How To Apply For Social Security Disability (SSDI)

Written by Becky Wilcox

Are you unable to work due to injury or illness that causes physical of mental disability? You can apply for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI). SSDI is a federal program meant to provide monetary assistance to people with disabilities. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees the program.

Are you eligible for SSDI?

Ideally, anyone who is unable to work due to some disability qualifies for disability benefits. For instance, if your previous work involved standing for long hours and your current condition prevents you from standing, you can qualify for disability benefits.

The SSA determines SSDI eligibility, and it has stringent acceptance guidelines. Mostly, they only accept individuals with medically proven disabilities. Therefore, before you apply, talk to a medical professional about your disability. The doctor will provide you with the proper medical documentation to prove that your disability is hindering your ability to work.

The doctor should provide the evidence in a written statement. The statement should outline your current medical condition and their opinion of the depth of your disability. Also, the statement should provide details on the type of work you cannot and should not do.

It is also essential that you gather your medical history, records of hospitalization, tests, and procedures leading up to your disability and provide them as proof.

When to apply for SSDI?

You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. However, you will only start receiving the benefits after six months of disability. The six-month waiting period begins the date the SSA determines your disability began.

According to the SSA, you are disabled if:

  • You are unable to do any significant work due to your medical condition.
  • Your medical condition has prolonged and is expected to last for at least a year, or the medical condition is expected to cause our death.

How to apply for SSDI

Make an appointment at the nearest SSA office to apply for SSDI. You can either apply via phone, email, or by visiting the offices in person. Whichever application process you chose, you will have to fill out the Social Security Benefit Application form and the Adult Disability and Work History Report.

Reviewing the Adult Disability Starter Kit

Once you decide to apply for disability benefits, the first step should be getting and reviewing the Adult Disability Starter Kit. The kit contains:

  • Factsheet: the fact sheet has the SSA definitions of disability and answers questions about the disability benefits application process.
  • Checklist: the checklist contains information about the documents you should prepare for the disability benefits interview.
  • Worksheet: the worksheet helps you prepare for the interview. It has the information that the SSA will ask you and space for you to write down the answers.

The SSDI interview

A Social Security claims representative will conduct the interview. Usually, it takes at least an hour. If you went through the checklist, you know you should have the following information:

  • Certified copy birth certificate, or proof of residency if you are an immigrant.
  • If you are a vet, provide a certified copy of the military discharge form.
  • The last year’s W-2 form or federal tax returns form if you are self-employed
  • Worker’s compensation history
  • Checking or savings account number
  • SSN of your children and spouse

Filling out the worksheet you received with the starter kit is very important. It helps you prepare for the interview and helps to complete the online disability report. The information required in the worksheet is mostly related to your current medical condition and your work history.

Additional information about SSDI

  • Aside from matching the SSA’s definition of disability, you must have worked and made social security payment for at least five of the last ten years.
  • You cannot qualify for disability benefits if you are over the maximum retirement age.
  • You can apply for disability benefits when receiving worker’s compensation. However, the amount you receive will be reduced.
  • The average SSDI payments were $1,179 in 2017. The amount might not meet all your needs. For that reason, the SSA has the ‘Ticket to Work’ program that helps people who have been approved for disability to return to work.
  • Many applications are rejected the first time. You can increase the odds of qualifying for the benefits by consulting an SSDI professional, such as a disability lawyer. Remember, you have a very short window to file an appeal once your application is denied.

The application process of SSDI is not a difficult process. All you need is proper evidence of disability and to prepare the required information and documentation.

Make the Most of Retirement by Staying Active

Retirement promises a chance to escape the busy lifestyle demanded by fulltime work and raising a family. After decades spent racing madly down the path of life ever struggling to make ends meet retirement tantalizingly tempts with that light at the end of the tunnel, that shelter from the storm, that taste of freedom well deserved.

Before retiring I imagined what life would be like when (and if) I finally got there. No more stress, no more hurry-hurry, no more time spent frozen in immovable traffic, no more struggling to make ends meet. I envisioned myself setting my own comfortable pace, choosing how I spend the hours, content in the knowledge I was in charge. And for the most part it turned out to be just that. But few things worthwhile just happen.After seven years retired (that went fast!) I learned when you finally arrive at the doorstep of retirement it is important to keep moving. Without a variety of interests or passions or distractions the dreaded boredom may find its way into your days and that we do not want. It took supreme effort and commitment to get here – now is not the time to live anything less than the best possible retirement we deserve.

Keep physically active

My wife gave me a Fitbit for my sixtieth. I have always been someone who keeps active. I can’t sit still for long before I feel the urge to move. Whether heading to the garden for a little trimming or firing up the vacuum to tidy up or throwing the ball for our ball-obsessed Boston Terrier Frank or walking up the hill, I like to keep moving. After wearing the Fitbit for a month I found my antsy nature translates well into steps taken for the day. The target is 10,000 steps each day which it turns out I regularly attain. I try to walk rather than ride when possible and take the stairs rather than elevator. I confess at the end of the day should I find myself close to but not quite at 10,000 steps I will walk up and down the house until I get there! Not really cheating since the goal is to ultimately get to 10,000 steps.

A friend from years ago who was a dedicated bodybuilder used to say “If you’re not lifting, you’re shrinking.” I like to retune that sentiment with the emphasis on staying active each day. “If you’re not moving you’re slowing down.”

