Timelines & Frustration Levels

Sometimes, people call just because they are having trouble getting any answers from anyone. They feel like they are missing something.  If that's your situation: fear not.  It's not you. The people at Social Security really are very nice people, trying to do a good job with what they've got to work with.  They do know what they are talking about and I have yet to find someone who was not willing to help the best they could.  Unfortunately, what they are talking about is difficult to translate into normal-English that everybody can understand.  First, it will take about 6 weeks after you file your application either on line or in person for your claim folder to actually reach the desk of a real person.  Second, it will take at least 6 months (in Northern CA) for them to make a decision.  The person who gets it is an Analyst. You can find their name and direct phone number on the letter that came with the questionnaires (called "function reports") they sent you.  That person's job is to get all of the records together, send you questions, send you to doctors if needed etc.  You do need to keep that person updated if new medical conditions develop.  However, all the Analyst can tell you is that your claim is there; what records they have and what they need.  When they have finished reviewing the claim, you will get a notice by mail. And, that's it. Sure, there are other things you can find out, but to do that, you have to be able to speak the lingo - or find someone who can.  Frustrating. Very - but at least you now know that it isn't you.  You're not somehow failing at this - you just don't speak the language so you can't ask the right questions.

There are many factors other than how long you can sit, stand, walk, lift and carry that prevent people from being able to work.  "Vocational Experts" testify about these. Some people have to be very close to a bathroom all the time and need unscheduled breaks.  Some people have problems seeing anything smaller than a 50 cent piece, but their vision is other wise Ok to drive etc.  Some people have terrible skin conditions on their hands that make it very painful to use their hands on a regular basis.  Some people are required by their doctor to raise their feet to waist level.  Some need to take rest breaks while laying down.  A vocational expert will tell the judge that no employer will hire someone with any of those issues. Therefore, even if they can stand for two hours, they still are not employable. 

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