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Unread 04-23-2010, 06:28 AM   #1
LIT LOVE
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Arrow Catch 22- Tips & Helpful info

You're too ill to work, but the SSDI process takes so long for approval how can you survive while waiting?

The SAD truth is after personal resources run out, the disabled often become financially dependent on their family, or worse yet, they end up homeless. I've met both varieties over the years.

I can't tell you how many healthy people have told me they couldn't stop working if they became disabled--as if it's a choice--as if they could somehow tough it out, so to speak. Are there people who are approved for SSDI who can work? YES. Are there people who can't work, even PT, that are denied for SSDI. YUP!

Is the difference an evil judge? A bad attorney? A crazy vocational expert? It can feel that way at times. In hindsight, I substantially lengthed the approval process by not doing adequate research my first go around when I was being represented by an attorney. My best advice is to hire the best attorney you can find, but be prepared as if you were representing yourself. Know what is in your file! (I brought a friend who did all the copying for me.) At the ALJ hearing level you do not want to be blindsided by documents from experts you've never met. Read. Research. Repeat.

ASSUME the SSDI approval process will take years! Utilize any other resources available in your area.

Is there a waiting list for housing assitance in your area? The list might seem absurdly long, but it might happen faster than a Fully Favorable SSDI decision. Some housing programs will even bump you to the top if you're disabled.

I made a rather costly blunder of not filing an application for state disibility after I was injured since it was a Worker's Comp claim. There was a window of more than a year when I had zero income and wished I had known to preserve those state benefits.

Check to see if your community has a transportation program for the disabled. An aquaintance I knew was getting rent money from her church while using child support for SUV payments, it still was repo'd, just many months and several thousand dollars later. Argh. Once the car was gone she was less stressed and as it turned out, her doc had her license yanked anyway.

The YMCA has warm water classes that amount to physical therapy which are free or low cost for households with low incomes.

If you're too ill to be proactive regarding your local resources ask a friend and/or family to help. And, I'm sure others on the board have better suggestions than I, so please add your two cents!
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Unread 04-23-2010, 07:49 AM   #2
plgerrard
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Default Rental Assistance

Good info LIT LOVE. Here is my two cents

Quote:
Is there a waiting list for housing assitance in your area? The list might seem absurdly long, but it might happen faster than a Fully Favorable SSDI decision. Some housing programs will even bump you to the top if you're disabled.
I can shed some light on rental assistance, as that was my expertise for 25+ years. Rental assistance is available from two sources: Privately-owned Subsidized Housing and Public Housing Authorities. The Public Housing Authorities have 2 programs: 1) Public Housing is renting at a physical property owned by the local housing authority. 2) The Housing Choice Voucher program allows you to choose where you live (with some restrictions), and the housing authority will pay the landlord the rent above ‘Tenant Rent’.

‘Tenant Rent’ is the portion you will pay based on your income. Calculation of rent is generally the same at both Privately-owned housing and Public Housing Authorities: 30% of your ‘Adjusted Income’, less an allowance for average utility costs. So, if you have no income, you would pay no rent. If you do have income, and have a verified disability, the cost of medical treatment will be deducted from your actual income to arrive at the ‘Adjusted Income’. Many times your disability cannot be verified until your SSI/SSDI is approved. So, you would not be able to claim medical bills until then.

The preference for elderly/disabled was once mandatory for both programs. In the late nineties, the federally mandated preference was revoked, and replaced by an Optional preference. In my experience, only Public Housing Authorities still apply the Optional preference for elderly/disabled. The reason is that the Public Housing Authorities have only 2 programs with only 1 definition of disability.

There are 18 different programs for Privately-owned Subsidized Housing, and six different definitions of disability. The definition of disability that is applied depends on the program the property is operating under. Many times more than one program can exist at a given property, making the application of a disability preference difficult.

The size of apartment you will qualify for depends on your family size. You will find that most Privately-owned and Public Housing have adopted the HUD occupancy recommendations of: Minimum one person per bedroom, and maximum two people per bedroom. So, a single person would only qualify for a one bedroom, where a family of 4 could qualify for a 2, 3 or 4 bedroom.

HUD has a website with a great search engine for both Privately-owned and Public Housing.

http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/po...tal_assistance

At the same page is a link for Housing Counseling Agencies. If you are not interested in subsidized rentals, the Housing Counseling Agencies would be the place to start, as they can provide help and advice with your current housing situation.

