"THE DRAGON" (HEPATITIS C) GOT YOU DOWN ?
.......CAN'T WORK ANY MORE?............
CAUTIONARY NOTE: This article is intended to be a general explanation of the law and regulations. Claimants are encouraged to consult experienced representatives to determine how these issues relate to their particular claims. While a representative in this area of the law need not be a licensed attorney, experience with this program and its unique structure is important. Readers should not rely upon this article as legal advice.
I'm Mike, "heppie" or "heppie2000".
I'm not a lawyer...I'm a "hepper".
I have Hepatitis C...known to us heppers as "The Dragon".
I lost my job because of The Dragon.
On February 2nd, 1999, I was given 30 days off with pay before my forced retirement was effective. Before that time was up I had realized my working days were over. I made my application for Social Security Disability effective the same day my termination was effective...March 2nd. I had filled out all their forms, even wrote a letter explaining all about Hep C, it's effect on my health, my mental state and my ability to work. I had all my bases covered.
I got turned down flat.
The very day I was turned down I called a law firm that specializes in Social Security Disability cases. I talked with their main man two days later, and hired him. He got the name & address of my gastro-doc and he set the ball rolling for my appeal. Now we were getting somewhere!
I got turned down again.
The next step was to have a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and my attorney said that's what really counted.
The hearing was held December 3, 1999. It seemed to go well. I had already sent the ALJ 2 letters from my gastroenterologist and 1 from two Primary Care Physicians, all saying that I was a very sick puppy. He also had copies of all my test results, as well as my biopsy (which was very important, I believe). At the hearing, we gave him a letter from my former employer saying that I had become too sick to work. A former co-worker testified that he had actually picked me up off the ground and carried me after I had fallen and couldn't get up. That was a real tear-jerker.
On February 3, 2000, one year exactly from the first full day I missed from work, I received notification that my ALJ's decision was "FULLY FAVORABLE"!!!
Actually, the judge found that my impairments "do not meet or equal in medical severity the criteria of any impairment listed."...Scared the pee out of me.....
BUT.....He also determined that a "preponderance of the evidence in this case establishes that the claimant's combined impairments ARE SEVERE and PRECLUDE him from engaging in his past relevant work" and that the "next step to consider under the sequential evaluation process for disability purposes is WHETHER HIS IMPAIRMENTS PREVENT HIM FROM DOING ANY OTHER WORK. In this regard, the claimant is 59 years of age, which, according to section 404.1563 (d) constitutes 'advanced age'" (humph) In the next paragraph, he mentions that "the claimant's testimony regarding the pain and profound fatigue that he experiences WAS CREDIBLE and not inconsistant with the entire medical record". He then considered my "residual functional capacity, age, education and work experience" and found me "DISABLED". The severe impairments that he said the evidence established were "chronic Hepatitis C, cirrhosis of the liver, chronic fatigue, depression, and anxiety."
It seems to me that ALL FACTORS ARE IMPORTANT. The judge took into account my credibility during the hearing, all the medical evidence, my doctors' letters, my education, my co-worker's testimony, my age, my fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Then he determined that this ol' dawg cain't do his tricks any more, and is too old and dumb to learn any new ones.....so he is officially disabled.
I understand that SSA does a review every 5 years or so. In my own case, I could care less. I'll be 65 by then. But for the rest of you....That was one of the factors considered in my evaluation. I don't know how BIG a factor it was...Just want you to know it was one of them.
SO IT ALL WORKED OUT OKAY. BUT WHY DID I GET TURNED DOWN EVEN ONCE?
I thought I had done everything right, and yet I still got turned down twice. I talked with my lawyer, and he said this is normal. He said most people don't see a penny until at least a year and a half after they file.
was that even though I thought I was prepared, I was nowhere near it.
In the meantime my wife, Bertie, was working two jobs, trying to keep us from losing everything. On one particularly bad day, she said,
"Not only am I going to lose my husband, but now I'm going to lose my home and everything else we worked so hard for."
THIS DOESN'T HAVE TO HAPPEN TO YOU !!!
