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Legalease
Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  15 years exp all aspects of general law
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I have been receiving disability benefits because of two total

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I have been receiving disability benefits because of two total knee replacements of my LEFT knee within 18 months of each other. From the first replacement, I developed blood clots and lymphedema. I applied for, and received, disability status and have also tried to continue to do some work because I am struggling financially as it is. I am a widow, and my daughter and son-in-law live with me - they lost their business and their house. I am trying to help them, and myself as well. My medical bills, after two insurances, are still staggering. Lymphedema is a "no-cure" condition that is exacerbated by standing, walking, etc. I am a church organist which takes approximately 2 1/2 hours a week and does not involve much standing. I even have a "smart recorder" on my Allen digital organ which allows me to play cds which have recorded hymns, voluntaries, Christmas music, wedding music, etc. I also work at the Chamber of Commerce at the volunteer information desk, fielding questions from visitors, and opening and locking the center when called upon - still more sitting. I was employed as a clerk in the retail gift shop, and still sub there sometimes, but don't do any of the stocking/lifting/moving boxes around like the other staff do. I got a letter yesterday stating that 1. I made too much money (which I knew was factoring in the equation), and that according to the SSA, I didn't even qualify for benefits. I would like to know what my next step should be. My supervisors at both the Chamber and the church have filled out forms for SSA describing how they modified the job descriptions to fit my infirmity. Please help.

Hello there

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There are two types of social security disability that a disabled person can receive -- (a) Supplemental Security Income - SSI for short, which is for low income persons who did not have enough of a work history to qualify for regular Social Security Disability benefits, and (b) Social Security Disability benefits which are based on your work history if you had put in enough years working you can apply for disability benefits based upon the amount that you earned. In either case, any work that you do must be known to and approved by Social Security beforehand because they see the case as the recipient is unable to perform any work. In SSI cases, the recipient is generally not permitted to work at all without having benefits cut because it is based completely on the fact that the person is low income and disabled and in SSD cases SSA will approve short trial work periods to see how a person handles the work but if it is shown that you can work part time then the benefits will be cut by that full amount of earnings. When I handle either type of social security disability application, I generally tell my clients that they are simply better off not working at all because it creates all types of problems and generally (a) cuts the social security benefits on a dollar for dollar basis and (b) eventually makes their condition worse. I absolutely agree with you that it is more honorable to try to work for a living even if you can only do a few things -- but with the government programs it is generally all or nothing unless they pre approve you for a work program first. My suggestion here is to appeal any determination made by social security to cut your benefits and as part of the appeal you should make it clear that you can only work a few hours a week at best (get doctor confirmation that they would prefer that you do NOT work but if you do it should only be for a few hours a week) and ask social security to work with you so that you can work the few hours and still receive benefits. Your benefits will most likely be cut somewhat for a while but at least now you are aware of the requirements and you can start working within the requirements which is better than not knowing and being cut off from benefits completely for a long time.

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Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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MARY

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