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Social Security Disability work definition
Old 04-18-2009, 07:50 AM   #1
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Social Security Disability work definition

How is "other work" defined by Social Security. Can they really expect a former VP of widgets to go work at McDonalds because they can stand up and say, "Do you want f-f-f-fries with that?" Or do they do it similar to unemployment where "other work" is work at a similar level?
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Old 04-18-2009, 08:26 AM   #2
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They do not look at similar work at all. If you can do "light work" like sit on your rear and assemble widgets, you aren't disabled.

That is why disability insurance is a good thing. You can cover for that kind of stuff.
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:24 AM   #3
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My internist once told me that a SS disabilty lawyer said to him "He can sit on a stool and collect tolls, can't he?"

I'm on private disabilty from my job and SS disabilty. The SS disability is because, through diabetes-induced "vascular dementia," I lost a substantial amount of brain function, in particular, short term memory. They had a clinical term for the amount that had to be lost to be significant but I can't recall it. No, really.

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Old 04-18-2009, 11:46 AM   #4
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I am now receiving SSD benefits. I worked in the telcom field for 36 years, and mentally, I can climb Mt. Everest. Yet, I must face the fact that physically, I have restrictions related to various job functions. Could I do other jobs? Yes, with a lot of restrictions! In today's environment, with 11% unemployment (here in California) the job market for anyone in my situation is very bleak!
I do know of several non-profit corporations that employe the mentally challenged, and might need volunteers to help. Could one who is themselves disabled be prevented from assisting on a part-time basis and still qualify for SSD?
I now a chance to do some light volunteer work. As an animal lover, I want to get involved in animal rescue services, where my physical restrictions aren't a factor.
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Old 04-18-2009, 01:32 PM   #5
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lets-retire, Martha and MikeD -



Social Security considers:
    • What your medical condition is;
    • When your medical condition began;
    • How your medical condition limits your activities;
    • What the medical tests have shown; and
    • What treatment you have received.
    • They also will ask the doctors for information about your ability to do work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, lifting, carrying and remembering instructions. Your doctors are not asked to decide if you are disabled.
Regarding that last bullet:
  1. Can you do the work you did before?
    At this step, the state agency decides if your medical condition prevents you from being able to do the work you did before. If it does not, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled. If it does, the state agency goes on to step five.
  2. Can you do any other type of work?
    If you cannot do the work you did in the past, the state agency looks to see if you would be able to do other work. It evaluates your medical condition, your age, education, past work experience and any skills you may have that could be used to do other work. If you cannot do other work, the state agency will decide that you are disabled. If you can do other work, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled
The above is taken from the SSA website.
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Old 04-18-2009, 01:44 PM   #6
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KennyM - Also from the SSA website:
After you start receiving disability benefits, you may want to try working again. There are special rules that help you keep your cash benefits and Medicare while you test your ability to work.

The pamphlet 'Working While Disabled' is very good and can be read on the ssa.gov website.
Volunteer work does not effect your SSD. However, someone who is doing volunteer work may be reported to SSA as a person who is fraudulently collecting SSD. That can trigger a contact from SSA asking about your work and medical condition and a continuing disability medical review earlier than normal.
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Old 04-18-2009, 02:03 PM   #7
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lets-retire, Martha and MikeD -



Social Security considers:
    • What your medical condition is;
    • When your medical condition began;
    • How your medical condition limits your activities;
    • What the medical tests have shown; and
    • What treatment you have received.
    • They also will ask the doctors for information about your ability to do work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, lifting, carrying and remembering instructions. Your doctors are not asked to decide if you are disabled.
Regarding that last bullet:
  1. Can you do the work you did before?
    At this step, the state agency decides if your medical condition prevents you from being able to do the work you did before. If it does not, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled. If it does, the state agency goes on to step five.
  2. Can you do any other type of work?
    If you cannot do the work you did in the past, the state agency looks to see if you would be able to do other work. It evaluates your medical condition, your age, education, past work experience and any skills you may have that could be used to do other work. If you cannot do other work, the state agency will decide that you are disabled. If you can do other work, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled
The above is taken from the SSA website.
Good information, but step one is rather meaningless.
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Old 04-18-2009, 04:09 PM   #8
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Thanks to all who posted. I've done a ton of research on the topic. As it is, the DW is having issues with a diminished ability to use/read the English language. Since that is the only language she knows it does present issues. Neither she nor I feel she is disabled, but she has noticed numerous instances where she made serious errors at work with regards to contracts and other paperwork (I'm not going into details so don't hit me up for them) due to her diminished abilities. Her doctor referred her for more tests. If they show a more decreased ability than the last time she took the evaluations, the doctor said she would be labeled disabled, and would not be able to continue in her present career path on the doctor's orders. I was interested, because it seemed rather harsh to force someone who had an outstanding career to sit at the entrance to Walmart and say "Welcome, to Walmart" all day, because that is all they can do. I think I'd last a week then I'd be in the ground. Good thing we don't need her income.

