Applications for Social Security Disability and Unemployment

As I've mentioned many times before, some employees who have a longstanding history with an employer find a certain level of accomodation for their physical and/or mental impairments. That accomodation can disappear in tougher economic times, and may never materialize again for the worker who loses their job and is in the position of having to seek employment with a new employer who has no history with them and no rationale or motivation for accomodating them.

In many other instances, of course, individuals who have had a job for a protracted length of time may have the skill (meaning they know their job inside and out, and like the back of their hand) and determination to work around their infirmities even as those infirmities get worse over time, simply for the sake of staying on the job (and I say "simply" with many grains of salt: few people wish to give up their job and enter into the uncharted territory of "disability" and filing for benefits).

However, losing that job becomes a game-changer because the chances of finding new employment, especially a new type of job function, becomes much more difficult when one presents with an impairment or impairments, and even more difficult when one presents as an older worker.

As a disability examiner, a case worker, and in working in claimant representation, I've found that many prospective commentators simply do not think these issues through and very casually conclude that if a person was able to do their job satisfactorily and then subsequently lost their job because their position was eliminated or because the company went under...then they should be able to find new employment just like that.

That was simply never the case for individuals with physical and mental impairments. For these individuals, losing a long-held job can often mean becoming practically unemployable. And its not rocket science in trying to figure out why.

1) Job skills become outdated and/or less transferable (I know one COBOL programmer who works for state government who would have a tough time finding new work if he got laid off given the fact that his coding skills are 20 plus years out of date, though they are in-date for the needs of his current employer).

2. Employers, whether they deny the practice or not, frequently discriminate against employees who show signs of an impairment (easy enough to understand why given the rising cost of health insurance premiums and workers compensation insurance premiums).

3. Employers, whether they deny the practice or not, frequently discriminate against older workers (for the same reasons as noted in number 2).

Now, what is the point of blogging about all this? Simply to point out that if you were working despite having a significant impairment, you may wish to consider filing for disability IMMEDIATELY.

You may have been the sort of individual who resisted filing a claim for many years. And you may still be opposed to the mere idea of doing this. My own spouse is a social security field office claims rep who takes retirement and disability claims and she can attest to the fact that many individuals who file for disability do so far later than they really should have because they mentally resisted the idea of "throwing in the towel". But as long as the disability claim process can seriously take, you can do yourself a disservice by not getting your claim "in the pipeline".

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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