Keep mentally active

The reality is if you do not keep your mind engaged you begin to lose your edge. That first year after quitting my job for the final time I felt I was not as sharp as while working. Nothing drastic it just seemed I didn’t have the same old pop in daily conversations. Without the job I did not have a lot new to talk about. My career was in sales where I talked with people all the time – that was the job. Now in retirement I was spending more time alone without the interaction I was accustomed. I love having time for myself. I am able to do what I want when I want for as long as I want. That was not the problem. The problem was since I found myself talking less those speaking skills taken for granted were beginning to dull. And that was after only one year! My retirement should last 20-30 years God willing so something needed to happen.

When I left my final job I swore I would never work again. Retirement was to be my salvation from fulltime employment. There was no place in my busy retired life for another job.

After a handful of years feeling relatively content ensconced in an assortment of interests that insidious boredom started to creep into my world. What I was doing began to feel routine, the same thing day in day out. I was running out of things to do earlier and earlier in the day. There were no new activities I wanted to explore. It did not look good.

Then I found what turned out for me to be the perfect retirement gig – pouring wine at a small tasting room within walking distance of home. Three days a week I engage with people from all over the world sharing some excellent wines along with the story of our winery. We tell tales and share laughs in a friendly happy environment (it is a wine tasting room after all). But more importantly I engage with others on a regular basis, keeping my mind active. And I believe my thinking is sharper than it would be if I was alone.

Find meaning (or a reason for being)

One positive aspect of a job is when you look back at the end of the day you feel you have accomplished something. You may not have solved the problem of world hunger but in your own little piece of the universe you made a difference. Achieving goals and completing tasks has a positive impact on our psyche. We are worthy, we made it happen, we matter. Retirement does not typically offer such milestones, such measures of achievement. But you can find your own ways to experience that satisfying end-or-the-day contentment. It may be as simple as pruning a row of roses in preparation for winter. You may exceed those 10,000 steps a day for a whole week. Maybe you plan a surprise sixtieth birthday party for your spouse who comes home from work to be totally surprised (totally) at the whole thing. That expression on his/hers (my) face can be incredibly satisfying.

With time on your hands there are many activities and undertakings, hobbies and interests, passions and experiments to investigate. Whatever floats your personal boat it is important to stay active and engage. You will feel more energized. You will be more interesting. And ultimately you will make the best retirement possible for you and those around you. Good luck and enjoy!

LoveBeingRetired.com

Five Ways to Manage Your Arthritis Pain and Stay Sane During the Winter Months

Written by James Fleming

Winter is coming, and that’s often not a good sign for folks with arthritis. Cold and/or damp weather typically has a pretty profound effect on the joint pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.

If you find yourself dreading the winter months because of what the cold weather does to your body, keep reading. These five tips will help you manage your arthritis pain and stay comfortable and sane as winter rolls around.

Why the Cold Makes Arthritis Pain Worse

There are a couple of reasons why cold weather can make arthritis pain and stiffness worse. One of the main explanations, though, is the change in barometric pressure (the weight of the air) that occurs when the temperature drops.

When it gets cold outside, the barometric pressure tends to decrease. This drop in pressure, in turn, can cause the tissues in the joints to become swollen. The swollen tissues then put pressure on the nerves in the body that control pain signals.

How to Manage Arthritis Pain During Winter

Now that you know why it is that the winter tends to make your arthritis pain worse, it’s time to explain some specific remedies you can utilize to decrease that pain. These five methods are great for managing discomfort and helping you stay comfortable all winter long.

  1. Layer Up

Both indoors and outdoors, make it a point to dress warmly and wear plenty of layers to help trap body heat. It’s especially important to cover up the extremities (head, hands, and feet).

Some tips for dressing warmly and staying comfortable include:

  • Wear a hat, beanie, or headband
  • Wear a scarf to keep your neck warm
  • Wear thick, waterproof socks, especially when you’re going outside
  • Wear gloves

You can also benefit from wearing compression clothing. Items like leggings, socks, and arthritis gloves relieve pain with mild compression. These items improve your blood flow and will keep you nice and warm.

  1. Stay Inside to Exercise

Research shows that exercise can be very beneficial for people who suffer from arthritis. However, when the weather’s cold and your joints are aching, the last thing you probably want to do is lace up your sneakers and go for a run.

Try to find ways to exercise indoors instead of braving the harsh winter weather. Good at-home indoor exercise options include:

  • At-home aerobics videos
  • Household chores like mopping and vacuuming
  • Dancing while listening to music
  • Stretching and doing body weight strength training exercises
  • Climbing the stairs
  1. Take a Vitamin D Supplement

Many studies have found a link between low vitamin D levels and arthritis pain. During the winter, it’s not easy to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D, which your body makes when it’s exposed to the sun.

Vitamin D plays a major role in bone strength and muscle health. Vitamin D also has anti-inflammatory benefits. As you probably know, inflammation is at the heart of arthritis and arthritis pain.

If you tend to experience more severe joint pain in the winter, try taking a vitamin D supplement to help boost your levels.

  1. Take a Warm Bath

Sometimes, the most important thing to do when you’re struggling with arthritis pain is to simply kick back and relax. Soak in a warm bathtub to ease your stiff joints and promote better blood flow.

You can make your bath extra luxurious with Epsom salts and essential oils. Peppermint oil is especially good for joint pain since it provides a nice cooling sensation that distracts from your discomfort.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Finally, be sure to drink plenty of water during the winter. When it’s cold outside, it’s easy to skip over your eight glasses of water a day and turn to drinks like hot chocolate and coffee instead.

You can still have these staple winter beverages, of course. However, it’s also important to make sure you’re staying hydrated with water, too.

Research shows that dehydration can make you more sensitive to pain.

If you can’t bear to drink cold water, remember that there’s nothing wrong with drinking it warm. You can also get your hydration from herbal tea or naturally flavored water, too.