I'll tell you why:
Because while I was waiting for the bureaucratic wheels to grind, I did some research on the Internet, talked with a great many other heppers, and learned a lot. If I had known then what I know now, I might have been getting disability payments much sooner. In fact if you use the information I give you here it may make the difference between waiting years for your Social Security Disability, not getting it at all, or getting it WITHIN 5 MONTHS!
It's time for a really hard-core
You have Hepatitis C. So?
Just the fact that you have Hepatitis C doesn't mean you're disabled. MILLIONS of other people in the United States have Hep C and aren't disabled yet. In fact they DON'T EVEN KNOW THEY HAVE IT! SO WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO APPLY FOR DISABILITY?
Well, you may have been noticing that your health is failing. Maybe it has been for quite some time. You may not be able to do many of the things you used to. You may be afraid you're going to lose your job because you can't cut it any more. Or maybe you already have lost your job.
So...HERE'S what you have to ask yourself:
CAN you work any more? No really....
If you'd rather not work but still can, then maybe you'd better start preparing for the day, but continue working until then.
If you can't work your same job, but could work that office job (as much as you hate office work) then the same thing applies. Go for the office work, but prepare for the day.
But if you just are all used up...If you have pushed yourself PAST your limits...and you STILL can't function, that's another matter. If you just can't stay healthy enough for long enough to hold down a job...If you never know whether tomorrow you'll be able to function or not, then you can't even work a part-time job, because employers have to make out a schedule.
If that sounds like you, then you have a very hard truth to face.Your working days are over. Your life is going to change very dramatically. So is your mate's, if you have one. This whole thing can be very difficult to face. But know this. Some things in life are within your control, and some aren't. If you're too sick to work any more, that's a fact that's out of your control. Don't let this drive you into a useless funk. If it already has, tell your doctor. I highly recommend Effexor XR as an anti-depressant. I have heard that after taking it for many months, it may begin to drive some people's blood pressure up. If it eventually affects you that way, there's medicine for that. In the meantime, it has no discernable side effects and doesn't harm the liver. So take the stuff and go on with your life.
If you don't already have one of the above, RUN, DON'T WALK to your nearest phone book, Hepatitis Central on delphi, people you know who have Hep C...any way you can...and find the BEST BOARD-APPROVED SPECIALIST YOU CAN FIND. It will take a while to see him/her. Good Gastro-docs are awfully busy these days for some reason!
When you finally do get to see your new doc, take prepared notes/questions with you. Be prepared to give the doctor as complete and accurate a medical history of yourself as possible. It is CRITICAL that your relationship with him/her is good. You MUST have confidence in him/her. And you're paying them, so don't feel bad about the questions. If you think your new doc doesn't really care about you and you can't clear up any misunderstanding, get a NEW new gastro-doc. For one thing, you need the medically specialized help that only they can give you. For the other, you will NEVER GET YOUR DISABILITY NO MATTER HOW SICK YOU ARE, if your gastroenterologist recommends that they think you are still capabile of working.
Oh......A VERY IMPORTANT TIP!!!!!!!!!!!
If you are suffering from extreme fatigue, depression, pain, etc. TELL YOUR DOCTOR EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU SEE HIM/HER! That may be the ONLY record the Social Security officials have to look at as an indication of your condition, other than just your telling them you're tired. And you can guess about how much water THAT'S going to carry!
Now...They will sooner or later run tests on you that will include lots of blood tests, probably an ultrasound, maybe a catscan, and eventually a biopsy, which is really the only way you can tell for sure exactly what condition your liver is in.
Once the "jury is in", if there is medical proof to back up the fact that you are disabled,(See Section 5.05 of the Listings of Disabilities, farther into this atricle)BEGIN PREPARATIONS for your Social Security Disability Insurance.
DON'T WAIT! If you do everything I have outlined here, there is an awful lot for you to do, and it's going to take time!
Should you use a lawyer or not?
If so, WHEN should you get one?
