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Sun Aug 26, 2012, 01:38 AM

 

Disability question

In a few months I'll be 56 and eligible to retire from my federal job with 32 years creditable service. From what I understand, in addition to my FERS annuity I'll also be able to collect something called a Social Security Supplemental equal to roughly 80% of what I'd collect under regular SS at age 62.

I'd like to be able to work a few more years because of the financial needs of my family, but I believe I have something called chronic venous insufficiency that causes my lower legs and feet to swell grotesquely (my own diagnosis as a nurse, I've been putting off seeing a doctor about it) and I'm afraid it may cause more damage to my legs if I continue working on my feet in my present profession much longer.

My question is this: If I were to qualify for disability, would collecting it affect my retirement pay or the Social Security Supplemental? Could I collect the disability in addition to all that? Or would I be better off from a total income aspect just to claim the supplemental and my FERS retirement? If I do elect to try to qualify for disability, should I wait until after I have retired from federal service and have started collecting those retirement monies or should I do it now while I'm still working? I had planned that, even if I did retire, I'd try to work a couple of days a week for a private agency. Could I collect disability and still do that?

I know that's a lot of questions and the answers may be complicated. I just wanted to check in here perhaps with some folks who have experience in these matters before I started an "official" process with people who may or may not have my best interests in mind. I can provide a little more information if it's needed. Thanks in advance.

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Response to sylvi (Original post)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 02:01 AM

1. I wouldn't begin to speculate on what might happen...but

 

I can share this: Get started right away finding out. Start with your social security office. They can answer many questions. I have devastating MS, that goes all the way to my brain stem and was completely bedridden with spasms though out my body for months before I was diagnosed. I started disability immediately upon discharge from the hospital and it took me two and a half years, two denials and an appeal before an administrative judge before I was awarded. So the time it might take you, depending on where you are, can be more than you might expect. During this time I was unable to work, and had to rely on family and friends for every dime of my household expenses and basics like food and toiletries, medicines, etc. Rough time to say the least. I know this doesn't answer your particular questions, but you should start getting the answers. In the end I had to hire a lawyer of course. But start now, by the time it all settles out you will be glad you did. Get copies of all relevant medical records going back as far as you are able. And get copies each time you visit a doctor or hospital so you can have a file. It's SOP for me now. Good luck! I am sorry to hear about your condition, and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

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Response to sylvi (Original post)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 02:01 AM

2. I have no idea what the answers to your questions are. I do think they are interesting,

and I'm giving this a kick and rec in hopes that someone with expertise comes along to help you.

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Response to sylvi (Original post)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 02:02 AM

3. Unfortunately, living in Ontario, I'm not much help... but I have worked with a girl...

who has chronic venous insufficiency... so thinking of that..

I wondered if you do your taxes or have someone do them.. because an accountant would know the answer to your questions.

Alternately, you speak of working for a federal service... would the Human Relations Dept help you? Surely the HR dept has to keep matters confidential...you wouldn't have to tell them the condition you think you have... but just get the facts from them..

All I can say is good luck and hopefully someone with more info can help you...

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Response to sylvi (Original post)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 02:08 AM

4. see if your doc

Would want you in ted hose or some type of wrap. Best of luck. Protect your legs.

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Response to sylvi (Original post)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 07:40 AM

5. first you should make sure that leg and feet swelling isn't

 

a heart problem.

2nd, as the other poster said, start now. Disability will take a good two year fight and you will probably have to get an attorney for it.

3rd, I think you can claim ss and your pension no problem.
SS supplemental, I don't know about.

start by looking up requirement to collect that ss supplement. And just call and ask. "Am I able to collect this if I qualify for disability?"

I think you can see those disability lawyers for a free consult. They may very well know your answers and be able to give you advice. You will not be obligated to them but sadly I think the only way to get disability these days is to hire one of them.

go to a doctor now and confirm your diagnosis.

good luck to you

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Response to sylvi (Original post)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 07:42 AM

6. First get under drs care for your problem

Document everything, every treatment you're doctor has tried. Get copies of all medical records. This is not something that is easy to get and without proof from a doctor your chances of disability are close
to zero. It also depends on if they can find a type of work that someone with you condition can do. If you are currently working it will be tough. Sorry I am typing on cell phone and not good at it.I am on disability and did it myself without a lawyer. I was approved the first time. My profession was also medical, radiological technologist. It is the only work I ever did(42 years). X-ray tech is a physically demanding job and due to severe arthritis in both hips I could not continue. Because I had no experience in any other type of work and my age at the time (57) I was approved. It is possible to do it yourself but you have to do the homework. Good luck.

