So now you're disabled!
April 14, 2010 6:53 AM   Subscribe

I just qualified for Social Security disability payments. Now what?

In the course of trying to get some help with healthcare, I applied for Social Security - it was explained to me that this would 'get me in the system' and would make further interactions with the bureaucratic apparatus smoother. A couple months go by, and hey presto! I get a letter telling me that I qualified for disability payments, or pension, or whatever you call it (on the first try, no less, which apparently is Something).

So what should I be doing next? They don't exactly give you an instruction manual. I'm in my early 30s, and am pretty sure I qualified based on arthritis/mobility impairment/jacked-up legs, although there are other issues I deal with. What resources are available to me that wouldn't be obvious? Who should I get in touch with? This is all very exciting but also quite confusing.

I'm in Chicago, if that matters.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My mother was a social security claims rep for 30+ years. They are there to help you and answer questions. You can either call them or go in for an appointment to ask them questions. I would even imagine that by now they have e-mail/chat based ways of interacting with them.
posted by mmascolino at 7:13 AM on April 14, 2010

You should be careful. My son qualified for SSI for quite some time before we got around to applying for it. I was (and still am) working at the time so this was all supplemental. My income was relatively low but floated back and forth across the upper limit. So they would send us checks for a few months, then verify my income which indicated I'd made too much. So then we would owe money that they would take out of future checks when my income dipped back below the limit.

So all of this only applies if you still have other income. In my case we owe several hundred dollars which they are perfectly happy to let us pay back in 20 dollar increments over the forseeable future.
posted by ericales at 7:14 AM on April 14, 2010

From a healthcare point of view, you'll likely become eligible for Medicare after receiving SSDI payments for 24 months. You might be eligible sooner or immediately for Illinois Medicaid, or other state medical assistance programs for disabled people. If there's a hospital you usually go to for your health issues, a good resource to talk to would be a financial counselor there, as they tend to be very familiar with all of the state medical assistance programs out there, and the eligibility rules and application process.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:27 AM on April 14, 2010

Wait - what does the letter look like? Is it a standard SS statement? I ask because those statements say "if you were to become disabled, you would qualify for XX dollars." Ditto for retirement etc. Or is it an actual letter saying "yes, we agree you're disabled"?
posted by media_itoku at 9:43 AM on April 14, 2010

If you can get what is called a "Ticket to Work" from Social Security, you can get a list of schools, (some) employers, and employment agencies in your area that work with SS recipients to provide training, placement assistance, equipment (to start businesses), etc. While working with them you can keep benefits longer even if you start earning a paycheck.

One helpful resource is your state's vocational rehab. They provide a lot of services, and I know in some states they will even pay for you to go to college. I have several friends who were able to get degrees and one who received a $10,000 sewing machine to start a home alteration business.
posted by Danila at 4:24 PM on April 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

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