SHARE Metastatic Breast Cancer
1,807 members1,070 posts

How do I apply for disability?

I was dx with MBC to my lungs in Jan. 2016. I’ve responded well to treatment. I feel that I need to be prepared for the time I can no longer work. I work full time in accounting right now. I would like advice on how to apply for disability and what to expect. My medical insurance is through my employer. What happens when you go on disability? Help!

14 Replies
oldestnewest

I can only tell you what I learned 15 years ago. You cannot be working while you try for disability. Contact a disability attorney. Gather all records from all Drs. If attorney has to get any medical records they will charge extra. When you and the attorney has everything gathered together he will make an appt for you to go before a disability judge to determine if you need disability. If you get disability and purchase medicare you cannot purchase a supplemental insursnce until you are 65. There are only about 5 states that allow you to purchase a supplemental before you are 65. When you go on disability you are required to purchase a prescription plan. I have helped my Mother with this and none of the plans are very good. Your prescription costs are going to be outrageous. Again, this info is about 15 years old except for the supplemental insurance. That is current.

1 like
Reply

If we are talking about temporary disability, I know from experience you should be able to apply thru EDD with your doctor saying that you are eligible, stating the medical condition you have. If we are talking about permanent disability, then what Selmac is suggesting sounds good. I had back surgery plus getting used to treatment for cancer. I am presently working on recovering from my back surgery, hoping to be able to go back to work. So far, the treatment for the breast cancer I have is not adversely affecting me (praying). I wish you well, hang in there.

1 like
Reply

I applied online in January 2017. Four days later I received a call stating my disability had been approved. There is a five month waiting period before payments are effective.

Stage 4 Breast cancer is an automatic approval. It is also a priority status for the approval process. Applying and getting approved was so easy and fast I couldn't believe it.

3 likes
Reply

this is accurate and very current. I got approved in 10 days, like received a check in ten days. if you become well enough to work, there is a program for that. medicare is a two year waiting period from the start of disability for those under 65. you do not need a lawyer, your cancer practice should have a therapist/social worker to help you. Mine also has gotten cash grants to paid bills and theater tickets (for fun and uplifted spirits). Also get therapy for many reasons but this is a good place to talk over the strategy and timing of going unto disability.

2 likes
Reply

What happens to your insurance?

Reply

Can you work at all?

Reply

My experience was not as fast as Pat' s, but was the same. You do have to wait two years for Medicare to kick in, and do check about the supplemental insurance. That is real. It was paperwork, but no big deal. It's all available online.

2 likes
Reply

If you have worked enough quarters, you will qualify for Social Security Disability. Call the Social Security office closest to you--I have always gotten good info from them! When I applied, in 2004, I had to wait until I had stopped working. I called my first day post work and was given an appointment to apply the very next day at 8 am. Always make a point of telling them that you have stage IV metastatic terminal bc! No need for an attorney. When I was in the waiting room, I heard other people talking and most had waited 6-8 weeks for their appt! We really do get fast tracked! I applied in person so I could hand carry copies of my lab and pathology reports, the "evidence" of the cancer. At that time, on line application was not an option. Decide which is best for you. And talk with your onc--many are very supportive of our stopping working. There is a 5 month wait from the time you stop working. And it stretches to 6 months as we are paid in the month following the month the payment covers, for example I get paid for October in November. And when in the month we receive payment depends on when in the month our birthday falls. Mine is the 26th and I receive payment on the fourth Wednesday of the month, so my wait was closer to 7 months than five. Once we have been on Social Security Disability for 24 months, we become Medicare eligible. Social Security used to mail out statements every year to those of us still working, with info about what our eventual retirement benefits would be, and also what amount of disability we were eligible for. You can request a statement like that now from Social Security. Mine was accurate to the penny! Also, I receive mine via direct deposit and that has been done on time every month, even when we switched banks, actually to a credit union.