It seemed a bit irritating when the doctor stated she would not allow the DW to continue in her employment, if the results were bad because the doctor didn't want to be sued. Well dam if she doesn't take the tests the DW is opened to being sued for screwing something up. At least after the tests the liability lays on someone else, I have enough liability issues with my job.
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Old 04-18-2009, 04:29 PM   #9
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I am now receiving SSD benefits. I worked in the telcom field for 36 years, and mentally, I can climb Mt. Everest. Yet, I must face the fact that physically, I have restrictions related to various job functions. Could I do other jobs? Yes, with a lot of restrictions! In today's environment, with 11% unemployment (here in California) the job market for anyone in my situation is very bleak!
I do know of several non-profit corporations that employe the mentally challenged, and might need volunteers to help. Could one who is themselves disabled be prevented from assisting on a part-time basis and still qualify for SSD?
I now a chance to do some light volunteer work. As an animal lover, I want to get involved in animal rescue services, where my physical restrictions aren't a factor.
I'd be very careful in taking on light volunteer work; as I recall, SS disability determinations do get re-evaluated every three years unless you have a totally disabling medical condition (e.g.,loss of limbs); a key factor in determining your entitlement to benefits is whether you have a disabling medical impairment that essentially prevents you from being gainfully employed which means doing "light work" ("would that be with french fries?") or "sedentary work" ("would you like a receipt for your toll?"). It's possible that the light volunteer work might undercut your continued entitlement to benefits. I'd check with someone in the local Social Security Office to make sure the light volunteer work would not jeopardize your receipt of benefits. It shouldn't, if the light volunteer work is really very light and sporadic.
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Old 04-18-2009, 07:33 PM   #10
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I'd be very careful in taking on light volunteer work; as I recall, SS disability determinations do get re-evaluated every three years unless you have a totally disabling medical condition (e.g.,loss of limbs); a key factor in determining your entitlement to benefits is whether you have a disabling medical impairment that essentially prevents you from being gainfully employed which means doing "light work" ("would that be with french fries?") or "sedentary work" ("would you like a receipt for your toll?"). It's possible that the light volunteer work might undercut your continued entitlement to benefits. I'd check with someone in the local Social Security Office to make sure the light volunteer work would not jeopardize your receipt of benefits. It shouldn't, if the light volunteer work is really very light and sporadic.
I remember it was a year-ago this month I was in the hospital with a tube down my throat, tubes in my arm feeding me and the second hand on the clock going tick-tick-tick! That was the longest four weeks , and I'll never forget them! I recall my doctors telling I can't do this and I can't do that anymore, but they never said I couldn't smile. Physical labor as it related to my job is over. I will never be able to do the things I used to, but I don't want to sit around and feel sorry. There are so many people worst off than me. I feel that there are so many things that I can do, it's just picking one and going out doing it. So many homes lost to foreclosure, household pets given to animal rescues. I'd like to find one locally, spend a few hours a day, and try not to attached to them! There are limitations as to what I'll be able to do though.
When I applied for Social Security Disability, my case was approved on the first application. I never faced any problems.
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Old 04-18-2009, 10:05 PM   #11
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If they show a more decreased ability than the last time she took the evaluations, the doctor said she would be labeled disabled, and would not be able to continue in her present career path on the doctor's orders. . . . It seemed a bit irritating when the doctor stated she would not allow the DW to continue in her employment, if the results were bad because the doctor didn't want to be sued.
Is this some kind of company doctor? How would a doctor "not allow her to continue in her employment" . . .? I don't think I would have guessed that a private physician would get involved in a private employment matter, especially if we weren't talking about a critical safety-related job

If the doc notices that his patient Jim, an airline pilot, is legally blind, I suppose he might have an obligation to tell someone. But if he notices that his patient Bill, a legal assistant, is having trouble remembering names, I don't think he's obligated to tell Bill's employer. In fact, I'd expect Bill to sue him if he violated his confidentiality in this way.

