I have 60 days to initiate a "reconsideration."  Believe me, all of the luck I've had dealing with advocates, caseworkers etc has taught me if I need something done right the majority of the time I have to do it myself, since I end up more frustrated dealing with clueless idiots. I know that NOT all caseworkers/advocates etc fit into this category, but the ones I encounter do.

This is why I'm so adamant about going back to school so that I can (hopefully) help hiv people who feel they are at the end of their rope with nowhere to turn and becoming frustrated because no one wants to do anything for you, even though it's their job. I've been there and it's no fun.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 12:03:16 PM by Solo_LTSurvivor »
don't equate intelligence with lack of masculinity
Jim Phelps, Mission Impossible
____________________________

Seroconverted: Early 80s
Tested & confirmed what I already knew: early 90s

Current regimen: Atripla. 
Last regimen:  Epzicom, Sustiva (since its inception with NO adverse side effects: no vivid dreams and NONE of the problems people who can't tolerate this drug may experience: color me lucky ::))
Past regimens
Fun stuff (in the past):  HAV/HBV, crypto, shingles, AIDS, PCP

Jan 2012: 818/21%
Apr 2012: 964/22%
Jul. 2012: 890/21%
Oct. 2012: 920/23%

Still UD after all these years

Offline Miss Philicia

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  • Posts: 23,890
  • celebrity poster, faker & poser
Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2009, 12:08:33 PM »
Oh, I had some run ins myself at GMHC on another issue.  I'd be the last to state that any such organization represents paradise.  I also obtained useful counsel at times, so on balance I'd still state you're better off going that route than letting a past experience deter you.  But I understand your frustration, and ultimately you have to be your best advocate.  It's just in general the situation you described is complicated at best. 

Should you go to GMHC and feel that you're butting heads or something insist on seeing a second person to compare notes.
"Iíve slept with enough men to know that Iím not gay"

Offline Solo_LTSurvivor

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Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2009, 12:28:33 PM »

It's just in general the situation you described is complicated at best. 

LOL, that's me.  Nothing can ever be easy when it comes to me.  IF there's an exception, I WILL find it.  Gotta laugh, because it keeps life interesting and keeps me from crying ;-]
don't equate intelligence with lack of masculinity
Jim Phelps, Mission Impossible
____________________________

Seroconverted: Early 80s
Tested & confirmed what I already knew: early 90s

Current regimen: Atripla. 
Last regimen:  Epzicom, Sustiva (since its inception with NO adverse side effects: no vivid dreams and NONE of the problems people who can't tolerate this drug may experience: color me lucky ::))
Past regimens
Fun stuff (in the past):  HAV/HBV, crypto, shingles, AIDS, PCP

Jan 2012: 818/21%
Apr 2012: 964/22%
Jul. 2012: 890/21%
Oct. 2012: 920/23%

Still UD after all these years

Offline AlanBama

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  • Posts: 3,604
  • Alabama: the 'other' 3rd World Country!
Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2009, 01:49:02 PM »
I understand your concerns.  I've been reviewed several times over the years (twice since 2000) and it is very disturbing.   They SERIOUSLY questioned me, last year.   Not regarding my disability status, but regarding my earnings.   I went over in one month by $50 (a Christmas bonus).   I keep my pay at work slightly UNDER the monthly allowable (substantial gainful activity), just to avoid any "triggers" that might be set in motion by someone earning exactly $11,760  ($980 X 12).

Any time I receive mail from SS, my heart starts going 90 miles an hour, and I instantly feel panic.   I would give anything to NOT be on SSD, be working a REAL job, and having real earnings and benefits.
But I'm playing the hand I was dealt, to the best of my ability.

Good luck!

hugs, Alan
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline Solo_LTSurvivor

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Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2009, 04:52:21 PM »
I understand your concerns.  I've been reviewed several times over the years (twice since 2000) and it is very disturbing.   They SERIOUSLY questioned me, last year.   Not regarding my disability status, but regarding my earnings.   I went over in one month by $50 (a Christmas bonus).   I keep my pay at work slightly UNDER the monthly allowable (substantial gainful activity), just to avoid any "triggers" that might be set in motion by someone earning exactly $11,760  ($980 X 12).

Any time I receive mail from SS, my heart starts going 90 miles an hour, and I instantly feel panic.   I would give anything to NOT be on SSD, be working a REAL job, and having real earnings and benefits.
But I'm playing the hand I was dealt, to the best of my ability.

Good luck!

hugs, Alan

Thanks, Alan.  Believe me, I know exactly how you feel.