The answer to the first question is "yes". Hire a lawyer. As for when, there are at least two lines of thought on this decision. One says get one from the very first to keep from saying something early on that will make things more difficult for you later...In other words, hire a lawyer right away to avoid legal pitfalls. The other line of thought is to prepare very carefully and thoroughly and file your application yourself. THEN if you get turned down, hire a lawyer.
Some tips about the above:
(1) If you Do go ahead and hire an attorney from the very first, MAKE SURE they specialize in Social Security Disability cases. And although most have not yet experienced working a Hepatitis C case, try to find one who has worked Hepatitis C cases...and ACTUALLY WON some!
(2) If you decide to go ahead and begin the process yourself, be THOROUGH and ACCURATE. You don't want to make a mistake that could have been prevented with a lawyer.
(3) There is a group called the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) that can get people in touch with attorneys who specialize i SS law They can be reached at www.nosscr.org.
HOW MUCH DOES A LAWYER COST?
If/when you are approved for Social Security, the effective date becomes retroactive to the date of your disability as determined by the SSA. They will send your attorney UP TO 25% of that back-pay. If your attorney asked for 15%, for instance, they will send him/her 15% and you 85%. If the attorney asked for 35%, they will only send him/her 25%, and you 75%. The other 10% is up to you and your lawyer.
And there's a $4,000 cap on the fee your lawyer can charge.
The truth is, as far as I'm concerned, my hiring a lawyer is the best move I could have made. I just wish, now, that I had hired one from the very first.
IF YOU DECIDE TO DO-IT-YOURSELF, HOW DO YOU START?
First, ask your gastroenterologist or hepatologist if there's any remote possiblity of his/her staff knowing all about Social Security Disability, having all the papers, and doing all the work themselves. Lotsa luck! But I HAVE heard of that happening...twice. Both times, the patient was approved in less that 90 days and began receiving payments in the minimum time available. But in the REAL world, I don't see how a doctor's ofice has the time to do all that, along with HMO, insurance, etc, etc ,etc. to do. So it falls under the realm of anything being possible...but I wouldn't count on it.
.......SO YOU'RE PROBABLY GOING TO HAVE TO INITIATE THINGS YOURSELF............
Now......I'm NOT going to tell YOU what to do......
I'm going to tell you what I would have done if I had known then what I know now. And by the way, I'm still learning. Whenever I learn anything new, I'll pass it on to you. Okay. Here we go:
First I would print this whole report if at all possible so I could read it over & over. I would try to figure out if I really did qualify for Disability according to THEIR rules. Because don't make any mistake...It's THEIR rules you're going to have to play by!
Then if I thought I qualified, I would call any and every doctor I had ever been to who might have something in his/her records that would show past symptoms of Hep C. I would concentrate on the most recent, showing my most severe symptoms. And most importantly, I would get EVERYTHING my gastroenterologist/hepatologist has, especially any and all biopsies, the pathologist's report, and my gastro-doc's own comments.
If I were still working, I would try to set things up so that my application became effective the day I lost my job, if at all possible.
I would call or email the Social Security Administration at:
and get them to help me find and set up an appointment with my nearest local SSA office. It's even possible for them to set up a phone interview to get things started, but I wouldn't recommend it. Too much room for error. I would go on to their office if at all possible. I would answer their questions, give them all the information I had, THEN READ what they had written to make sure they got it right. Then I would take home the huge pile of papers I still had to finish on my own, and start in on them.
I would fill out all these forms I had brought home and send off for any information needed that I didn't have on hand. Then I would put all my medical records on one side of a desk/table and the Section 5.05 requirements I mentioned above on the other. And any place I found in my medical records that met the SSA criteria, I would HIGHLIGHT BOTH and write down MATCHING REFERENCE NUMBERS on both so the SSA Board could easily match them up. THEN I would write a letter to the SSA Disability Determination Services office in my state pointing out exactly where my conditions meet their requirements.
I would get LETTERS FROM EVERY DOCTOR I could that points toward my symptoms being SO SERIOUS that I COULDN'T WORK ANYMORE!
An old family doctor might be able to point out that I seemed to have "the flu" more than normal for years, or that I had suffered from joint aches for no apparent reason...whatever.