But I'm not a lawyer or a doctor.
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Old 04-19-2009, 01:57 AM   #12
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I don't have any inside tips as to what the Social Security Administration looks for when the review your medical records. If they reject your application, you might hire and attorney and file an appeal. You might be required to provide additional information, I just don't know. My application went thru without any problems. I did have an attorney assist me, but only because she has handled our legal issues for years. As to the future for my prospects of employment, probably slim to none. There would be too many restrictions that employers would find unacceptable. But, I still am of the opinion, that as a volunteer, there are always small things one can do. If a person is "deemed" to be disabled, does that prevent him/her from getting involved in some small way, or are we expected to just go sit in the corner and be quiet? One may not have teaching credentials, yet might be be welcomed in helping to tutor in after-school programs. Big brother or big sister programs are another thought. This is a new experience for me, I'll gain more insight in the years to come! I've never been disabled before! But, mentally, I can do anything a kid half my age can do, physically, well that is a completely different story
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Old 04-19-2009, 06:08 AM   #13
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Is this some kind of company doctor? How would a doctor "not allow her to continue in her employment" . . .? I don't think I would have guessed that a private physician would get involved in a private employment matter, especially if we weren't talking about a critical safety-related job

If the doc notices that his patient Jim, an airline pilot, is legally blind, I suppose he might have an obligation to tell someone. But if he notices that his patient Bill, a legal assistant, is having trouble remembering names, I don't think he's obligated to tell Bill's employer. In fact, I'd expect Bill to sue him if he violated his confidentiality in this way.

But I'm not a lawyer or a doctor.
Since the wife deals with contracts and other legal documents, if the upcoming tests show that she has a diminished ability to understand/use the English language and she has shown in the past a higher probability for errors caused by the diminished ability, the doctor said she could be held legally liable if she did not tell the wife not to work. I guess legally the doctor couldn't stop the DW from working, but if she didn't advise her to stop, then she could be held liable for any damages to the company. The DW is also out often for other physical ailments and receives FMLA. The FMLA paperwork has to filled out every time. There is a section on the paperwork where the doctor has to fill out any other diagnosis. That is how the company would discover the diminished ability.

Neither the doctor nor me are civil lawyers, but I would have to defer to the doctors assessment of her legal liability. It would seem, to me, that if the doctor's only recourse to relieve herself of liability was to advise the DW not to work but she continued to work in violation of that advice, the DW would then be liable for any losses stemming from her errors. Of course the boss wouldn't find out about it until a few weeks later when the DW goes out again.
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Old 04-19-2009, 07:59 AM   #14
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Having her doctor find her disabled will help in finding her disabled by the SSA. Much luck and best wishes to you both. I would argue the diminished ability to understand language carries over to most any job.
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Old 04-19-2009, 08:35 AM   #15
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Having her doctor find her disabled will help in finding her disabled by the SSA. Much luck and best wishes to you both. I would argue the diminished ability to understand language carries over to most any job.
Thanks for the information and the well wishes. Hopefully everything turns out fine. Either way I just found out about most of the problems in her work and think she really needs to stop and do something else. I just have to convince her. She has a tendency to downplay her issues and try to press on. Heck one of her legs was temporarily paralyzed as a result of a seizure, but she still tried to hobble around and go to work. The doctor put her in the hospital for three days on that one.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:54 AM   #16
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Lets-retire may be expressing himself and I'm not hearing what he's saying. I'm reading the story with a "physical" condition in mind that a medical doctor might describe conditions as they relate to working related issues. It might be a situation where a psychologist might be able to address the issue with more insight to the Social Security employee that has to review the case. Again, I don't have any inside information, but if the DW is unable to meet the requirements her employer expects, or requires, her application should express that. It might be a situation where the DW is saying one thing and the SSD review is seeing something else. Just a thought.
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Old 04-19-2009, 12:45 PM   #17
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Lets-retire, you should consult with a good SS disability lawyer. It's not clear from your postings the exact medical condition that has been diagnosed by her doctor. Some medical conditions are totally disabling standing alone (being blind or deaf, where employers are not expected to bring a signer or reader for you on the job); many other conditions, are disabling in the sense that people cannot be expected to perform work with the conditions afflicting them. In many cases, these other conditions require the assessment of a "vocational expert" to determine whether the condition precludes gainful employment (e.g. whether the person can sit, stand for periods of time, lift things, or understand things such that she can operate as a toll booth operator).

A short-term memory loss condition resulting from some cognitive medical problem can truly be disabling -- it would certainly impair working as a paralegal, lawyer, contracts specialist, insurance claims adjuster, etc. And in connection with some other physical impairment, it might well preclude any sedentary work. But just because you get a medical diagnosis of some medical condition that might result in your wife's inability to perform her current job (along with that doctor's risk aversion to any potential liability he might have if he didn't suggest she stop working) -- doesn't really mean she can't perform work in the context of a social security disability determination.
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Old 04-19-2009, 04:41 PM   #18
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Chris--You are correct. That is why I was asking about the SSA's definition of work. The wife can most likely work as a greeter at Walmart as long as they let he sit. I seriously doubt she would be willing to do that work, unless she had no choice. Talk about making someone feel worthless.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:44 PM   #19
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Lets-retire, I found a web-site, "disabilitysecrets.com that I found pretty helpful.
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Old 04-20-2009, 06:09 AM   #20
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Thanks, I'll check it out.
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