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LOOKING TO MAKE SOME SERIOUS LIFESTYLE CHANGES AND NEED ADVICE

luv4lacrosse's picture
luv4lacrosse
Posts: 1369
Joined: Jul 2010

Due to not only having trouble and being stressed out with trying to cope with having only "treatable cancer" combined with trying to keep my relationship with my wife as healthy as possible and also being stressed out with a job that now will have some uncertianty in 2013, I am giving serious thought to applying for SS Disability and maybe just taking 6 months to one year off of life's radar screen to focus on fixing me.

It seems lately my Doc's. my wife, and the Psychiatrist I just started to see have all given me this advice, VS having all of this stress around me.

First off, I am struggling with not having a professional life even if just temporarily, and being bored, but the thought of taking a handout is a little demeaning.

Let's say I decide to do this, can anyone tell me how SSD works in the real world??
I have been told that not only having cancer the first time, but now Metastatic cancer Stage 4 would automatically qualify me for benefits?? IS THIS TRUE??

I have also been told that the monthly amount is a figure determined from either your five highest years of income, or the average of your last three years of income?? I have also been told to expect to be denied the first time and then re apply and it will go through, and that you first must be NOT working at the time you apply?? I also have heard even if you qualify on the spot, there is a six month waiting period before any financial benefit kicks in??

This is the first piece of information I am looking for anyone with experience here.

The next piece of information I am looking for is anyone here that actually did "drop off the radar screen" temporarily to fix the important stuff at hand, and did it actually end up better for you in the longrun, or did it backfire.

I look forward to any information and advice that comes my way.

Best!!

Mike

VivianLee5689's picture
VivianLee5689
Posts: 546
Joined: Aug 2012

Mike,
All these decisions to make when you are already dealing with cancer sucks. We are in the same spot. I am going to have to get the paperwork started for David for Social Security as well. He actually meets one of the compassionate care clauses. When he gets dismissed from here he will have to go to an acute long term care facility and we are already having financial difficulty. I know David has always been against such a decision, but we need to have the extra support. I am sure all of this overwhelms you both. Stress will keep your immune system suppressed so I think the disability option is good. Please consider it and enjoy your life. You deserve that.

KareGiver
Posts: 289
Joined: Apr 2011

Reading your posts, I feel like we are sitting together, perhaps drinking some wine, discussing way more than we want to.

I have hinted to you, Mike, and PMed Vivian, that my husband is in the late stages of this disease. Just today, the study nurse faxed paperwork to our insurance company about disability insurance he has paid on for years. He has to be "out of work" for three months before he is entitled to anything. He has been fighting for many months - and working - and probably won't get the benefit that he has paid for because he continued - and struggled - to work every day possible.

PLEASE, do what you must. Randy and I wish you longevity and a happy life. You have worked hard all of your life and deserve compensation (sound like I'm a Democrat, eh?! - yup!) No matter what political party, I am sure we all feel and understand your distress. This is so damned scary. It is so very difficult for the person with the disease. It is so very difficult for the person who LOVES the person with the disease...

Take care, both of you, all of you, dealing with this **son of a ***** cancer. :)

Sending love to all who understand...Lynda

katenorwood
Posts: 1808
Joined: May 2012

Hello Mike,
This process only took 3 months for me. H/N cancer is on their list of compassionate dx's and the process isn't all that bad. Mainly having paper work in line with medical care tracking. I totally understand your hesitation with this....I hate not working ! But sometimes we do what we need to just to get by. You won't get full benefits until you actually reach retirement age which I giggle at in my case. I have quite a few years to wait. Also medicare wouldn't kick in for one year. I hope this helps a bit ? Mike please take one moment at a time....I know what it's like. My thoughts and warmest regards to you and the family ! Katie

Tim6003's picture
Tim6003
Posts: 1490
Joined: Nov 2011

I felt the same way you do at one point during my tx. Being a stats guy I went through all the best and worst case scenarios and actually filled out the paperwork and discussed my case with a SS agent / office.

So due diligence is required but here is what I found out / learned.

1. H&N is on the compassionate list - you may get a approved sooner but I think you still can not draw a check for 6 monhts AFTER you are below the earnings allowed by SSI to qualify...find out what that amount is (it's really, really low like $500 a month I think and that may include your family income not just yours).

2. Fill out the paperwork now with an office, but before you do get your medical information (doctors names, numbers addresses, procedures you have had done and even your diagnosis) every single thing you can, even from a dentist...all of this paints a picture of your overall condition and health. The fact that the doctors already say you should go on disability is probably a good sign.