On a lighter note, here's a BIG laugh for everyone:

http://finance.yahoo.com/retirement/article/107338/collect-now-or-later?-timing-your-social-security-benefits.html?mod=retire-after_retire
don't equate intelligence with lack of masculinity
Jim Phelps, Mission Impossible
____________________________

Seroconverted: Early 80s
Tested & confirmed what I already knew: early 90s

Current regimen: Atripla. 
Last regimen:  Epzicom, Sustiva (since its inception with NO adverse side effects: no vivid dreams and NONE of the problems people who can't tolerate this drug may experience: color me lucky ::))
Past regimens
Fun stuff (in the past):  HAV/HBV, crypto, shingles, AIDS, PCP

Jan 2012: 818/21%
Apr 2012: 964/22%
Jul. 2012: 890/21%
Oct. 2012: 920/23%

Still UD after all these years

Offline mewithu

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  • Posts: 160
  • mewithu
Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2009, 08:26:12 AM »
Best be careful your luck may run out some day if you keep working I know they are hot evil and out to get you .They know how tuff it is out there to make it on the small amount we make but they have tere rules and guidelines they must also follow just as we do. Sounds as if your on the edge of there limits a lot this could cause a review at any time . Rember this is our lifeline toour drugs and a whole lot of other programs so don't be disheartend if you do get a review .
 I really wish the best for you I hope you never lose your SSD Really I will pray for you as I have for many of my friends. If I had the energy I would probably be out there looking to do something myself because it does beat what I get a month if I had ny old job back. But like I said I just don't have the energy for that.
 
 Best wishes,
 Jerry
1997 is when I found out, being deathly ill. I had to go to the hospital due to extreme headache and fever. I fell coma like,  two months later weighing 95 pounds and in extreme pain and awoke to knowledge of Pancreatis, Cryptococcal Meningitis, Thrush,Severe Diarea,  Wasting, PCP pneumonia. No eating, only through tpn. Very sick, I was lucky I had good insurance with the company I worked for. I was in the hospital for three months that time. 
(2010 Now doing OK cd4=210  VL= < 75)
I have become resistant to many nukes and non nukes, Now on Reyataz, , Combivir. Working well for me not too many side effects.  I have the wasting syndrome, Fatigue  . Hard to deal with but believe it or not I have been through worse. Three Pulmonary Embolism's in my life. 2012 520 t's <20 V load

Offline mewithu

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  • mewithu
Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2009, 08:29:08 AM »
I didn't mean to say HOT and evil I meant to say there "not"evil and out to get you "sorry"
1997 is when I found out, being deathly ill. I had to go to the hospital due to extreme headache and fever. I fell coma like,  two months later weighing 95 pounds and in extreme pain and awoke to knowledge of Pancreatis, Cryptococcal Meningitis, Thrush,Severe Diarea,  Wasting, PCP pneumonia. No eating, only through tpn. Very sick, I was lucky I had good insurance with the company I worked for. I was in the hospital for three months that time. 
(2010 Now doing OK cd4=210  VL= < 75)
I have become resistant to many nukes and non nukes, Now on Reyataz, , Combivir. Working well for me not too many side effects.  I have the wasting syndrome, Fatigue  . Hard to deal with but believe it or not I have been through worse. Three Pulmonary Embolism's in my life. 2012 520 t's <20 V load

Offline RapidRod

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  • Posts: 15,277
Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2009, 03:47:50 PM »
Just had my SSI review over the phone it was simple took 5 minutes. Was advised that I can keep 2000 showing in my checking account. "I wish." Anymore than that pull it and throw it in a drawer.  Hope eveyone elses goes as well as mine did and quick.

Offline BT65

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  • Vegas baby!
Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2009, 06:00:05 PM »
Last time I had a review was 2003, and my next one isn't due until 2011 (unless I start working probably).

Rod, I wish I had $2000 also.  Boy, what I could do with that.
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline Solo_LTSurvivor

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Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2009, 06:36:38 PM »
Thanks to everyone who offered their input and/or experiences.

Since I don't foresee going over the SGA in the near future, I'll just let things be, for now.  I emphasize that I still have time plenty of time to appeal, if I so choose.  Based upon what you guys posted, apparently it's just SSA going through their motions. I am hopeful of them being certain that my health issue will not improve, since my disability doesn't fall into the throw your back out, or break a leg category -- and increased CD4 counts do not mean everyone can pass GO and try to collect $200 ;-]

MP: As we both know how harrowing it can be to cut through the volunteer levels at GMHC, they will remain in my pocket for an extreme last resort... meaning when I get the notice that the SSD is being terminated in X days.
don't equate intelligence with lack of masculinity
Jim Phelps, Mission Impossible
____________________________