A more current general practitioner could contribute by describing my declining condition through recent years...and speaking of SYMPTOMS...
ESPECIALLY FATIGUE AND DEPRESSION!!!!!
I would submit all records from my gastroenterologist, including hand-written notes, all test results, including ultra-sound, catscan, biopsy...everything...making sure to HIGHLIGHT and NUMBER everything that matched in my records and the 5.05 regs. AND...A LETTER FROM MY SPECIALIST would be the CRITICAL! His/her expertise will be looked at more closely than any other doctor's, by far. I would want to find out if my specialist was willing to write a letter to the effect that I was suffering from disabling symptoms as SOON AS POSSIBLE. Because if my own gastroenterologist were to testify that it is his/her opinion that I am able to continue working, I WOULD HAVE VIRTUALLY NO CHANCE of qualifying for disability.
Another thing I would do if possible would be to contact people I have been working with and find out if any of them would write a notarized letter (or even personal testimony, if it comes to that) to the effect that they have had daily contact with me on the job for however long, and personally seen me deteriorate until I have become so fatigued and/or depressed that I am no longer able to function.
Of course if I had a lawyer, I would have him/her take a look at all of this and give his/her opinion. BUT...I WOULD NOT allow them to do my thinking for me! If they say they don't think these things are necessary and that I should wait to see what the board says first, then send in more if I needed to...That would be like a red flag to me. It is my firm opinion that AS MUCH SOLID MEDICAL INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE should be given to the Social Security officials RIGHT FROM THE FIRST!
I have another idea, but I can see a problem with it right away:
The most successful results I've heard of have been by way of the patient's specialist sending in the application. Therefore, I would talk with my gastroenterologist's office. I would tell them that I wouldn't expect them to do all the legwork, with all they have to do. So I have done it, gathered it all together, and have it ready to send. And then I would take the whole package to their office and HAVE THEM MAIL IT WITH THEIR ENVELOPE, PUTTING THE DOCTOR'S RECOMMENDATION RIGHT ON TOP, using their stationary, of course, stating that in his/her opinion I am unable to work and recommending that I be placed on disability. That way, I should get the same result as those who were lucky eough to have the doctor's office do everything for them...even though I did it all myself!
All of the things I have mentioned here can weigh in the SSA's evaluation of your case. If you have ENOUGH of the medical information the SSA is looking for, you just very well might GET IMMEDIATE APPROVAL!
I said I could see a problem with this right away, and here it is:
If I had hired an attorney right from the very first, I think he/she would NOT want me to submit the papers myself, or send them through my doctor's office. This is just too much like taking them out of the loop, and I can't see them putting their blessing on it. So I guess if I were going to take this route, I might just go ahead and do everything myself before hiring an attorney.
But if you try this and get a letter back from Social Security stating that they realize you can't perform the duties you have in the past, but surely with your background and education you could find SOMETHING, even if it's part-time...................................
THEN IT'S TIME FOR AN ATTORNEY!!!!!!!!!!
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE.....
for your disability payments to begin?
AT BEST, they could approve your application in 90 days or less. Then there is a mandatory FIVE MONTH WAITING PERIOD, beginning from the date of your disability, as determined by the Social Security Administration..
So the short answer is...AT LEAST FIVE MONTHS.
AT WORST, you could not qualify. Remember, this program is for people who are really disabled.
AVERAGE TIME is 1 to 2 YEARS. BUT it is my belief that this may be largely due to the fact that we are all told that the Social Security Administration ALWAYS TURNS YOU DOWN THE FIRST TWO TIMES. This may be true. They may not even read the applications. They may just automatically...But wait a minute. I have already said that I have talked with people who actually got approved THE FIRST TIME. So I'm not so sure. I still think that if they get an obviously well-prepared, easy-to-read application, medically proving that the applicant is disabled, there is a CHANCE of immediate approval.
BUT remember, the money you are awarded begins five months after the date of your last day of employement...So if it takes 18 months from the day you last worked to the day you get your first check...You get 13 months' RETROACTIVE PAY...OVER A YEAR'S PAY...minus the amount your lawyer gets!!!
