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Recently received SSDI
Jun 4, 2012

I recently was awarded SSDI. I am 50 years old and applied at 48. I was diagnosed with AIDS when I was 42 years old. I had a severe case of Shingles when I was 42 and that is how I found out about my diagnosis after being tested. I have had ongoing neuralgia from the Shingles which has worsened. I did my best to keep my job but at this point the doctors say I will probably have it lifelong. I have also had alot of other issues such as pneumonia, gait issues etc. I was laid off from my job of almost 30 years when I was 48 (I actually had to train 2 27 year olds who ended up taking my position but that is another story). When I received the SSDI it did not tell me when I can expect a CDR (continuing disability review) nor did it say whether I am expected to improve or improvement not expected. I thought this was to be included in the information? I am very depressed about having to go on disability but I was losing everything because my income disappeared. What can I expect from SSDI? I know some get a review more often then others. I am ashamed to tell my family I went on this and so far they havent asked. I try to keep myself going to the best of my ability but I find myself running out of steam easily and I get very agitated with people.

Response from Mr. Chambers

I'm glad you received your SSDI benefits, but I am sorry it is such a burden on you. Doctors tend to focus on the physical reasons you can't work. Often overlooked, however, is emotional toll going on disability can take on you.

It is depressing to realize you are unable to work, that you are "no longer a contributing member of society," or that you have "given up" your fight against the disease or any number of messages we get from family and peers (and internally)from the Puritan work ethic drummed into all of us. I really encourage you to find a counselor to talk this over with. I personally recommend all my clients talk to a therapist as they transition from work to disability.

You ask: What can I expect from SSDI? Actually, all you can count on is that check or deposit will show up every month on the designated Wednesday and they will keep coming. After two years of benefits payments, your Medicare Care will start and your card will automatically be sent to you a couple of months before it's effective. And there are, occasionally Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs).

Regarding the CDR, I'm not sure why SSA no longer indicates in the award letter when to expect a review. It would relieve a lot of stress. On the other hand, knowing when it is suppose to come can be just as stressful, especially since SSA is running behind schedule.

Usually, reviews are around three years after approval IF they expect to see some recovery. It stretches from there up to about seven years if they don't expect much improvement. I know some who have collected SSDI for over ten years without a CDR.

Also, the vast majority of reviews are what is called the short form CDR. It's read by computer and just basically asks if you've improved, stayed the same, or are worse. It asks about hospitalizations and your last three doctor visits. The usual advice from advocates is to not put anything on that form which would cause it to be kicked out for review, which generally means don't add any Remarks.

I wonder, however, if your concern over CDRs (which very rarely result in termination)is more a point of focus for all your other concerns. I can say don't worry, but I'm not sure that would help you much. Just the pressure of keeping this from your family must be devastating. Please consider finding a counselor or therapist, if only for a few sessions.

Good luck, Jacques



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