3. Also apply for SS but SSI (the disability side of it) are two different things and SSI is probably what you will get, but do ALL the paperwork

4. The SS office sends out a letter each year or it may be quarterly telling you to the penny how much you would get if you are disabled, it also says how much your wife and any children still at home would get if you die...good info (I always keep mine on file...sad I know)

5. Life insurance ...most people don't have a whole life insurance policy...but some still do or have universal...some insurance policie (again, sad I know, but like I said I am puckered at both ends) often have a clause in them called an "excellerated death benefit" ..this is where you can get 50% of your policy face value (sometimes more or less) paid out to you BEFORE your death if 2 or more doctors say you have 12 months or less to live...this is tricky and of course I hope you never get to this point ..but if you have it....check on it. For those who may not have this clause..if you have life insurance, even term on a healthy spouse...the cost of this "excellerated death benefit" is nominal if in the even it is ever needed. It does of course reduce your life insurance by the amount you take, but as I told my wife...if I were 3 months from my death bed and could not longer work she would never be able to be sane and work a her job...so best to take that "excellerated benefit" bank all of it and only use what we need to pay bills so she can stay home ...at a younger age our bills were higher a month ...now it's MUCH less (I've always been a tightwad) ....

As for feeling like a handout ...my dear sir you have paid state,local and sales taxes galore like all of us ..I think the month of March is now when citizens break even with regards to every single tax we pay (so say the experts) ....so it's not a handout...and we all know you and many others would gladly trade our current state for good health and 80 hour a week job...(well, most of us, some of us are not that crazy)

Oh, if you and your wife can swing it financially, I consider telling you remployer and consulting with your doctor for back up that you are just no longer able to work "you get tired and exhaustion" is always on your heels and you no doubt have some complications from the chemo that affect your mental and physical ability ...you get what I am sayinig...I still have serious hip pain often (can't figure that one out to this day)...

The reason I say consider quitting our job BEFORE you apply is SSI will certainly be denied (due diligence required) as a standard protocol if you are gainfully employed at the time of application making more than the allowable amount. It's a tihtrope, bc if you quit and get denied, then what?? But it sure sounds like you have a very good case.

Keep us posted..

Your in my prayers often :)

Tim

katenorwood
Posts: 1808
Joined: May 2012

Mike,
If you are still an employee you can still qualify for SSDI not SSI. I actually was working when I was deemed disabled....but I was receiving disability benefits through a long term insurance from work. I had an attorney handle all the logistics for me as it was crazy on what they had to look at. If you've paid in, this is not a hand out....it is what is owed to you. I wish you luck with first the decission to do this...and next don't give up with all the craziness with it. It is do-able I promise ! Katie

CivilMatt's picture
CivilMatt
Posts: 2809
Joined: May 2012

Mike,

Good luck choosing the best path to follow, something good has to come out of living with cancer. With your good scan, I hope you have many years to do the “important stuff”

Best,

Matt

ToBeGolden's picture
ToBeGolden
Posts: 697
Joined: Aug 2010

There are plenty of healthy people that can work. Mike, I know you want to work. I want to work. I would trade my condition and death sentence for health and any job in an instant. My only bit of luck was that I was 65 before the Beast struck. So I don't have any info about applying for disability. Rick.

fisrpotpe's picture
fisrpotpe
Posts: 1317
Joined: Aug 2010

SSD may not be the way you want to head, for me it was the right way.

not working has relieved some stress, that i believe is somewhat part of keeping cancer away and at bay. it also has allowed me to do the fun things i fell like doing that day. granted some are not smart and hard to do because of health so i do not do them.

it allows you to volunteer in some sort of way that you may not have done. it gives you more time to help your wife around the house and make it easier and more fun for her. if mama is happy the house is happy! :-)

i can say this it has relieved alot of deadline stress, now i have only few deadlines. i.e. doc appointments

if you apply, i have experienced and heard they will reject you automatically. keep doing it, i was finally approved after the third appeal.

just have to get used to the idea that it give you what you need, not all what your were wanting.

prayers for wisdom

john

luvofmylif
Posts: 344
Joined: Sep 2012

My husband applied online for SS disability and local office rep called us the next day. She just was letting us know she was forwarding the information to the main SS office and within 4 weeks we got a letter in the mail approving him. I definitely would recomend doing the application online.

This was not an easy decision for us but John had only a small disability income from his job and basically has lost his job. He hasn't worked since July and after six months all benefits from his job are terminated. Hopefully this is all temporary and he can go back to work eventually. His first check will be in February.

Just wanted to share our experience Mike. As far as you situation it sounds like a good idea for you too. You should not feel guilty. You are dealing with major life issues, especially your health. You will probably enjoy the break from your professional life. You might learn to love it actually, and if you get bored, you could always find a way to volunteer at something that is near and dear to you. But, most of all you should take care of you. Remember, your health is your wealth.

Good thoughts and prayers to you

George_Baltimore's picture
George_Baltimore
Posts: 303
Joined: Jun 2009

You are getting alot of information from well meaning individuals but some are confusing private disability insurance with SSD. Tim pretty much laid out everything but you should still go to your local SS office, sit down, take all your employment records and get answers directly from the horse's mouth. I would never have known to apply for both SSI and SSD at the same time if it hadn't been for my local office. It meant an extra $9,000 when my disability was finally approved.

