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Disability Dialogue-- Deciding When to Apply & Coming to Terms with Disability

Last week, we introduced our new blog series—Disability Dialogue. For this series of posts, we spoke to a group of Social Security Disability recipients about their experience with the application process. We thought that these interviews would provide you with realistic expectations, improve your experience, and potentially prepare you to submit your own application for disability benefits.

During our first interview—which you can read here—the claimant expressed frustration with the Social Security Administration and the doctor’s they appointed to examine him. Today’s interview, however, touches upon more personal challenges. Take a look!

Disability Dialogue—A Look into the Social Security Disability Application Process

Today we’ll be speaking with a woman who was approved for benefits with a Compassionate Allowance condition. Overall, it took her about 6 weeks to be approved—though she had to wait the standard 6 months to receive her first check. Here is what she told us—her answers in italics.

  1. What was your overall experience like applying for benefits?

    The experience working with SSA was good. Using the website and making a few calls to the office was easy. They were very friendly toward me. My application was in process during the recent government shutdown, so it may have taken a while longer than I had anticipated.

  2. What were the biggest challenges you faced throughout the process?

    The biggest challenge for me was having to acknowledge that I am disabled. Realizing that I did not have the same energy for work as before and coming to terms with that took me a year. By the time I was ok with my disability I wished that I had started the process sooner. One can always say no to the benefits. This delay is costly in terms of income and future insurance costs such as being eligible for Medicare one full year later. (As long as I stay alive)

  3. What advice do you have for those who are thinking about filing for disability?

    So my advice is apply as soon as you are eligible and then come to terms with being disabled, not the other way around.

Our Thoughts

During this interview, we encountered a topic that isn’t often addressed when discussing Social Security Disability. Generally, we stick to the technicalities of disability benefits, but this disability recipient brought up a good point.

Not all of the challenges that you face will be physical, some will be emotional. It can be very difficult to make the transition from working full time to being unable to work at all. And, as this applicant experienced, it can be difficult to accept.

As soon as you become unable to work you should consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits—especially if you have a condition that is expected to last a full year or longer. This could potentially shorten your wait for benefits and can be useful when determining the amount of back pay you are entitled to.

As for coping with a disability, each person’s experience is different. What might help one person come to terms with an illness or injury may not be the same as what helps another person. If you are disabled, we’d love to know more about the emotional journey you went through or are going through. If you are comfortable sharing this information, please let us know what helped you cope with a disability in the comment section below.


She is absolutely right, no one wants to admit they are disable and will never be a productive part of society again. I have worked full and/or part time my whole life and it surprised me to realize how hard it is to admit that although you aren't able to work, you aren't a 'failure' or a dropout of society. Like she said, it takes about a year to come to terms with this.

Yes it's hard to come to terms that I can't walk as much as I would like. To go check the mail it's challenging. Just to get dressed and put on leg braces and for it to stay in place without falling to my just take a walk with my husband my mobilty has been robbed from me. I can't talk about my disabilty without crying. I have a grandbaby I want to take her to the zoo and park. I am 47 years young and I am an emotional wreck. Coming to terms is difficult. My standing is limited.Driving is difficult taking things for granted I do not. Going to a concert going to CMT festiable is out. Just going to get groceries I can get them with my brace on but when I get home with them I'm done my mobilty won't allow me to stand up or walk my husband has to put things away.I am on an emotional rollercoaster.

Hi Lisa,
I'm sorry to hear about all that! It definitely must be hard to get used to.