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Response to sylvi (Original post)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 08:39 AM

7. You are a Fed employee, so you have a Personnel Office

with experts on retirement. Ask them after you have a full health assessment by a physician.

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Response to sylvi (Original post)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 11:53 AM

8. You are a FERS emplyee. You paid into SS and will be able to collect.

I do not believe it will affect your FERS payments. I am a federal retiree and collect both SS retirement and a FERS pension.

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Response to sylvi (Original post)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 02:14 PM

9. I appreciate the responses

 

Thank you all. I guess I'll try to talk to my HR people first. As I said I'm just a few months away from retirement and don't want to be "forced" to retire early and miss my full benefits. But if things really grind away that slowly, I guess I'll be out anyway before a decision is made. Again, thanks.

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Response to sylvi (Original post)

Mon Aug 27, 2012, 02:54 PM

10. IF you are "Disabled" as that term is used in Social Security, then you get the FULL SS amount.

 

I am NOT familiar with the " Social Security Supplemental" plan, but if you are disabled, as defined by Social Security, you would get what you would get if you retired at age 65 (or whatever is your Social Security retirement age, it slowly increase for those born after 1950 to age 67 for people born after 1960). The reduction in monthly Social Security checks done if you retire at age 62 does NOT come into play, if you are disabled under the Social Security Rules.

As to disability, the issue is can you do your past type of work (I.e. work you have done over the last 15 years), if the answer is YES, you are NOT disabled, no matter how disabled you are. If you can NOT do work you have done in the last 15 years, then the issue is are there other work you can do given your disability. Now, you are clearly over age 18. The next "magic" age for Social Security is age 50, then 55, then 60. I call these "Magic" ages for Social Security has taken into consideration the aging process, and thus makes it easier to get on Disability the older you get. Please remember the above rule as to work you have done in the last 15 years. You must be unable to do work you have done in the last 15 years due to your disability BEFORE we ever look into age 50, 55 and 60. SSA has adopted a five step process to determine if you are disabled, it appears you survive Steps One through Three, Step Four is can you return to work you have done over the last 15 years, if you can you do NOT go to Step Five for you have been ruled by SSA to be NOT disabled. If you can NOT do past work then and only then do you go to Step Five and its age grids.

Step 5 says if you are over age 50, SSA will NOT consider "Sedentary" type work, i.e. any work that requires you to lift no more then 10 pounds occasionally, and frequent lifting of one or less pounds AND be on your feet no more then two hours in an eight hour day. "Sedentary Work" includes Small Parts testers, Small Parts baggers, Surveillance Systems Monitors etc.

At age 55, SSA adds "Light Work" to the list of Jobs if people can NOT do, they are disabled. "Light work" is defined as any jobs that requires frequent lifting of up to 10 pounds and occasionally lifting up to 20 pounds (And any Sedentary Job that requires you to be on your feet more the two hours in an eight hour day). The Classic "Light Job" includes ticker takers, Cashier in a restaurant (Where the Job only requires the cashier to be at the Cash Register as opposed to other work), receptionist, Daytime Janitor, most office work etc.

At age 60, "Medium Work" is added to the list of jobs NOT considered. "Medium Work" is any job where you have to lift up to 50 pounds occasionally, and 25 pounds frequently. The classic "Medium Work" are Jobs such as Waitress, Cashier in a Food Store, night time Janitor etc.

Please note, Janitor and Cashiers can be Light or Medium, depends on what is being asked of them. Light Cashiers, for example, never handle products of the store they are in, someone else does that job. Medium Cashiers, which are most Cashiers, have to carry and tote items used in the Business in addition to running the cash register. Medium Janitors run heavy waxing machines and does heavy cleaning generally at night, Light Janitors basically run a dust-mop over the floors to keep the dust down (Thus done throughout the day in most retail stores).

Your legs are the key, if they swell up to much, then you can NOT be on them for more then two hours in an eight hour day, that would prevent you from doing anything more then sedentary work and if you are over age 50, Sedentary work does NOT count.

Nursing in considered "Heavy Work", you moved items (including bodies) over 50 pounds frequently and over 100 pounds occasionally. The big issue, when it comes to Nursing, is do you have any TRANSFERABLE SKILLS TO SEDENTARY OR LIGHT WORK? Notice I said SKILLS, things you were trained to do or learned on the job. If the answer is NO, then the above rules apply, if the answer is YES, then any job that your SKILLS can be transferred to of a Light or Sedentary nature is viewed as a job you can still do even if you are over age 60. Notice it is NOT any job, but jobs where your skills can be used.

