Building Your Case for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSD)
Although during his “working years” FIRST member, Steve Flury, had contemplated applying for Social Security Disability (SSD), a nudge from a recent life transition would encourage him to take a serious step toward the process.
“Once the three kids came along, our budget got really tight, and there was no room for me to miss work because of my condition,” he said.
His first “real” step toward seeking SSD benefits was actually taken at a FIRST Patient Support Forum, two years ago in Chicago. “I asked Moureen Wenik (Program Director at FIRST) if I should apply for Social Security Disability benefits and if she thought I’d have a chance,” Steve said. “Mo’s response was very encouraging. In fact, she said ‘absolutely!’ She gave me some information about the SSD and then…I got to work.”
After consulting with a few Social Security Disability (SSD) attorneys, it was clear that Steve would need to collect all of his medical records including, but not limited to, lab results, photos, biopsies and hospitalization records, from dermatologists, general practitioners, and any other specialists he had ever gone to for medical attention. Additionally he would need to collect letters from as many doctors as possible, stating that he was in a compromised situation for most work environments. The doctor’s letters would also need to explain the possible health complications associated with lamellar ichthyosis, like overheating and being prone to infections. Plus the letter would need to state that his condition would be long-term, lasting at least one year or longer.
“In other words, I was told to go in armed and build as strong a case for myself as possible. So that’s what I did.”
Steve immediately rolled up his sleeves and for the next several weeks, began the journey of contacting all the doctors he had seen for the past twenty years. His additional due diligence included searching the SSD website for various “disability codes” he would need for his application. “I knew the more prepared I was, the more painless the process,” he mentioned regarding his desire for as “hassle-free” an experience as possible.
“I have a few other issues like severe eczema, food and environmental allergies and asthma, but I believe the deal sealer was that I had genetic testing done…because you can’t argue with that – and it leaves no room for doubt.” His genetic testing, showing a positive result for lamellar ichthyosis, added even more credibility to his medical documentation.
“Step one was to submit everything online. Then I was assigned to an agent that I needed to meet with in-person to substantiate the case.” Due to the detail and thoroughness of his application, Steve was almost immediately approved. “In fact,” he mentioned, “she asked why I hadn’t applied sooner.” Steve has now been receiving Social Security Disability benefits for nearly a year and a half.
In summary, although there is no guarantee of approval for any social security disability claim, preparing the application to the best of your ability should include the following:
1) If possible, consult with a SSD attorney to be sure you are following the correct steps, and preparing as thoroughly as possible. Finances should not be a concern because attorneys representing individuals seeking SSD benefits cannot charge for consultations. They are only paid if a person is awarded benefits and the attorney’s fee is approved by either SSA or a Social Security Administrative Law Judge.
2) Contact any doctor, of whom you were once a patient, or currently a patient, and obtain complete medical records, dated as far back as possible.
3) Obtain as many doctor’s letters as possible, outlining specific details about the potential dangerous side effects of the condition of ichthyosis, and that you are in a compromised situation for most work environments. Letters must state that you will have this condition for a least one year or longer.
4) Obtain genetic test results.