Monday, November 30, 2009

Social Security Disability Payments Start Date

The following scenario and questions was left as a comment on a separate post by TLD. The comment is reposted here, along with a response.

"I have been diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia and have a 6 inch thick Notebook of all Medical Records as well as Personal Records of Doctor visits, Meds, history of pain. I have applied for Social Security Disability soon after I lost my job of 25 years (which was eliminated after being off on Short Term Disability) the end of October, 2009. I made a copy of my complete file and hand delivered to the Social Security Office after I completed the online Application which I did very vaguely as I could not put all my medical info online. On Nov 23, 2009, I called for a status and found that it was being reviewed by a Medical examiner. I wasn't prepared for what was about to happen. At first, the Examiner was cold and started asking me many questions about my daily activities of what I could and could not do. And what I do all day long. I had a bad night and was in a lot of pain so again I wasn't prepared so I answered the questions but I felt that this wasn't going very well. I continued to ask her if she rec'd my Medical packet and she at first she couldn't find it, but later she found my very large thick packet of Medical Reports. After being on the phone for over an hour and half, she then began to inform me that she was very aware of my condition of Trigeminal Neuraglia and knows that it is the most excruciating pain a person can go through. She said that she understands the pain that I am in. I began to cry and said that it is difficult because not many people know about this and that it is severe pain. I think she started to cry too and she began to tell me about a personal neurosurgeon experience she had and the pain associated with that. I know Trigeminal Neuralgia is not well known but she said that she knows about it. I believe after she saw my records, the mood changed. She was very understanding and said that the only thing I need to do is to go to a Psychologist as I have not seen one for the depression from pain. She said that she would set that up for me and that is all that I needed to do. She said that she didn't need to wait for Doctor reports as I have provided almost all the reports needed. So what I am wondering is, what does this mean as far as my case? Is this a positive sign that my case will be approved? Or am I reading too much into it? I was diagnosed in Aug, 2007 (pain records started Sept, 2006 though) but continued to work until Oct, 2009, when would they consider my start date of disability for payments?"

Dear TLD,

Unfortunately, the conversation with your disability examiner may or may not mean anything as far as the final outcome of your disability claim. However, it seems that the examiner could relate to some of your experience and that may help. Most disability examiners are just part of an adjudicating team that might include the disability examiner, case consultant, and unit medical professionals. This means that others who did not have this meaningful conversation with you about your condition may have a hand it deciding your disability claim.

Of course, it is never a negative if you have a positive conversation with the person handling your disability claim. I guess what I am saying is that you should not read "too" much into your conversation at this point.

Social Security disability is based upon residual functional capacity rather than specific impairments or even the pain someone was experiencing while they worked. The start date of any person's disability for the purposes of Social Security disability is when they became unable to perform substantial gainful work activity. If you were earning over the substantial gainful activity monthly amount and were not receiving any kind of special subsidy from your employer (meaning they let you stay employed with them at your regular salary even though your work was not worth what your were paid or they gave you special considerations like extra breaks, time off, etc.) then your disability start date would be sometime in October of 2009.

Also, you stated that you filed your disability application online and were vague with the answers. It is really a good thing the disability examiner located your medical records because if the examiner had not they might be making your decision based upon the vague information provided in your online disability application.

If you find yourself in the position of filing disability appeal online, you should complete it just as you would a written appeal. You should be very thorough and complete the appeal disability report to the best of your ability and send in any additional new medical records.

I hope that your disability claim is successful, but do not be discouraged if your claim is denied. Disability approvals depend on so many factors that about sixty five percent to seventy percent (statistics vary by state and national averages fluctuate a bit) are denied at the initial disability claim level nationally.

However of those denied at the initial level, about 15 percent will be approved at the reconsideration appeal level. Additionally, the majority of all disability applicants who file request for hearing appeals are approved for disability and the percentage likelihood of winning at the hearing level rises for those who have representation.

Make sure you attend your psychological consultative examination. If you are not approved for disability, certainly follow the disability appeal process. Best of luck with your disability claim.

Additional information on Social Security Disability at

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Tips for Filling out a Social Security Disability Application
Should you File Your SSDI Disability Appeal Online?
SSDI and working -- or not working
Do I Have To Quit My Job To Get Disability?
Social Security Disability Income - SSDI
Has Anyone Ever Won Their Social Security Disability Benefits While They Had A Job?
Review of my SSDI Case
Social security disability application
Social Security Disability, End Stage Renal Disease, and Going Back to Work
Social Security Disability SSI and Residual Functional Capacity



Blogger J P said...

How about this? When one is approved for Disability over 2 months ago and calls SS to check in then is told they are "waiting for employment records" what exactly does that mean and how long can/does that take?

I have received zero benefits because they are "waiting to hear back" (via fax/snail mail) from past/previous employers.
(To get salary info from when/where I worked in the past perhaps as long as 5 or 10 years ago.)

The Lady at SS on the phone was short-tempered, and told me she had no idea when she would hear back from employers and that I could try and get ahold of them (Yea, doubtful...)

1:47 AM  
Blogger Disability Blogger said...

Hi JP, I addressed your situation here:
Social Security Disability, Waiting for Employment Records

5:53 PM  
Blogger tld said...

Update to original post: I have my Psychologist visit the second week of January. I called the Disability Examiner to confirm that I will attend the Psychologist appt. I asked if there is anything else that they are waiting for to make a decision other than the Psychologist report and she said that is all they are waiting for and need. How long will it take for a decision on determination after this? Also, have you seen or heard of claims for Trigeminal Neuraglia? If so, were they approved? Thanks

5:36 AM  
Blogger Disability Blogger said...

Hi Tld, to be honest I don't recall ever seeing a case for trigeminal neuralgia when I worked as an examiner. I'm sure one of my fellow examiners (there were over 500 of us in my particular disability determination services agency) did at one point or another. Remember, though, that SSA really looks at functional limitations that are caused by conditions, not so much the condition itself. The rest of your questions I addressed here: How Long will it Take for the Social Security Disability Determination After Seeing the Psychologist?

10:33 AM  

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