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RobertJDFL, Attorney
Category: Legal
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62 year old cousin with back and other problems hasnt held

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62 year old cousin with back and other problems hasn't held a job for 15 years. Is he eligible for some sort of disability benefit? Social Security? State of California? Has no income and lives with 96 year old mom who is running out of money
Thank you for your question.

There are no state run programs that he could get that would give him income, though if he hasn't done so, he may want to see if he can qualify for food stamps. With respect to disability, he can file for social security disability, but he should know that most people are initially denied when they filed, and the approval time (if he is approved) can take 18 months to 2+ years between the appeal of the initial denial, waiting for a hearing, waiting for a judge's decision after the hearing, etc.

Also, it sounds like he does have some work history - he may want to inquire about receiving social security now instead of at 65. Doing so typically does reduce the amount he would normally receive by waiting (and social security would be able to tell him in his specific case how much he would receive now versus waiting) but if he needs income now, that may be a good option for him. Additionally, he can collect social security and still file for social security disability - if approved, the amount of his social security check would simply increase.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have heard that a note from an MD stating that the person is unable to work may be helpful. Is that true? Does it matter what kind of doctor? Ours is a general practitioner. Is there magic wording for such a note/letter?

Thank you,


I apologize for my tardy reply. In answer to your question - yes, a letter from a treating doctor stating how long they have been treating the person, their impairments, and how it affects them (e.g., this person can only stand for 2 hours in an 8 hour day, sit for 2 hours in an 8 hour day, would be expected to miss work 2 days a month, etc), that can be helpful. Obviously, medical records will be most important in making a determination.

It doesn't matter what type of doctor, though of course it should one your cousin has been treating with.

Also, I would think that if this did end up as a case that went in front of a judge they would be curious to know if your cousin had over the last several years having suffered in pain seen other doctors to help his back -such as an orthopedic surgeon for a consult, or tried physical therapy.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Good background. Is there more specific info on format for a doc letter? Websites with advice in this area?

No website that I've ever seen, no. I know that if a case is being prepared for a hearing in front of a judge after an initial denial, as well as a denial upon reconsideration, many times firms representing claimants will ask the doctor to fill out what is called a medical source statement. Essentially, these forms ask the doctor to fill out the information that I gave you earlier, things like how long the doctor has been treating the person, what conditions are disabling, and how it impacts them – how far they can walk, how long they can stand, sit, and so forth.

However, there is nothing that says a doctor simply cannot include a letter in the medical records that are submitted that states that in their opinion as the treating physician for X number of years, that the claimant is disabled, unable to do any type of work, and will not be able to do any work in the future.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

what do retired people do when they run out of savings?

what about a 62 year old guy with 80 IQ and bad back?

what social programs are available federally? Any direction for California?

The reality is there aren't a lot of programs out there for people with low income -federal or state. Many elderly in such a situation get social security early if they can, and/or have small pensions. Some live in Section 8 housing, some live with relatives, and sadly, I've met more than I would have liked handling social security disability claims of seniors who have no income who are homeless.

If he needs housing assistance, he should look into public housing or housing vouchers (Section 8) housing which is low income. If you scroll down that page, there is also a link for people who need assistance with utilities. He should look into getting food stamps as well. And, as you said he had prior work history, he should call social security and see if he can take social security early at 62, versus waiting until he is 65. He would receive less than he would by waiting (they should be able to tell him how much) but since it sounds like this is something badly needed, it's probably worth it.

Also, if he is disabled due to mental and/or physical impairments, then he needs to file for SSDI and SSI. The burden would be on him to demonstrate that these are severe impairments, expected to last at least 12 months or longer, and that they prevent him from doing any work on a full time basis. Around 60% of applicants are initially denied when they apply, however, so it may be that he has to go through the process of seeking reconsideration of the denial, and then if denied again, asking for a hearing. As I mentioned -that can take a year or longer, and there is no guarantee in the end that a judge will approve him. There are social security disability firms that can help him and they do not charge up front fees -rather, if he wins, then they take a portion of the back pay awarded to him.

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