As the economy enters into its upteempth year of recession, it's only natural for men to become depressed maybe even bipolar or schizophrenia. If that has happened to you, my condolences. It's a hard life to live but with today's welfare state there is help available. Having worked my way through the system I wanted to offer some advice to men seeking disability benefits.
First, there are two forms of help available. One is SSDI which is social security disability insurance. This is only available to workers who have become disabled. You have to pay taxes for a number of years to qualify for this. Two is SSI which is supplemental security income. This is available to everyone regardless of time worked or taxes paid. While almost all of this information is relevant to both, specifically I'm referring to SSI.
So what are the first steps to take to getting on the dole? Easy, you have to be bipolar or schizophrenic. Not only that but you have to found disabled. Let me take you through the process that normally happens.
Bipolar is a crazy illness. It has many different types. Bipolar type I will qualify someone for benefits. To find out if you're bipolar go here: Bipolar Information
Now that you're familiar with what bipolar is and recognize some of the signs you can take the following steps.
- You must see a psychiatrist. A general practitioner is not enough. Normally, a psychiatrist will require a therapist as well. See both. The therapist will be asked to vouch for your disability claim as well. Make sure to have all of your history of when your symptoms started occurring and how they affected your life.
- Fill out an application at the social security website. You will need to fill out both an SSI and SSDI application regardless. You may want to call the nearest social security office.
- One of the most difficult parts of getting on disability is the fact that you can't just be bipolar and receive benefits. It's estimated that 75% of all claims are denied on their first attempt. That number is probably higher but don't fret. There are things you can do to improve your chances of success.
- Having a long and detailed history of your mental illness is probably the best thing you can. Also, having a string of failed jobs or unemployment can also help.
- You need to be disabled and the state considers that unable to work. Any. Job. At. All. The state will deny your claim if they believe you can flip burgers or work a kiosk part time. You must be totally incapable of working a job that will provide for your survival.
- You will be given medication. This is par the course for anyone who is bipolar. Most claims will deny you if you aren't currently seeing a psychiatrist, therapist, and "taking" medication. There are many risks and small benefits to taking most of the drugs for bipolar. These drugs are over prescribed and have lifelong detriments to them if taken long enough. They can increase suicidality, violence, and cause an intensity in the symptoms they're prescribed for. Be extremely cautious if you're thinking about "taking" these drugs.
- Hospitalization for mental illness is very common with someone with bipolar. A bipolar person faces a much greater risk of suicide. They'll often dial 911 as a cry for help, saying they want to die. They'll be whisked away for a medical exam and then admitted to a mental ward for about 72 hours at least. Most people at this time feel much better and no longer want to hurt themselves. They'll then be discharged and free to go. The reason why I'm putting this on the application is because, while hospitalization is a tragedy, it really helps the approval rating for any disability claim.
- You may wish to call the social security office and fill out an application over the phone. Some of the questions on the form are ambiguous and it helps to have a person to ask if you're unsure. They will schedule a callback appointment and you can handle everything over the phone.
- They will request you go to see a state sponsored psychiatrist. Repeat your history and all the symptoms you've experienced up to this point and this visit should be very simple. You will be asked to visit a doctor for an exam if you've stated a physical disability along with your mental illness.
- You wait. And wait. And wait. The state moves slowly and will be in no hurry. One of the hardest parts about getting on SSI is surviving before you get it. If you can work and survive than the state believes you're not disabled. If you can't work it's hard to survive. Some people move in with friends or family or work jobs off the books. Waiting for the decision can take months.
- You may get denied. They love denying people. You hear all kinds of horror stories about double amputees being denied on their first claim. Some get approved on the first try. It mostly depends on how great the patient's history is.
- This is important. Immediately after you get denied you need to appeal the claim. This the same as the first application. You do a phone interview and relate much of the same information. But you must state clearly that you want to appeal the decision. If you don't appeal it within 60 days you have to start the whole procedure over again. The chance of approval increases on appeal.
- You should continue to appeal the claim until approved.
- You get approved. Congrats.
Once approved you'll collect back pay. The payments you receive from disability begin from the date you filed your claim not from the date it was approved. That means your first few checks will be larger than is normal. Some suggest getting an attorney. I don't. An attorney will consume most of your back pay and a lot of the benefits they can provide can be found for free. Most social workers or therapists will be able to help you.
While SSI won't let you live a life of luxury it can help a lot of people. There are some drawbacks to it. All payments are electronic. You can only keep a small amount of money in your bank at any time and expect to collect. The number is normally 2k. You can still work and collect but only the first 85$ does not reduce your benefits. Every dollar you make after that reduces your amount by half. So if you make 700$ a month from SSI and 1486$ or more from your job, you're SSI payment will be 0$. SSDI has no requirements on the money in your bank.
Being approved for disability also comes with medicaid benefits which allow you to see most doctors for a small copay. You will also be approved for SNAP, food stamps benefits as well as section 8 public housing, and low income housing. Call your housing authority to see if your apartment accepts housing vouchers.
Times are tough. Good luck men.
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