If you are interested in a subsidized rental, here is what you can anticipate for average wait times. This, of course, will vary depending on where you live.
  • Public Housing (physical property): 2-3 months
  • Privately-owned: 2-4 bedroom: 3-6 months
  • Privately-owned: 1 bedroom: 9-12 months
  • Privately-owned restricted to elderly/disabled: 12-15 months
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program: 1-2 years
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Unread 04-24-2010, 05:28 AM   #3
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Hi LL,

What a great idea for a topic !

It would be great to get this stickied at the top of this forum for easy access for newbies. The devastating financial strain that so many disabled people face while waiting for a decision on SSDI is a huge concern for so many of us.
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Unread 04-26-2010, 06:21 PM   #4
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Default Catch 22- Tips & Helpful info

I just finsihed an article on the Adult Function Report Becaise there seems to be a lot of questions about it. If anyone has the time to read it and give me feedback I would be very very grateful. I take criticism well so be honest. Thank you, Trudi

Function Report – How to Complete It

If you after you applied for SSDI and received an Adult Function Report it’s good news, it means your application is under active consideration. If you are just now applying for SSDI it’s best to complete the Adult Function Report and submit it with you application. **
There’s no getting around the fact that it’s a long form with three sections, a total of 21 main questions and 50 sub questions. But, taken a step at a time it’s not as overwhelming as it appears.
SSDI’s purpose for having you complete this form is to compare your daily activities with typical mental and physical job activities. They are looking for consistency between your application and the Adult Function Report to determine if your responses are consistent with your disability. The reality is that they are trying to justify that you can do other work and deny your benefits.
Your goal is to prove that the limitations caused by your disabilities are severe enough to significantly impact activities of your daily life. Always be honest but use the worst day scenario to explain your limitation. Give the SSDI sufficient evidence to ensure they understand your inability to function normally.

General Rules for Answering Questions.

1. Follow the instructions on the front page of the application. Do not leave and field blank, if a question does not apply to you write NA and strike a line through it. If you have already answered a question write “See Question X”.
2. Many times your answers are too lengthy to be answered in the space provided. Write your response on a separate piece of paper with the Question being answered at the top of the page and write in the question’s field “See attachment Question X”
3. Answering the question in depth with as much detail as you can manage is the best approach to this form. Your goal is to paint a picture for the case examiner how horrific your daily life can be.
4. Always be honest but use the worst case scenario when answering the question.
5. It is critical you describe what you cannot do, detail how you are dysfunctional, how your illness limits your ability to function.
6. When describing a symptom use the three characteristics: frequency (how often does it happen), duration (how long does it last) and severity (how bad is it).
7. Use descriptive (adjectives and adverbs) language when writing about your functional limitations.
8. Give related answers even if they don’t specifically relate to the question.
9. Keep in mind to compare your life before your illness with what you’re capable of doing now.
10. And don’t worry about repeating yourself.

Psychological Perspective

Our behaviors are initiated by our psychological perspectives. With a disability almost everyone is affected by psychological disturbance. Some of them include: disorientation to time and place, memory impairment, perceptual or thinking disturbances, change in personality, disturbance in mood, emotional labiality and impaired impulse control and loss of intellectual ability. Mood disturbances include loss of interest in almost all activities, appetite disturbances, increased feeling of guilt, thoughts of suicide and easy distractibility.
Another aspect of the psychological perspective is cognitive impairments which refers to mental processes of perception, memory, judgment and reasoning. It relates to the interaction of the brain and functioning problems such as calculation difficulties, special disorientation, transposition of words, memory disturbances, decision making, confusion, short and long term memory loss and difficulty reading and writing.
Consider each of the disturbances or changes to your psychological perspective and write examples of how they affect you so your can incorporate them in your answers. Using these concepts in your responses corresponds with the SSDI ‘mindset’. They readily understand these symptoms. The use of these concepts enhances your responses.

Critical Questions

Question 6
Question #6,” Describe what you do from the time you wake up until going to bed.” Is an intimidating question and should be the last question answered. The remaining questions on the form will give you a lot of information to use to answer what you do all day. When you do respond to the question consider physical and mental aspects of your life.
Begin with sleeping habits and disturbances and how you feel (emotional & physically) when you get up. Daily patterns vary so don’t hesitate to say “Some days I…and other days I….” Characterize the activities you can’ do comparing them with what you used to be able to. Typical days include eating which can include a wide variety of reaction from lack of appetite, to binging to lacking energy to prepare meals. Consider how you fill your time; do you watch TV because you have no motivation for anything else? Do you read but constantly have to reread passages because you lack focus? Do you start projects and not finish them? Do you just sit and stare at the walls? How has your social life changed due to your illness? It’s okay to go off on tangents. Don’t forget the use of medication and the reactions you may have to it.
You may want to make a list of things you want to describe before you begin answering the question. Do not worry about repeating yourself. The answer to this question should be long enough to require a separate page or attachment

