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Social Security Disability...who has been denied w/PD?

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I am a slow progression tremor dominant case that would be considered mild relatively speaking  and have some degradations to "executive function", attention span, apathy.   My company long term disability runs out at the end of the year as I turn 65 with one year left to Social Security FRA at 66.  I was thinking of applying for SSDI.   Has anyone with a milder PD case applied for SSDI and been denied ?  I guess I ought to ask who has been approved as well.  Thanks in advance for any "case studies".  

 

DB

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My original application was denied , I was told it would be a 2 year wait for the appeal process . But I had also put in a VA claim . Once the VA rated me at 100% ,my appeal was bumped up and had a hearing at 8 months . Had to stop working at 51 due to balance issues and the fact that my job was 80% of the time in elevated situations . also had a couple falls at work while carrying pipe and dropped some tools from the elevated areas . Coworkers don't seem to like dodging falling pipe wrenches . I was on the fence personally as to whether I was "bad" enough to stop working . but a couple close calls on a ten foot ladder and coworkers getting nervous that I'd hurt myself or them ,I knew it was time .

Dan

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Thanks Dan,

I think I will not be severe enough by the criteria I have found through google searches today.  Will just wait for FRA in one year.   I have not even thought about VA since retiring from AF in 1997.  

 

DB

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Hi Dan,    may I ask why you were denied,despite the fact that it wasn't safe for you to continue working,and considering all the falls you had.I am  also  considering applying,as my short term disability has expired.I have balance issues too.

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Sounds like  SSA has a view that if you can't do your current professional job that does not necessarily mean you are not able to do any job?

 

Filing for Social Security Disability with a Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis

Under guidelines set forth by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in it's "Blue Book," Parkinson’s Disease is a condition that can qualify a person for Social Security Disability benefits provided that certain diagnostic criteria are met and documented whiich include:

  • rigidity
  • bradykinesia, or tremor in two extremities causing ongoing problems with movement
  • gait, or ability to stand

There is no single test that can provide a definitive diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Diagnosis is based upon an evaluation of the symptoms present, as well as a neurological examination.

Also, the presence of at least two of what are considered to be the “cardinal symptoms” of Parkinson’s (which are tremor, bradykinesia, and muscle rigidity) can be considered to be strongly indicative of the presence of the condition.

Additionally, tremors of the hands that occur while the hand is at rest, symptoms that begin on one side of the body, and/or a positive response to levodopa (a standard Parkinson’s medication) are also telltale diagnostic tools.

 

It can be assumed that these symptoms could be used as the basis for a Social Security Disability case on their own should they become serious enough to inhibit one’s ability to work. If the disease has progressed to this point, however, the patient has likely already qualified based on physical/motor symptoms.

 

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When I got my denial letter they weren't real specific , basically it said that I was denied because I didn't fit the criteria based on chapter and paragraph of the specific  social security law . And gives you a description of how to appeal and so on . What I found out later from a friend whose sister works for social security , is it's all based on the wording and unless you lost a limb there's around an 80% denial rate . Let's say you go to the social security dept today and it's a bright sunny day so your having a good day , so you give them your symptoms at that time ( DENIED ) . When you go in you have to give them the description of your worst days and all the symptoms you have and those symptoms on the worst day possible . Then you will see a social security Doctor who will be examining you for those symptoms . most likely he or she will be a general practitioner that knows what parkinsons is but that's as far as it goes for knowledge . So you have to take the time to explain every symptom in detail . Write it down !!!! The DR I had was close to 75 yrs old and said tremor about 8 times during the visit . My response was yes but also ,and then went to the next symptom . Don't know if he was even listening at times .  At the appeal I went in front of the judge on a cold rainy western New York day , tremor was in high gear along with my speech being affected . So I suppose in a demented way it was a good thing I had one of my worse day's as a few weeks later I was approved ! As far as the VA I was stationed at a Air Base that is on the EPA's super fund list for contaminated ground water that supplied the wells that supplied the barracks with water . The VA is the same , symptoms on your worse day . They rate Parkinson's at around 30% but also rate each symptom . That's how I achieved 100% . The VFW or VA counsler can help with paper work . Letters from your DR and evidence of exposure is key . I was Aircraft maintenance as well so exposure to the contaminated water and exposure to chemicals . Vietnam era exposure to agent orange is pretty much automatic as long as there's proof you were in an area to get exposed  or being stationed at a base that stored it .

Dan

Edited by Hunter Dan

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So I would suggest that it is better to go for SS disability screening when you are "off",for all the symptoms to be present.I understand that they consider the age of the PWP too,because  at a certain age it may not be easy to secure a job outside one's profession even without PD,how much more with PD.

