Is it for me?

Did you know that arthritis and musculoskeletal disorders are the leading cause of work-related disability among persons 18-64 years of age? Pretty scary fact for those of us with arthritis. So, should we start planning our retirement? Naw, with some careful planning, the right attitude and a little bit of luck you may have many more years of employment.

I am a firm believer in working as long as possible, without creating further health problems. There are many benefits to being employed. Obviously, income is at the tops of that list, but self esteem, and the social aspects are equally important to our well-being.

But, as much as we may want to continue working there may come a time when that is no longer possible. It is very important that you do not view this as failure. You haven?t failed at anything. You are simply gaining another weapon in the fight against arthritis. What happens then? We begin the sometimes difficult task of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance. The government of the United States will financially compensate disabled people.

According to the government a person is disabled ?only if his physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless of whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him or whether he would be hired if he applied for work”.

Notice any kind of work. Not just the type of work you are used to doing, or the type of work you are trained to do, but any kind of work. Payments may range from one dollar to $1350 per month, and are based on the amount of money you have paid in during your entire work history.

A monitor guard is a person who sits in a room full of TV screens at a retail store and watches for shop lifters, etc. Now a person could be missing both legs and one arm and still do this job. It consists of being alert and watching TV screens and dialing a phone when something suspicious happens. No one cares if the person sits, stands or leans on the wall. Just as long as the person can be alert for an 8 hour shift with regular breaks is all that matters. If you can do this job you are NOT disabled under the Social Security Regulations.

Yikes! Why bother filing when anybody can do that job? Think about it. Can you really do any job, even that one, for 8 hours? Many of us with inflammatory arthritis cannot do anything for more than an hour or so. After that hour we need to lie down. Obviously most people cannot lie down on the job.

In order to qualify for SSDI you must have worked and paid into the system. In most cases employment of five years out of the last ten is required. If you are unsure if you meet the work requirements contact your local SSA District Office to request your earnings records. Or request one online athttps://s00dace.ssa.gov/pro/batch-pebes/bp-7004home.shtml. I was pleasantly surprised to find I qualify for a substancial monthly payment if I ever decide I can no longer work. I had assumed since I worked part time most of my adult life that even if I did have enough time in it wouldn?t amount to much.

Before you begin the process of filing for SSDI, learn about the process.  Get the information straight from the horse?s mouth. Go to http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/ssa-hbk.htm and read the SSA Handbook. Many of your questions will be answered.

Now you?re ready to start the fight. Be warned, it is sometimes a long and frustrating process. Stick to it and don?t get discouraged! Tomorrow we?ll talk about the steps of the filing procedure.

Sources:
Arthritis and Rheumatism, Volume 39, Number 1, January 1996,
BARRIERS TO RETURN TO WORK AMONG PERSONS UNEMPLOYED DUE TO         ARTHRITIS AND MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS, KARIN V.                            STRAATON, RICHARD MAISIAK, J. MICHAEL WRIGLEY, MARY B. WHITE, PHILIP JOHNSON & PHILIP R. FINE Social Security Administration?s Website
SSDisability.net, Charles Ryan, Attorney at Law