my husband has juvielle diabetes, depression, numbness in feet, and he can’t do the same work he used to do he has to see a judge in a couple of weeks. He put off getting a lawyer. He has alot of mood swings and can’t hold any job he’s only been able to hold a job for 8 months or fewer and up to a year in the last 15/20 years. He has stomach problems by digesting his food. What do you think about him winning his case? Does he even have a chance by your opinion? –Angie
Jonathan Ginsberg responds: Angie, thanks for your email and I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s issues. Based on what you write, I think that he has a good chance at getting approved for benefits. Here are a couple of thoughts….
First, you need to find out if he is “insured” for Title II disability. As a rule, he needs to have 20 covered quarters out of the last 40 quarters. As there are 4 quarters in a year, that means he needs to have worked for 5 out of the last 10 years. The way the system works if he has earned around $3,000 in a calendar year, he gets credit for 4 quarters. You can find out if he has enough quarters for Title II disability by filling out a form 7004. It is important to know if he is covered because if he is not, he would only be eligible for SSI. And SSI can be offset by your earnings, assets and other factors.
Assuming he is covered, he needs to apply. That’s easy and free – call 800-772-1213. The next step is to build a winning case. Although he can hire a lawyer at any step in the process, in most cases there is not much a lawyer can do until SSA denies his claim. Some folks even wait until the second denial (reconsideration) before hiring a lawyer. I have written a book about winning at the initial and recon levels – see www.disabilityforms.com. My book and course explain how to fill out the forms using the terms and approach most attractive to Social Security.
My book is designed to help people at the initial and recon stages – if you have to request a hearing, I’d say you are better off with a lawyer. My disability lawyer referral link is here. If you hire a lawyer at this late date, your lawyer may (or may not) want to ask for a continuance to make sure that the file is updated.
The way you win is to find a treating doctor who will support your argument that your husband would not be a reliable worker because of unscheduled absences caused by any physical or mental health limitations. The technical term for this is “residual functional capacity.” In other words, what capacity for work remains after you take into account the limitations caused by his medical problems?
One word of caution – I have found that Social Security tends to see things in black and white. Part time work that generates income can confuse the issue – SSA often concludes that if you can work Job XYZ part time then you could probably work a less demanding Job ABC full time.
And finally, I think that your husband may be better off focusing on one of his conditions as the primary reason he cannot work. I have found that SSA is more receptive to a clear theory of disability based on one major problem than disability based on numerous problems.