HOW MUCH DOES DISABILITY PAY?
Your retroactive pay DOES NOT GO BACK TO THE DATE OF YOUR DISABILITY.
It goes back to FIVE MONTHS AFTER YOUR DATE OF DISABILITY. I know that was a real "shocker" to me. I understood that I had to wait at least five months before I could start receiving payments. But I DIDN'T understand that those five months just DIDN'T COUNT. They sure counted when my wife and I were fighting to survive!
If you have already gotten an estimate on what your payments will be at maturity, (65-plus) you know what you will get on disability. It's about the same amount. If you have not yet gotten an estimate, then get one through Social Security. It's based on how long you've worked and how much you've paid into the system. I've heard the ceiling is $1400/mo. but I don't really know.
YES, you MAY have to pay taxes on your Social Security Disability!
If you file a joint return , and your "combined income" (consisting of the adjusted gross income of BOTH of you, any nontaxable interest you may have, and HALF your Social Security Benefits) is at least $32,000, you will have to pay tax on at least HALF your benefits.
If you file as an individual and make $25,000...same thing.
If you "are a member of a couple" (note, it doesn't say 'married') and file a separate return, you PROBABLY WILL PAY TAXES on your benefits. So that's yet another reason that filing married but separately may not be a good thing for you.
RULES & REGULATIONS
Your disability comes from the Social Security Administration. There are very strict rules they adhere to in determining what you get,if anything at all. And they don't volunteer many of the rules of the game to you.
Here's what they DO tell you:
If you try to help out through your roughest times by working part-time and make $700/mo or more (just recently up from $500), you DISQUALIFY YOURSELF FOR DISABILITY.
Here's what they DON'T tell you, but I've read: If you work part-time and make LESS than $780.mo (say, $400) and you DO eventually qualify, they very well may REDUCE your payments by that amount, telling you to make up the difference yourself, since you're obviously able to. So if you're trying to "do the right thing" and forcing yourself to help out for awhile, even though you can't last long this way...You may be doing yourself more harm than good, both physically AND financially.
HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT SSI?
Perhaps even used the term to mean Disability? It's not. It's Supplemental Security Income. It's the $500/mo or so they send you while you're waiting for SSDI (the REAL disability pay) to kick in.
And it is meant for people who REALLY need it. If you're by yourself and own $2,000 worth of property, bank account, cash, stocks or bonds, you're disqualified. If you're with someone, the limit is $3,000 for the both of you. This doesn't include the home you live in, your personal household goods, and your car usually doesn't count. There is an income limit, but it varies state-by-state, so you'll have to look into this in the state where you live, if you're really interested.
WHAT IS DISABLED?
The Social Security Disability Program is designed to pay monthly benefits to claimants suffering from medical problems causing symptoms SO SEVERE that it becomes IMPOSSIBLE to function at ANY type of work, given the claimant's remaining functional capacity, age, education and work experience. Issues of employability, job existance, insurability, and location or desirability of alternative work are NOT RELEVANT and will not be considered. This is a medical program which focuses upon medically proven symptoms and their impact on the ability to perform work activities.
The LOWEST LEVEL of work is called "sedentary" and requires only the ability to sit six hours out of an eight hour day, walk and stand two hours out of an eight hour day and lift up to ten pounds on an occasional basis. The determination of disability considers both the medical problem and the severity of the symptoms. THE DIFFICULTY IN CLAIMS BASED UPON HEPATITIS C AND LIVER DISEASE IS TO PROVE THE SEVERITY OF THE SYMPTOMS...PARTICULARLY FATIGUE, WHICH IS OFTEN THE MOST DISABLING FEATURE.
Therefore, the focus is on FUNCTION, NOT on a DIAGNOSIS.
SSA oftens admits that claimants have medical problems and are "impaired", but DENIES that they are "TOTALLY DISABLED".
So you must have PROOF that you are disabled, or you may as not bother applying. How do you GET that proof?
You MUST go to a specialist...a gastroenterologist or a hepatologist. And this specialist MUST be involved with your application! He/she MUST agree that you are unable to work, and his/her opinion MUST be backed up with medical proof, in the form of test results, etc.
