Would I eligible for SSD if I file now since I was disabled at the time I stopped working?


I stopped working in 1989 due to overwhelming back pain from a 1983 auto accident. I had won a personal injury case in 1988. The jury found that I had a severe and permanent injury. In 1992, I was diagnosed with asthma and chronic sinusitis and began to have symptoms of CFS and FM. To add to my disability from my back, I became even more disabled from CFS and FM. At that time, CFS and FM were poo-pooed as legitimate illnesses plus none of my doctors knew what was wrong with me. I did not go back to work due to my back pain and my decline due to CFS and FM. I did not apply for SSD due to the fact that I was married; my husband had a high income and I, therefore, didn't need the income. In 2000, I was finally, officially, diagnosed with CFS and FM.

In 1998, my husband filed for divorce. We were officially divorced in 2000. He was required to pay maintenance for a number of years but it is no longer enough to live on and I have not been able to return to work since 1989.

I am 61 years old. Would I eligible for SSD if I file now since I was disabled at the time I stopped working? I don't think I would be eligible for SSI since I do have assets.

Second question: I understand that I would be able to collect 1/2 of the SS retirement amount that my ex husband is entitled to since we were married more than 10 years. It will be much more than I am entitled to. I am 5 years older than he. Would I be able to collect 1/2 of the amount he is entitled to on the date that I become eligible for SS retirement or would I have to wait until he is eligible at the time he reaches 62 or would I have to wait until he actually files for his SS retirement? If he waits until 66, I will probably have one foot in the grave.

Thank you for any help you can give me and thank you so much for providing this service.

With regard to Social Security Disability, you may be able to file for disability benefits (see When should you File?). If you have never filed for disability then you may can file a claim.

You will have to provide medical information back to the date you were last insured for disability. if you stopped work in 1989, I would guess your date last insured would be 1993 or 1994. Most doctors destroy their records every so many years, so the burden of providing information would most likely be on you.

Additionally, you have one chance to file for Social Security Disability, so if you are denied you should appeal that decision all the way to the level of an ALJ or administrative law judge. I would also suggest that you obtain the services of a competent Social Security representative. They will file your appeals for you and they will represent you should you have to go to a disability hearing. They cannot charge an upfront fee or retainer. They are entitled to a fee that is 21% of any back payment of benefits up to $6000.00.

Disability claims with representation are substantially more likely to be approved than disability claims presented by the claimant themselves. Since you only have one chance, I would think you would want the best chance of being approved.

Now, as for retirement benefits on your ex-spouses record, you can receive divorce spouse benefits once your ex-spouse is 62 even if he does not file for benefits. Since you are five years older than he is, you will be able to file on his record when you are 67 years old. You are entitled to receive your own at 62 then when you are able to file on his record the amount will increase.

I hope this information helps you.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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