My story is a little different. Back in 2004 when I was diagnosed and treated, I didn't know that with my type cancer (BOT), I automatically qualified for 18 months worth of disability. I went through treatment, got better, went back to work and started feeling the aftereffects of radiation around the middle of 2006. Fatigue was my main enemy. I found it increasingly difficult to drag myself out of the chair to go to work. June, 2007 was my last working day. I applied and was turned down even though all my doctors wrote reports on my condition. At that time I was also finding it necessary for esophageal dilations due to a stricture. Since my eighteen months were up, I was turned down for benefits.

Once you are turned down, I strongly suggest you contact a lawyer that is well versed in SS laws. I was very fortunate. Headquarters for Social Security is here in Baltimore and my lawyer's father was instrumental in writing alot of the laws. He knew all the procedures. It's important to select a lawyer, I think, that specializes in only SS cases. Your lawyer will be capped at either $5400 or $5600 (I forget offhand). That fee will be taken out your first check which will include retroactive pay. SS sends that directly to the lawyer and believe me, it is well worth it. It took me a solid 2 years of waiting to finally get approved because of the backlog of cases so be prepared financially to exist on nothing. You have to be out of work for 6 months before you can receive benefits.

Once again, it's okay to try to digest all that everyone says here, but it would be better to get the infor straight from a representative's mouth.

luv4lacrosse's picture
luv4lacrosse
Posts: 1369
Joined: Jul 2010

George, thanks for the "real worl" interpretaion. I have already assumed anything driven by government wil be complicated, full of red tape and BS. I am going to stop by a local SS office and talk with a representative and just get they lay of the land. I really have to weigh heavilly on the 6 month waiting period as I would prefer not to liquidate what little savings I have left as I am still putting my last one through college.

Do you know how they calculate what your monthly and or annual amount of money one receives? My problem is a huge financial downsize would kill me right now, and it would take some time to try to downsize rationally.

Thanks for the information.

Mike

George_Baltimore's picture
George_Baltimore
Posts: 303
Joined: Jun 2009

I won't even attempt to give you a figure. I think the best thing to do is go to www.ssa.gov. In the search block type in calculate disability benefits and go from there. Alot depends on how much you've made and paid into SS. I would suggest setting up an online account. You can then get a statement of all your earnings since you started working. Then, in the search block, type in calculate disability benefits. You'll have all the info you need to get an estimate of benefits.

When you calculate that figure, keep in mind that it is equivalent to take home pay. Disability benefits are not taxable (can you imagine that???). I doubt that it's state income taxable either. At least in Maryland, one of the highest states taxed in the nation, they don't tax it. I'm pretty sure other states don't tax it either.

fisrpotpe's picture
fisrpotpe
Posts: 1317
Joined: Aug 2010

mike, i payout after 6 months was retro active back to the first day off work. i believe mine was like 18 months worth. took that long 4 1/2 ago with the several rejections and appeals

oh ya, i just got a raise of 33 dollars a month. i am so excited. :/

john

luv4lacrosse's picture
luv4lacrosse
Posts: 1369
Joined: Jul 2010

How do they determine how much money you receive each month?

Tim6003's picture
Tim6003
Posts: 1490
Joined: Nov 2011

Mike, to get how they do that ...call the office (or go online as George said) and it will be explained.

What I (think) I know is it's based on years you have worked (credits they call it) and amount you made (usually based on your last few years) and amount you have paid into SS ...these all create a formula for "how much" you get each month.

My disability pay right now for me would be $1285.00 (per my letter I mentioned I get, I can't remember how frequent the letters are.

If I die my wife would get an amount of $917 and EACH of my kids under 18 (or 21 if going to school) would EACH get $572.00 a month (what's crazy is I have five kids)...so I joke with my wife all the time that if I am dead she would make pretty good money between what she and the kids would get monthly ...she would not have to touch the Life Insurance money for YEARS!!! :)

Best,

Tim

hwt's picture
hwt
Posts: 1824
Joined: Jun 2012

Tough call. I would consider, benefits, insurance (life, health, disability) consequences of giving up your job. Whether you work in a field that you could reasonably expect to find employment if you chose to return in the future. Personally, getting back to work has been very rewarding for me but then I don't have a stressful job. Is leave of absence an option? In these situations, I try to ask what is the worst that could happen either way? EX. if you quit work in one column and if you continue in the other. With all the other uncertainty going on, I'm not so certain I have the personality to undertake more uncertainty. In fact, I always thought I would jump on SS$ at 62 but that is just around the corner, in January for me, and I'm just not ready to give up a job I actually enjoy going to 4 days a week. Is cutting back hours an option?

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