SSDI application: phone calls

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I read on https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/how-to-avoid-scary-phone-calls/ that it is probably better if I avoid phone conversations with SSA.

A person from Disability Determination Services asked my husband to speak with me to "confirm information in my medical history", but I am wary that I will be asked many more questions that I am probably not equipped to answer on the fly. Should I stick to requesting all communications in writing?

For one thing, the last time I was 20 mins on the phone with the local SSA representative to confirm the details I provided in the online application, it took a lot out of me whilst I was already in a PEM crash. I am concerned that a long call being grilled, so to speak, will cause me to overexert and precipitate a crash. I probably should not be on here since posting tires me...

Secondly, the questions she hinted at asking me would have been addressed in the detailed Remarks I submitted in the online application and in the medical records and supporting evidence/letters of support from my doctors. So, it sounds fishy to me...I feel it is a ploy so that they could eventually ask me tricky Activities of Daily Living questions. I think mire clearly when I write, so talking on phone will place me at disadvantage. She made it seem that it is a bad thing that I could not talk on the phone.

I am not sure if it is a preliminary record gatherer or the actual disability examiner. She is in neighboring state.

What should I do? Am I being paranoid? The stress of having to go through another application and having to be on guard is starting to affect me.

I haven't had the energy to summarize my medical history yet and my hubby who could have assisted, has been overwhelmed with being primary caregiver, breadwinner and parent. This effort of applying will cost me. And yes, I am probably inflicting unnecessary pain since I don't want to hire an SSDI lawyer (yet).
 

Judee

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I would see about hiring a lawyer or rep for your questions now. They might be able to help you avoid things that would be flagged later on.

I think it can be good to be a bit paranoid. One rep online said they really only just use those forms to find a way to turn you down. He was pretty cynical about the process.

I remember Jonathan Ginsburg on YT has one video about what not to put on them.

I would say hire someone before you fill out anything more as there will be a lot more forms to fill out unfortunately.
 
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@Judee and @Alvin2 , my understanding is that SSDI lawyers will get paid from a percentage of backpay. Is it true they don't get a portion of future pay in perpetuity? What percentages are typical to be taken from backpay: 20 or 25%?

I am also waiting to clarify with my group benefits insurer how much is offset from my LTD pay. I want to know up front how much hiring an ssdi lawyer will affect my LTD pay.

This is too much work for someine already struggling with chronic illness and so, I am tempted to hire a lawyer.
 

Judee

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I do think it is 25% of the back pay is the most they can charge. (I tried to find that on SSA.gov to confirm but for some reason, I'm coming up empty on my searching right now.)

Also there was a very helpful website similar to reddit where people talked back and forth about SSDI and LTD and lawyer fees and whatnot and I cannot find it either. I'm wracking my brain but cannot remember the name of that site. If I do I'll try to come back and post.
 

Alvin2

The good news is patients don't die the bad news..
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@Judee and @Alvin2 , my understanding is that SSDI lawyers will get paid from a percentage of backpay. Is it true they don't get a portion of future pay in perpetuity? What percentages are typical to be taken from backpay: 20 or 25%?

I am also waiting to clarify with my group benefits insurer how much is offset from my LTD pay. I want to know up front how much hiring an ssdi lawyer will affect my LTD pay.

This is too much work for someine already struggling with chronic illness and so, I am tempted to hire a lawyer.
I do not know how it works in the USA but you might also look into any low income programs that might exist (if you qualify) and you might look at someone who charges by the hour if it would be advantageous for you.
You want a lawyer becasue you are facing a government whose goal is to throw you under the bus. Without someone on your side who has experience and training you are only reducing your chances of success. That said i know how hard it is, the system is designed to screw you so you need professional help to fight back :mad:
 
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I have heard that DDS and/or SSA employees have to write notes after having contact. One problem is that the disabled person might be trying to sound polite, nice, perky, etc (because we are used to trying to hide our illness), and then the employee would write down that they sounded energetic, happy, etc or said they were "fine, thank you".
 
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You want a lawyer becasue you are facing a government whose goal is to throw you under the bus.
Okay, I am looking at Moselle Leland's firm.
One problem is that the disabled person might be trying to sound polite, nice, perky, etc (because we are used to trying to hide our illness), and then the employee would write down that they sounded energetic, happy, etc or said they were "fine, thank you".
I normally take the time to explain how I am but I am concerned they will cherry pick what I said. If I put things in writing, I can be assured nothing can be taken out of context. For e.g. difference between what a "good day" vs "bad day" us like.
It's a gamble when talking with them with odds stacked against you.
She made it seem that all she needed was to clarify medical info in my application. Makes me think by not calling back, my application will be negatively tainted. I am going to fax to her a formal request for written questions, so I have time to answer each one. It took me 3 weeks to complete the online application, doing a little each day!
 

Alvin2

The good news is patients don't die the bad news..
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Okay, I am looking at Moselle Leland's firm.
I know it sucks, i went through that royal headache but they will rubber stamp your no becasue they are playing a game where they have almost all the cards and you have one card only.
I would not have succeeded without amazing legal assistance.
 

SnappingTurtle

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I wanted to report what I think is a happy outcome. This is appeared in My Social Security disability claim status:

"Disability Benefits

We have processed 100% of your application.

We made a decision to approve your application on July 8, 2021."

Yay, I think?!?

I ended up hiring Atty Jessica Friedman Friedman Law at Birmingham, AL with very early but great advice from Atty Moselle Leland in CA. Both actually thought I had a really strong case already and had suggested I wait until a denial/rejection before hiring them. I just didn't want to take any chances and listened carefully to others in this forum.

I ended up speaking on phone with a DDS person but it was a brief call for work history clarification. We requested written communication wherever possible and I was given deadline extensions, in order to complete paperwork (adult function form, work history, etc).

What I think what helped my case were supportive notes, medical records and letters feom my doctors, and most compelling were my 2 day CPET (Dr Lapp) showing PEM, and brain QEEG (Dr Zinn) showing mild cognitive deficits.

Again, great advice from How To Get On and this forum.