Question 10

Question #10 “What were you able to do before your illness, injuries or conditions that you can’t do now?” is another critical question. Unbelievably, the form gives you a single line to respond to this question, so obviously because of the serious and complicated nature of your answer you’ll need to submit an attachment.
Before you start to respond to the question take a separate piece of paper and make notes so that your answer is more coherent. The two basic categories of changes are physical and mental. Whichever type of disability you have, your functionality is impaired in both categories and related to one another. This is not a work related question but rather a question about daily activities. Here are some suggestions to get you started
Can you maintain a regular schedule or is your day dictated by your limitations?
What are your physical limitations and how do they effect you, what were like before your disability?
What are your mental limitations and how do they affect you and what were you like before your disability?
What aspects of your disability bother you the most?

Question #20

Question #20 has 12 sub questions, (a) though (l). The more important questions have explanations and the less critical questions are listed.
Question 20 “(a) Check any of the following items that your illnesses, injuries or conditions affect: [there is a list of 19 physical and mental items] Please explain how your illnesses, injuries or conditions affect each of the items you’ve checked.”
A person with a severe disability will have checked off numerous items and the space provided on the form is insufficient to write a detail answer. Besides the physical items like bending, standing and sitting there are several important cognitive functioning items like memory, completing tasks, concentration, understanding (verbal instructions of concepts), following instructions [verbal or written] and getting along with others. You can readily see how these items are directly related to work activities but you need to describe incidents of how these items affect you daily life.
As an example with my cognitive dysfunction I get easily confused when I’m driving a car and can’t understand the easiest of verbal instructions so I have them written down and still have difficulty arriving at my destination. (This one example shows impairments to memory, understanding and following instructions.) Before I was disabled I was an easy going person rarely showing anger, since my disability I frequently fly off the handle at a check out clerk for checking to slow or a complete stranger who parks too close to my car.
It’s important to think through your experiences to find examples of how your disability limits your ability to function in the items the SSDI mentions.
Other questions include:
(d) For how long can you pay attention?
(e) Do you finish what you start?
(f) How well do you follow written instructions?
(g) How well do you follow spoken instructions?
These questions deal with your ability to focus which is part of the cognitive function of the brain. The root cause can be many factors including anxiety, depression, fearful, anger, and self-esteem. Regardless of the root case, it manifests in the inability to adequately function in one or all of questions d through g. Other cognitive function causing the inability to focus include self-restraint, working memory, emotional control, task initiation, planning and prioritizing, organization, time management, defining and achieving goals..
(h) How well do you get along with authority figures?
(i) Have you ever been fired or laid off from a job because of problems getting along with other people?
*(j) How well do you handle stress?
*(k) How well do you handle changes in routine?
(l) Have you notice any unusual behaviors or fears?
The * next to questions j and k signifies these are important questions. Most people get denied because SSDI determine they are able to do other work or they can do past work. The inability to handle stress or handles changes in routine eliminates you from doing sedentary (other) work. Always be honest but describe as many examples of your inability to handle stress, (getting easily frustrated or angry) and your attitudes towards changes in your daily schedule or environment.
Conclusion
Despite the length of the report, it is important to write detailed answers using descriptive language and objective measurements when possible. Be honest, but use your worst days as examples.
Keep in mind that SSDI is not your friend or advocate. There is a culture of denial that exists within SSDI and they are looking for reasons to deny you benefits. Describe to the best of your ability the limitations to your daily activities.
Make a copy before you mail it to SSDI. I wish you the best of luck.
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Respectfully,
Trudi
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Unread 05-06-2010, 12:41 AM   #5
legalmania
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plgerrard View Post
Good info LIT LOVE. Here is my two cents



I can shed some light on rental assistance, as that was my expertise for 25+ years. Rental assistance is available from two sources: Privately-owned Subsidized Housing and Public Housing Authorities. The Public Housing Authorities have 2 programs: 1) Public Housing is renting at a physical property owned by the local housing authority. 2) The Housing Choice Voucher program allows you to choose where you live (with some restrictions), and the housing authority will pay the landlord the rent above ‘Tenant Rent’.