If you are being treated at a cancer center or large oncology practice, there is probably somebody there who works with patients to find all the resources they qualify for -- a finance person of some kind. States vary alot in what is available. Savings and home ownership don't count against you at all for Social Security Disability.

Find out if your employer offers some kind of short term or long term disability and what they do about health insurance.

One of the slightly humorous things that happened when I applied for SSD was that I was not having a good day the day of my appointment with SS. At the end, when the person there handed me 3 or 4 pages to read and sign, I got confused and needed her help keeping track of what page was what. Later I figured that probably did not hurt my case! lol

I had made a point of telling her that I was not interested in applying for Supplemental Security Income, a disability program for those with limited finances. So when I got a letter about two weeks later, turning me down for that, I phoned Social Security to make sure that an application for SSD had really been filed. The person I spoke with on the phone found that my application had already been approved and said she had never seen an application approved so quickly! It was weeks later, maybe a couple of months, before I got a formal letter of approval in the mail but it was very comforting to know it was approved.

I hope your process will be as easy as it was for me. And I hope you will have some other income as well. I would hate to have to live on just my Social Security!

I can add that when I turned full retirement age of 66, nothing changed, same amount, same date, smooth transition that I did nothing for. I was 58 when I applied and am 71 now.

I have heard good things about medicare supplemental medical insurance thru AARP. Medicare only covers 80 % and we need insurance for the other 20 %. The cancer center where I go charges over $2000 every 28 days for the Faslodex I get, plus fees for the appt and injection, etc. Whew, could not afford that on my own!

2 likes
Reply

Thank you for so much information.

Reply

SHARE recently recorded a webinar on this topic that may be helpful: sharecancersupport.org/disa...

2 likes
Reply

Thank you!

Reply

I would also talk with your benefits dept at work. You may have a short term disability program that you can use while waiting for social security to kick in. I would also clarify about your health insurance coverage with your employer. One surprise thing that I found out after I was disabled was that you can start to take out 401K money without the early withdrawal penalty if you are disabled.

1 like
Reply

If you're working and on short-term disability you can then move on to long-term disability, and your employer most likely has a plan where you will be paid at least 50% of your salary either through life or up to a certain time period. Often times, your employer's insurance company, which pays the LTD, will require you to apply for Social Security Disability.

To apply for SSD you would simply either go the the Social Security office in your area or apply online (as someone mentioned). You only would need an attorney, if for some reason there's a problem.

I believe you cannot work initially (I could be wrong about that), except, once you're on SSD, Social Security has a Ticket-to-Work program, and you can ask them for a brochure to find out more.

As to medical insurance, if you stop working you would first receive COBRA for about 18 months (although, I'm not sure what the time period is currently) and then you would be eligible to receive Medicare.

For Medicare you could take an Advantage plan, which is like an HMO, meaning you can go only to doctors in the network. Or you can take what I call, "plain vanilla" Medicare, or the original Medicare plan, which was the only plan available prior to the start of Advantage plans. Advantage plans are less expensive than plain vanilla and include all the parts of plain vanilla Medicare (Part A (hospital), B (medical), C (supplemental), D (prescriptions)) in their network.

The benefit of plain vanilla is that you are not confined to an HMO, and that may be beneficial if you want to see a doctor that's not in your plan. Also, you can cross state lines without a problem (I'm not sure whether HMOs cross state lines, for example if you happen to live near a major cancer center that's just across the border. Perhaps, that center would be in the HMO.).

Plain Medicare covers 80% (Parts A and B), which means that you need supplemental insurance (Part C), which every state offers (such as BC&BS, UnitedHealthCare, Cigna, etc.). That covers the remaining 20%. Then you would need Part D for prescriptions.

In plain vanilla, Medicare would be the primary insurance, and if the cost is approved, the remaining 20% automatically goes to your supplemental insurance for coverage. If Medicare covers it, they cover it.

Reply

Thank you very much!

Reply

You may also like...