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From our experience (my husband qualified for SS Disability in 2012 at age 59), a lot of it depends on what your doctor has written In the medical records, not how you look on a given day. His MDS listed out her concerns for him continuing to work (falling, etc.) which were not the same as ours (fatigue, multitasking, etc.). Perhaps we were in denial about some of the symptoms. We stuck with her list (which was well documented in her notes) and he was approved. We learned that at his very first visit in 2005, she had noted concerns about him continuing to work. All my husband's doctors discussed that it is hard to predict who will be approved for SS Disability and who will not. One physician described it as a "crap shoot". All were clear that for people with PD it should be approved with proper documentation. Two things that helped us through the process: First, describing clearly to the Disability folks (not just SS but the private companies as well) what PD is - a progressive neurological disease and there is no cure. Second, we used the words from my husband's internist (more than once). He told us when they asked about continuing to work we should say "My doctor says I cannot work". Hardest for us is that while going through the Disability approval process (oh, the uncertainty was probably harder), we had to focus on what he couldn't do while we had always focused on what he could do. We would write out talking points (ours were all phone interviews) and then after the call go back to our more positive look on life. There was no misleading or misstating of the situation, just a different perspective. Good luck. This is hard. 

Oh, one more piece of advice my husband's internist gave us - "Remember, HR is not your friend". Proved true for us. 

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You really don't have to go to SS on an off day . You have to describe your symptoms when they are at there worse . I have good days where I feel guilty that I had to stop  working. Then on most other day's I know exactly why I can't . As Golden01 said your Doctors documentation is key . And explaining it to the SS Dr. which are usually contracted out and I'm sure been advised and trained to look for the scammers . Even my family Dr. when he originally suspected PD , told me he was a general medicine guy that knows PD but not as well versed as a specialist . It is a crap shoot , but with paperwork in order and the proper teminology while being asked about it helps . Buzz words like I'm certain instead of I guess so . It is a mentally challenging and frustrating process . Especially when we all know someone who was awarded SS and works harder on side projects and in their yards than they ever did at work ! Good luck !!!!

Dan

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As Hunter Dan says, "paperwork in order and the proper teminology while being asked about it help". Consistency on the various forms (and over the years) really is important. When my husband's MDS changed practices, she waited to get the copies of the her past forms to before completing the annual form required for employer's disability company so she could be "consistent". 

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I suggest that the OP apply for the SSDI anyway, because if you are eventually approved you will get back pay to the time you applied, and if you don't get approved then you start collecting at 66 anyway.

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I have applied for Social Security and denied twice. I'm 42 and my Parkinson's progressed quickly. The reply was at my age I should be able to do some kind of gainful work. Never referred to a social security doctor. Appealed for a hearing. Not old enough to retire early from my union although I can no longer do that work. There's no on the ground job for an ironworker. When/if SS finds in my favor I can retire from the union. The stress of supervising work is not an option. Tremors and dyskinesia would run wild. Anxiety is also the  issue. I've been trying for a year. Security lawyer to help with the situation. He said a hearing could take 19months. I haven't worked in almost 3 years. Really a struggle. I qualify for dbs but not disability. 

I agree with Dan days I feel great like I should be at work. Then the next day or even hours later I have a hard time walking.  It was really hard to admit I couldnt go back to work. Maybe at McDonald's with the salt shaker.jk

My suggestion apply as soon as possible. Make sure you submit a daily log of your symptoms or off times. I found this out after but heard it helps.

This is what Imakes going through. A pilot I know had no problem the first time. While othersome are still fighting. 

 

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Thanks much all.  Wrkjnky13 ...I sent you a message reference the pilot.  Will probably try and give it a shot at applying for SSD. 

 

DB

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The SSA recently changed their definition of what qualifies someone with PD for disability

It should make it easier to qualify.  Their former definition focused on motor function only.  The new one looks at a broader range of symptoms - like difficulty concentrating, or depression.

Your Neurologist's opinion has the greatest weight in the decision.  Make sure he/she is on board

If you have an Atypical varient of PD (LBD, MSA, CBD, PSP) make sure to call and let them know that.  Having Atypical PD is an automatic qualifier, under their Compassionate Allowances program.  I was approved under this program and the decision was made in less than a week.

 

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Thanks all for some great insights and info.  After helping my 61 yr old brother put his SSDI application in these last 2 weeks for cancer, I must say that simply applying for regular retirement benefits at 65 in a few short months holds an attraction to me.  My PD case is not severe enough I think (score about 12 on UPDRS) and I am not sure my MDS would support the effort in my case.  Will take another look at the blue book info then decide. 

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