‘Tenant Rent’ is the portion you will pay based on your income. Calculation of rent is generally the same at both Privately-owned housing and Public Housing Authorities: 30% of your ‘Adjusted Income’, less an allowance for average utility costs. So, if you have no income, you would pay no rent. If you do have income, and have a verified disability, the cost of medical treatment will be deducted from your actual income to arrive at the ‘Adjusted Income’. Many times your disability cannot be verified until your SSI/SSDI is approved. So, you would not be able to claim medical bills until then.

The preference for elderly/disabled was once mandatory for both programs. In the late nineties, the federally mandated preference was revoked, and replaced by an Optional preference. In my experience, only Public Housing Authorities still apply the Optional preference for elderly/disabled. The reason is that the Public Housing Authorities have only 2 programs with only 1 definition of disability.

There are 18 different programs for Privately-owned Subsidized Housing, and six different definitions of disability. The definition of disability that is applied depends on the program the property is operating under. Many times more than one program can exist at a given property, making the application of a disability preference difficult.

The size of apartment you will qualify for depends on your family size. You will find that most Privately-owned and Public Housing have adopted the HUD occupancy recommendations of: Minimum one person per bedroom, and maximum two people per bedroom. So, a single person would only qualify for a one bedroom, where a family of 4 could qualify for a 2, 3 or 4 bedroom.

HUD has a website with a great search engine for both Privately-owned and Public Housing.

http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/po...tal_assistance

At the same page is a link for Housing Counseling Agencies. If you are not interested in subsidized rentals, the Housing Counseling Agencies would be the place to start, as they can provide help and advice with your current housing situation.

If you are interested in a subsidized rental, here is what you can anticipate for average wait times. This, of course, will vary depending on where you live.
  • Public Housing (physical property): 2-3 months
  • Privately-owned: 2-4 bedroom: 3-6 months
  • Privately-owned: 1 bedroom: 9-12 months
  • Privately-owned restricted to elderly/disabled: 12-15 months
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program: 1-2 years
Not every state offers these programs. I know in South Florida you chances of getting into a hud housing is minimal. If you do qualify the neighborhoods are not very inviting.
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Unread 05-06-2010, 04:17 AM   #6
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These are Federal, not State programs. If you check the link I provided, you will see there is assisted housing available in every state, including Puerto Rico.

I did indicate the average wait times varied by location. They are national averages - meaning some areas will be less, others higher.

It is true that subsidized housing stock is generally located in the poorer neighborhoods. However, most people on a limited income can't afford to live in the more affluent neighborhoods anyway. This gives them an option for rental assistance.
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Last edited by plgerrard; 05-06-2010 at 08:10 AM.
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Unread 05-11-2010, 11:59 PM   #7
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Florida has section 8 housing. Here is a link http://www.gosection8.com/section_8_...g_rentals.aspx
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Unread 05-12-2010, 05:39 PM   #8
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With Section 8 there are times when cities within the same county have substantially different waiting periods. City A has a two year waiting period, City B has openings. Or dozens of other complexities that I've heard about in passing, but which I'm no expert on, which is why I so appreciate the advice of those that are.

Just because it is difficult for many to be approved for SSI/SSDI, should everyone dismiss the program? I'm thinking that would be a no. Section 8 is not going to be a quick fix for everyone, or maybe anyone, but it is an important resource for many that are disabled.

Someone I knew, who was a PITA, jumped the 1-2 year waiting line for Section 8 housing in a city near me. She was already in a local housing program for single mothers, so she was not in a homeless situation. Her new home was in a very safe area of town and was very nice.

There are always ways to get the seemingly impossible done.

A call to your local United Way is a good idea, since they will often be familiar with local housing programs. In my area there are several, all with there own requirements.

Also, consider the possibilty of moving. Maybe the next city over, maybe the next county, half way across the state, to a different state, or across the country. Only you can make the decision, weigh your options. Just realize, there are resources available in different locations that might work for you.

Last edited by LIT LOVE; 05-13-2010 at 05:56 AM. Reason: Error, I wrote the Red Cross instead of the United Way, whoops!
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Unread 05-13-2010, 05:54 AM   #9
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From the following link choose your state,

http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD/states

then view what resources are available.
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Unread 05-13-2010, 06:21 AM   #10
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This link will get you your local United Way info:

http://www.liveunited.org/myuw/?


And if you don't have prescription drug coverage United Ways across the country offer free prescription discount cards which can save you up to 30%:

http://www.familywize.com/agencies.aspx

It also allows you to lookup drug prices online. One of my medications costs $900 per month, using this service the quote was $575.

http://pl.envisionrx.com/pdladju.asp...pid=FAMILYWIZE
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