Seroconverted: Early 80s
Tested & confirmed what I already knew: early 90s

Current regimen: Atripla. 
Last regimen:  Epzicom, Sustiva (since its inception with NO adverse side effects: no vivid dreams and NONE of the problems people who can't tolerate this drug may experience: color me lucky ::))
Past regimens
Fun stuff (in the past):  HAV/HBV, crypto, shingles, AIDS, PCP

Jan 2012: 818/21%
Apr 2012: 964/22%
Jul. 2012: 890/21%
Oct. 2012: 920/23%

Still UD after all these years

Offline Miss Philicia

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  • celebrity poster, faker & poser
Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2009, 12:31:28 PM »

MP: As we both know how harrowing it can be to cut through the volunteer levels at GMHC, they will remain in my pocket for an extreme last resort... meaning when I get the notice that the SSD is being terminated in X days.

If you start crying and acting like you're on the verge of a nervous breakdown it really expedites things with them :)
"Iíve slept with enough men to know that Iím not gay"

Offline BT65

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  • Vegas baby!
Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2009, 06:01:35 PM »
If you start crying and acting like you're on the verge of a nervous breakdown it really expedites things with them :)

I also found out that if you act like you have no idea what anyone's talking about, and keep a questioning look on your face, that helps also.  Along with drooling.....
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline Solo_LTSurvivor

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Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2009, 05:55:25 PM »


If you start crying and acting like you're on the verge of a nervous breakdown it really expedites things with them :)

So. The SAGA continues.  I might just have to start crying.

I check my mailbox today and see there's another letter from the SSA.  I was shocked but soon got over it when I looked carefully at the envelope sitting in the mailbox... the window was facing me and I could see in handwritten script:  "BENEFITS CONTINUE."  The shock faded and I found myself getting pissed off that someone could be so stupid by writing this so that anyone who picked up this piece of mail would be able to read those words.  What happened to privacy???

Anyway, I didn't have time to read it, as I was out the door.

I finally was able to sit down and take a look at it.

Dated July 16, 2009.  "Notice of Revised Decision."

Somewhat of a rehash of the letter I got last week.

"We have decided that your disability has ended and that you are not entitled to payments if substantial work starts again."

"Your payments continued during your 9 month trial work period which ended January 2009."

Goes into the extended period of eligibility explanation and summarizes as follows:  "Based on the information we have, your extended period of eligibility began February 2009 and will end if substantial work is performed after 36 months following this date."

Then it breaks down the substantial work earnings -- meaning that you cannot make over $980/month in 2009....

With all of this going on, it seems no one knows what the hell they're doing at the SSA.  And it is ludicrous if they expect someone to be able to find a job paying $245/week or $6.13/hour in order to remain "disabled" despite the fact their health condition qualifies them.

At this rate, I should go see a shrink and add on another disability because dealing with this idiocy is enough to drive anyone insane!  It's not like I am trying to scam the government, and I did work enough quarters to qualify....

Alan: I must re-emphasize that I totally see why correspondence from SSA affects you the way it does!
don't equate intelligence with lack of masculinity
Jim Phelps, Mission Impossible
____________________________

Seroconverted: Early 80s
Tested & confirmed what I already knew: early 90s

Current regimen: Atripla. 
Last regimen:  Epzicom, Sustiva (since its inception with NO adverse side effects: no vivid dreams and NONE of the problems people who can't tolerate this drug may experience: color me lucky ::))
Past regimens
Fun stuff (in the past):  HAV/HBV, crypto, shingles, AIDS, PCP

Jan 2012: 818/21%
Apr 2012: 964/22%
Jul. 2012: 890/21%
Oct. 2012: 920/23%

Still UD after all these years

Offline AlanBama

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  • Posts: 3,604
  • Alabama: the 'other' 3rd World Country!
Re: SSA Disability Review/Determination Questions
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2009, 02:01:43 PM »
Honey, my heart skips a beat (or two) when I see ANYTHING from the Social Security Administration in my mailbox.   They can scare the hell of out you....

It's insulting, too, to know that even though you make every attempt to honor their requests for information about your part-time work, and provide them with any and all documentation required, and keep your earnings well below the 'substantial' amount, you are still seen as attempting to defraud them in some way....

If you can every get a REAL PERSON as a 'contact', it helps.   When I lived in Atlanta, I had a wonderful lady whom I could phone with any questions or concerns, she helped me, told me exactly what to expect and how to go about reporting work, etc.   Since moving to Alabama, I have had NO CONTACT with SSA that didn't involve some type of "review notification" or, basically, a threat.

Best of luck with your ongoing dilemma.
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

 


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