Social Security Disability Advice
August 18, 2009 11:16 AM   Subscribe

Is there anyone in the New York Ciity area I could speak to about applying for social security disability - not necessarily a lawyer, but someone who is famliar with the process, knows what makes the best case, what is useful, what is irrelevant, etc.
posted by klpage to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The EarnBenefits program uses a network of organizations to provide counselors who screen individuals for all the benefits they are eligible for and try to smooth the way towards applying for those benefits. It's embedded in a larger work support program that might be less relevant to you, but I think if you connected with one of the groups in NYC they would be able to help point you in the right direction on SSI and maybe would be able to tell you about other NYC-specific programs that could help you.
posted by yarrow at 11:26 AM on August 18, 2009

Make relevant medical records requests beforehand to show all the treatment you've received for whatever disability you have and be sure to keep the doctors appointments Social Security will schedule you for with medical evaluators. It's best to provide them with as much supporting information up front. If you are denied you should contact a legal aid group in the city and tell them you want to schedule an intake appointment for SSI/DI appeal representation, it's probably the most common type of case that legal aid groups handle. However, depending on your financial picture, you may not qualify for legal aid, and you should talk to a private attorney about an appeal; attorneys who handle SSI/DI appeals will draw their fees from the back payment you receive if you win your case on appeal.
posted by The Straightener at 11:53 AM on August 18, 2009 can be a good resource for finding legal services and advocacy organizations. They have a sub-topic for social security disability. Type in your zip code here and click go. Then click the "find a lawyer" tab to bring up a list of relevant organizations that cover your area.
posted by messica at 1:21 PM on August 18, 2009

When you apply for disability, the main thing they are interested in is whether you are capable of working, taking care of your self, etc. If you show up for your appointment and they ask you how you got there, and you tell them you went by subway by yourself, they know you are capable of traveling by yourself around the city. If you don't have anyone taking care of you at home, they know you can shop for yourself and dress and feed yourself, etc. Since you don't say what your disability is, I can't say much more than that.

Those who examine you will not make the decision. They are private contractors who will report their findings to the state employees who actually decide.
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:25 PM on August 18, 2009

Just as a counterpoint to the above, being able to travel by yourself or being able to do certain things for yourself isn't necessarily a precursor to denial. You don't have to pretend that you can't do any of those things (if you are in fact currently capable), since the evaluation is based upon several key factors.

My mother receives SSDI (she has Multiple Sclerosis). At the time her case was approved, she was still able to drive, walk unassisted, take the subway, do her shopping, and raise a small child alone (me). We are New Yorkers, by the way.

Now, 20+ years after her claim approval, her illness has progressed to a certain point where these things are difficult (or impossible). If what you have is of a potentially progressive nature, keep this in mind.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:22 AM on August 19, 2009

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