Obtaining social security disability benefits is an important topic to research after sustaining a spinal cord injury (SCI). Julieanne sustained an SCI from an automobile accident which made it difficult for her to work post-injury. She answers the following questions concerning her previous work experience and applying for SSDI.
What was your work experience like before becoming injured?
"I worked in administration in healthcare/hospice - scheduling, filing, and a lot of computer work. I also worked with clients outside the office. Honestly, I loved my job immensely, and it was heartbreaking to leave when I became injured. I was never able to work again. I worked my entire life and provided for my family as a single mom."
If you have tried to obtain employment post-injury, how has the work experience differed?
"I wasn't able to obtain employment because of my SCI. I'm on my fourth insurance company trying to get back surgery for that accident - even after all of my doctors tell me I need it. One of them said I didn't have enough nerve damage to qualify, but if I don't have the surgery, my doctors said I may not be able to walk down the road. The doctors have said they've never seen anyone having this much difficulty getting the surgery."
From your perspective, how is the process of applying for and obtaining SSDI?
"Filling out the paperwork was an absolute nightmare - I knew I needed help. By using a representative, it became very easy. I didn't have to do anything at all. Everyone had me worried because normally you're denied during the first few attempts."
Is there anything you would recommend to make the process easier for those that need it?
"I would strongly recommend getting help at the beginning of the process. Don’t wait until you’re already stuck in the backlog of nearly a million people before reaching out to a company like Allsup. Using a representative early helped me avoid potential mistakes that could've prevented me from getting my disability benefits as quickly as possible."
Do you have any advice for others who are applying for SSDI?
"One of the most effective ways to get through the SSDI process more quickly is to get representation with your application. Working with a representative helped me understand if I was eligible and what to expect throughout the process. People who have representation from the beginning are more likely to be among the 33 percent who get approved at the initial level, which means avoiding the hearing backlog altogether."
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