Thus your training as a Nurse is a Factor. Registered Nurses (RN) have four years of training and thus often have skills they can use in other jobs of a Light or Medium nature (i.e. medical tests, helping people on and off X-rays and other medical devices etc). In some ways the Skills of an RN may even be used in some Sedentary job (i.e. giving certain limited medical advice over the phone). Please notes such jobs MUST exist, not just be thought of, i.e. it may be NOT legal for you to give to much advice over the phone without a Doctor's "supervision" thus phone advice may NOT be a real option, I just mention it as a possible job not as a real job.

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), do NOT have the education of an RN, and thus have less Skills to be transferred to another job. On the other hand they do have some skills, and some of those skills may be used in Light or Sedentary occupations (But much less then in the case of a RN). In most cases the Skills a LPN learned in her education, training and experience tend to ones used only in Nursing, thus not transferable to other jobs. Nurses Aide (NA) have even less training and thus less transferable skills (In most cases NO transferable skills, as that term is used in the SSA regulations). I bring this up, for what you are in terms of the word "Nurse" is a huge factor as to level of your training and skills. In my opinion, only a question if you are an RN, for the simple reason to be an RN requires that much more education in the use of medicine, medical care and the paperwork involved in such care. Technically it is possible for an RN to have enough education training and experience to have skills she could use in a light or sedentary job. On the other hand, most skills of a RN are related to her occupation as a RN, and thus not transferable to other jobs. In a claim for Social Security Disability, something that will be reviewed by a "Vocational Expert" at an Administrative Law Judge hearing, after the SS application is denied at the initial application and an appeal is filed.

Basically, if you are over age 50 AND your legs are preventing you from being on your feet more then two hours in an eight hour day, I just can NOT think of any job where the Skills you learned as an RN can be used in an eight hour a day job. Even if you are doing medical tests, you have to walk around to gather what is being tested and that is often more then two hours in an eight hour day. Thus, If you can do Light or Medium work, Jobs exist that you can do, but if you can NOT be on your feet more then two hours in an eight hour day, I doubt they are any jobs where your skills can be used. Please note, two hours does not mean two hours on one feet at a time, it means two hours spread throughout the day.

Just some background information on what is Disability as defined by SSA.

Now, in an Administrative Law Judge Hearing, the Vocational Expert will be asked the skills that a person learned in their previous occupation and then asked is their opinion consistent with the "Dictionary of Occupational Titles" DOT). The Vocational Expert will say, yes, AND often then add also his/her experience etc.

The DOT code for Registered Nurse is here: An RN is considered a medium level work, at the low end of SKILLED employment (SVP of 7 or 8)
http://www.occupationalinfo.org/defset1_7254.html

A more detail analysis of what a RN has to do:
http://www.occupationalinfo.org/onet/32502.html

The DOT code for an LPN: An LPN is medium work, at the high end of Semi-skilled employment AN SVP of 6).
http://www.occupationalinfo.org/07/079374014.html

A more detail analysis of what a LPN has to do:
http://www.occupationalinfo.org/onet/32505.html

THE COT code for a Nurses Aide is as follows: Classified at the low end of Semi-skilled employment.
http://www.occupationalinfo.org/35/355674014.html

Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) is defined as the amount of lapsed time required by a typical worker to learn the techniques, acquire the information, and develop the facility needed for average performance in a specific job-worker situation

1 - Short demonstration only

2 - Anything beyond short demonstration up to and including 1 month

3 - Over 1 month up to and including 3 months

4 - Over 3 months up to and including 6 months - Nurses Aide are in this category

5 - Over 6 months up to and including 1 year

6 - Over 1 year up to and including 2 years - Most LPN positions are here

7 - Over 2 years up to and including 4 years - Some RN positions are here

8 - Over 4 years up to and including 10 years - Most RN positions are here

9 - Over 10 years

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Response to happyslug (Reply #10)

Tue Aug 28, 2012, 08:16 AM

11. Thanks

 

Lots of info to digest. Much appreciated.

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Response to sylvi (Original post)

Wed Mar 12, 2014, 08:28 PM

12. A friend of mine had

a problem with swelling in the ankles. They were sore and red. He went to a cardiologist and he put in stents in his leg to increase blood flow. The pain is gone, the swelling is gone and he can walk without a cane. Ask your doctor if this type of surgery would apply to you.

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Response to sylvi (Original post)

Mon Mar 14, 2016, 01:53 PM

13. disability

I was approved the first time. My profession was also medical, radiological technologist. It is the only work I ever did(42 years). X-ray tech is a physically demanding job and due to severe arthritis in both hips I could not continue. Because I had no experience in any other type of work and my age at the time (57) I was approved. It is possible to do it yourself but you have to do the homework. Good luck.

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