WHAT KIND OF PROOF?
Well, there TWO WAYS to prove disability in the eyes of the Social Security Administration:
(1) They have something called the "LISTINGS OF IMPAIRMENTS" for each of the major body systems which are so severe they AUTOMATICALLY mean you are disabled.
And guess what...There is NO LISTING FOR HEPATITIS C. What there IS a listing for, however, is LIVER DISEASE.
There are very specific medical standards (Test results, etc.) which must be met. If your medical proof meets or exceeds the appropriate criteria, you may be presumed disabled, and benefits will be rewarded, as long as the other disablilty requirements of the law are met.
(2) The OTHER method of proof is to provide MEDICAL PROOF of SYMPTOMS that are SO SEVERE that you can't function at ANY type of work...ANY type. The focus for this is upon medical proof AS IT RELATES TO YOUR ABILITY TO PERFORM WORK ACTIVITIES. As you might imagine, this gets really touchy. The ALJ or the original committee has to be CONVICED BY MEDICAL PROOF that you can't work in any way.
Okay, here we go...Remember that I said the first way to prove your disability is to meet the standards on the LISTINGS OF IMPAIRMENTS? Well the section that covers liver disease is...
SECTION 5.05 (Chronic liver disease (e.g., portal, postnecrotic, or biliary cirrhosis, chronic active hepatitis; Wilson's disease). With:
(A)Esophageal varices (demonstarted by x-ray or endoscopy) with a documented history of massive hemorrage attributable to these varices. Consider under a disability for 3 years following the last massive hemorrage; thereafter, evaluate the residual impairment; or
(B)Performance of a shunt operation for esophageal varices. Consider under a disability for 3 years following surgery; thereafter, evaluate the residual impairment; or
(C)Serum bilirubin of 2.5 mg. per deciliter (100ml) or greater persisting on repeated examinations for at least 5 months; or
(D)Ascites, not attributable to other causes, recurrent or persisting for at least 5 months, demonstrated by abdominal paracentesis or associated with persistent hypoalbuminemia of 30gml per deciliter (100ml) or less; or
(E)Hepatic encephalopathy. Evaluated under the criteria in listing 12.02; or
(F)CONFIRMATION OF LIVER DISEASE BY LIVER BIOPSY (OBTAINED INDEPENDENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY EVALUATION) AND ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
(1)Ascites not attributable to other causes, recurrent or persisting for at least three months, demonstrated by abdominal paracentesis or associated with persistent hypoalbuminemia of 3.0gm per deciliter (100ml) or less; or
(2)Serum bilirubin of 2.5 mg per deciliter (100ml) or greater on repeated examinations for at least 3 months; or
(3)HEPATIC CELL NECROSIS OR INFLAMMATION PERSISTING FOR AT LEAST THREE MONTHS, documented by repeated abnormalities of prothrombin time and ENZYMES INDICATIVE OF HEPATIC DYSFUNCTION.
And the OTHER method of proof is to provide medical proof of SYMPTOMS SO SEVERE that you can't work.
There two lines of thought on this.
The first is that FATIGUE is what most often persuades the SSA to award assistance.
The other is that DEPRESSION does the trick.
Remember that you must have medical proof of symptoms SO SEVERE that you can not function at any type of work. The focus is upon the medical proof AS IT RELATES TO YOUR ABILITY TO PERFORM WORK ACTIVITIES. The most important thing you can do to help this along is to FULLY DESCRIBE YOUR PROBLEM WITH FATIGUE EVERY TIME YOU VISIT YOUR DOCTOR'S OFFICE. That way, it goes into his notes, his notes are read by the board or the judge, and it BECOMES OFFICIAL, rather than you just trying to tell them you're tired! So don't be like I was and try to keep a stiff upper lip, saying you're okay. If you're having problems with fatigue, BITCH ABOUT IT! EVERY TIME YOU SEE YOUR DOCTOR, COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR FATIGUE! Please excuse me for talking to you like a child, and for the "profanity" (?). It's just that I want you to understand how IMPORTANT this is. Now...
