My sister was recently diagnosed with myotonic dystrophy by a neurologist specializing in neuromuscular diseases at USF Medical School. She had worked for the same company (Verizon) for nearly 30 years but was laid off five or six years ago and didn't feel well enough to look for a new job. Her ability to walk or stand and her mental / cognitive state has continued to decline. We spent years pleading with her to see a specialist, but she was afraid, depressed, and financially strapped. One reason for her fear was her brother suffered a slow death a few years ago of the same myotonic dystrophy, and she had been exhibiting similar symptoms. It took us nearly a year to get an appointment with the USF specialist after being referred by a neurologist in Brandon. Anyway, he tested her and diagnosed her with myotonic dystrophy for which there is no treatment he says. My question is whether she is eligible for SSDI after not having been employed for several years. Does she need a lawyer to apply or should she apply and get a lawyer if she is denied as I understand most are. Also, what do lawyers typically charge to represent a case like this? Thank you
When is the last time she worked? You must apply for Ssdi benefits within five years of the date she last worked to qualify for ssdi benefits. Otherwise, she would have to apply for ssi benefits. That type of benefit is welfare based. You must meet certain asset requirements in order to qualify for those benefits. If she has assets that exceed $3000 she won’t qualify for ssdi. Best thing to do is call the social security administration 1800-772-1213 and discuss the claim.
Chadwick J. Lawrence, Esq. Serving all of Florida AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell,10 Superb AVVO
Before filing the claim, she should go to SSA.gov and set up a user name and password. She will then be able to see her earnings records. It will show if she is eligible and how much she is entitled to receive. Even if it has been more than five years since she last worked, she should file a claim for benefits. There is no special legal knowledge to apply for SSD or SSI. You can go to SSA.gov, click the link to apply for benefits and answer the questions. They are all questions that she or family should be able to answer since the questions are all personal. My website: miracledisability.com has more information about how to apply. If she is denied she should contact an attorney for help with an appeal. Even the most ill often are erroneously initially denied.
As to your particular concern about whether your sister remains eligible after being out of work for several years, there is a dual answer because only one of the two disability programs is based on a person's work record. SSDI (title 2) is based on a person's work record not financial need, Social Security will know how many "quarters" she has earned and if she is eligible; from your description it is possible for her to be eligible with a "date last insured" that has expired. The date last insured is not eligibility to file, but rather a "proof date" to show she has been unable to work since that date. The other kind of claim is SSI (title 16) where work credits are immaterial, instead financial need is VERY important.
This is general information only. I am not providing you with legal advice. To hire an attorney, contact your state or local bar association for a referral to an attorney in your area.
I would recommend she consult an attorney immediately. There are several different types of claims that can be filed and just because she is unable to file for one, does not mean she can’t file for one of the other types. The main concern is in regards to what her date last insured is. Any competent Social Security attorney should be able to explain this issue to her.
This answer is provided as a public service for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Providing this information does not create an attorney-client relationship nor is any information shared considered privileged or confidential. As with all legal matters, you should contact an experienced attorney and be aware that there are time limits for asserting potential claims.
Just to add to Mr. Simon's response...when he stated the Date of Last Insured status was the proof date...what that means to Social Security is that your sister would have to prove her disability began at least prior to her Date of Last Insured. This is done with medical records and regular ongoing treatment. If she worked consistently for as long as you claim and she was treating within that approximate 5 year window of time following her last work, she very well might have an argument she is entitled to SSDI benefits.
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