Many heppers swear that THIS is the most important symptom to emphasize to the Social Security people. Following is a list of symptoms taken from DSM-IV published by the American Psychiatric Association. They say you should have 5 or more of these symptoms to demonstrate clinical depression:
(1)Depressive mood most of the time.
(2)Markedly diminished interest of pleasure in alsmost all activities.
(3)Significant weight loss or gain.
(4)Insomnia or hypersomnia.
(5)Fatigue or loss of energy
(6)Feeling of worthlessness
(7)Diminished ability to think or concentrate.
(8)Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
Of course, it really helps if you are PRESENTLY taking medication prescribed by your doctor for depression. And again, this fact stated in a letter by your doctor, is a good thing.
A TIP OR TWO:
* At the beginning of this article I mentioned that you may feel like working at least a partial day, but just not know WHAT day. Well, this might well be true, but I WOULDN'T SAY IT, nor any other information that you don't have to. It may leave a door open for them to use to deny you your benefits.
* Many states have an assistance program, in addition to the federal one. It would be a very good idea to look into this in YOUR state.
Below, you'll see links to some websites. Actually, the first one is my email address. In case the link doesn't work correctly, my email address is:
Feel free to email me with any questions you may have. I might not have the answers, but I might be able to refer you to someone who does.
The delphi address is my home away from home. Once you get to delphi, you can register for free. Look for Health & Wellness, then two different sites, named Hepatitis Central Forum and Hep C Forum. Hep C focuses on chats (with some great folks) and Hepatitis Central focuses on message boards, where you can look up just about anything about Hep C by clicking along the top of the page on different things, and/or looking at many, many messages. Once you have registered, you can post your own questions or jump in with answers to somebody else's. It the best place I know to find out about Hep C!
The Hepatitis Awareness Program is the source for the neatest ribbons you've ever seen! They are yellow (for the jaundice), red (for the blood) and have a dragon (for Hep C) in the middle. It comes on a card explaining Hep C. The cost is $5.00, and the money goes to a fund set up to help people who can't afford to hire help.
The specific information presented about Section 5.05 of the Listings of Impairments came from a lawyer in Chicago whose law practice focuses exclusively on this area of the law.
His name is JEFFRY A. RABIN. His telephone number is 1-888-LAW-0600.
I think he may still be reached by email at
I have presented this web site because we're all in this same leaky old tub together.
I wish you good luck, love and light.
(1)If you've heard that you have to be off work for a year before you can even apply for disability, please know that this is TOTALLY INCORRECT! I had heard rumors to this effect, and then a few days ago I called Social Security's main office (the 800 number) and some "kidiot" (my name for a kid who thinks he knows everything, but is an idiot) told me just that...He said if I hadn't already missed a year's work because of my illness, I might as well not bother. I looked this up in the booklet they sent me, and it said if you ANTICIPATE that you are going to be off a year OR that your illness may end in death, you should apply! I called back to the 800 number to try & find him, and a very nice, knowledgable, helpful lady told me that he was totally incorrect, but they have answering centers all over the country, and you're routed according to work loads, availability, etc. So this guy is still out there telling people the wrong information, destroying lives with his ignorance.
(2)Social Security Disability payments DO get a cost of living increase each year.
(3)The booklets read that you must be able to do ANY kind of work. In fact, my first turn-down was based on this. They said, "We realize that you can't do what you have BEEN doing, but surely you could do SOMETHING, given your experience and education. Well, THAT'S NOT TRUE if you're OLD ENOUGH. I don't know at what point you become old enough right now, except that I AM. I'm 59 years old...will be 60 January 15th.
I would like to say before I leave here that I am sorry you have reason to be reading this article, whether for a loved one or for yourself. As you can see, this entire experience is more than a little humiliating...humbling. But not applying for disability does not make it go away. If you are disabled, you are disabled. You MUST BE PREPARED FOR THAT, GET PAST IT, AND MOVE ON.
GOOD LUCK !
Sign my GuestBook ] - [ Read my GuestBook
[ GuestBook by TheGuestBook.com ]