Anyone with FM successful in getting Disability?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by CatsKimber, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. CatsKimber

    CatsKimber New Member

    I'm in so much pain I don't think I can continue working, but... I have a son I have to provide for. I've heard it's hard getting Disability. I would think with something like FM it's even harder, since there's no "proof". Has anyone been able to get Disability due to their Fibromyalgia?

    Thanks!
  2. 69mach1

    69mach1 New Member

    i was just approved on the initial phase. still waiting for the letter to come in the mail and the money. i files one time beofer and that was a battle it took from 1/02-1/5 to get my first check. and there are still some problems going on there.

    but if you have it documented that will help, go to disabilitysecrets.com. that wil help you.

    and i know how hard it is when you a an 11 year old to support and you get struck it happened to me and i was go through divorce like you same age son.

    call local attorney's office and tell them you questions. they will give free consult over phone.


    well i got togo i'm sick today been sick since last monday now go to go to dr's.

  3. fibromaster

    fibromaster New Member

    Yes I received aproval for fibromyalgia and depression the first time I applied. You need solid medical documentation. Some websites that can help.
    copy and paste to web browser.

    http://www2.rpa.net/~lrandall/disabled.html

    http://fmaware.org/patient/disability.htm

    http://www.myalgia.com/SSA%20memorandem%20on%20FM.htm

    http://www.gulfwarvets.com/ssa.htm

    http://www.fibromyalgiasupport.com/fibromyalgia-disability.htm

    http://library.findlaw.com/2000/Feb/1/130977.html

    http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/listing-impairments.htm
  4. JLH

    JLH New Member

    First of all, WELCOME to our board/support group!!!!! I read your bio and see that you are new!! Glad that you found us, but not glad that you are in the same shape that we are!

    I see that you are a single mother. Well, unfortunately, if you have nothing to live on but SSDI, you will be living in poverty. Disability does not pay very well!

    I filed for SSDI one year after I retired. I worked for 30 years, but took an early retirement due to my poor health. I was only 48 at time of my retirement.

    I received my SSDI on my first application. I was very fortunate to do this--it normally takes people 2-3 years to get their disability approved.

    I filed on all of my medical problems, not just fibro. I listed every single problem that I had and elaborated on them in great detail on the Social Security forms that I was sent to complete. I have major heart problems, diabetes, systemic lupis, severe arthritis, osteoporosis, obstructive sleep apnea, major back problems, fibro, CFS, and more.

    I read in your bio that you have other ailments in addition to fibro.

    I will copy some examples on how you could elaborate on all of your symptoms, if you want to read them.

    I will also copy a magazine article called the Disability Maze which describes someone with arthritis who want to file for SSDI--it describes how the process works.

    Hope this info will help.

    Hugs,
    Janet
  5. JLH

    JLH New Member

    This is what I used when I helped my sister file for her SSDI.

    It is the answers to three different questions that were on one of the forms that Social Security sent her to complete.

    Your intent is that whenever somebody reads your list of symptoms/illnesses, they will be able to get an overall picture of how poorly you feel and why your body is not able to work on a daily basis!


    NOTE: THIS IS ONE QUESTION ON THE SSDI APPLICATION:

    WHAT ARE ALL YOUR SYMPTOMS CAUSED BY YOUR ILLNESSES, INJURIES, OR CONDITIONS?

    Note: List EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!!!!!!!!!!

    (1) Coughing. Severe coughing attacks that occur all day long as well as all during the night due to COPD.

    (2) Shortness of Breath. Major problem due to asthma compounded by my weight.

    (3) Chest Pains . Due to constant severe coughing attacks.

    (4) Pain. Affected areas are neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands and fingers, lower back, hips, legs, knees, ankles, and feet. Pain is excruciating and incapacitates me.

    (5) Joint Pain. My joints are affected my arthritis which cause s great stiffness and soreness in addition to the pain.

    (6) Muscle Pain. This burning, gnawing, aching, fibromyalgia-type pain affects every muscle in my body.

    (7) Inability to Sleep. Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Trouble breathing while lying in bed. Pain wakes me up when I do finally fall asleep and must toss and turn to find a position not painful. Coughing spells wake me up and keep me awake. Hard to stay awake and concentrate the following day due to not enough quality sleep. I have sleep apnea and sleep with a CPAP machine and oxygen.

    (8) Fatigue and Weakness. Overwhelming and debilitating fatigue due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I don’t know why I feel so weak all of the time, but I feel so weak that it is hard to even raise my arm and I dread even moving.

    (9) Inability to Walk and Stand. Use a wheelchair 90% of the time. Can only walk a few steps at a time and can not stand more than 5 minutes at a time.

    (10) Cognitive Dysfunction. Inability to concentrate. Trouble with short-term and long-term memory. Head feels so fuzzy all of the time that I cannot drive many times—brain feels as fatigued as my body.

    (11) Depression.

    (12) Anxiety.

    (13) Urinary Incontinence. Daily spasms and irritability causing urinary urgency and extreme incontinence.

    (14) Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Constant diarrhea and constipation.

    (15) Headaches. Experience chronic tension and “sick” headaches, with vomiting.

    (16) TMJ in Jaw. Pain in jaws as well as cramps, dizziness, and pain in the TMJ joint.

    (17) Circulatory Sensitivity to Temperature and Moisture. Hands, arms, feet, legs, and face tingle and become numb, like in Raynauds Syndrome and Neuropathy.

    (18) Hearing Loss.

    (19) Morbid Obesity.

    (20) Acid Reflux. Constant heartburn, stomach burning, and nausea due to GERD.

    *****************

    NOTE: THIS IS ANOTHER QUESTION ON THE SSDI APPLICATION:

    DESCRIBE IN YOUR OWN WORDS WHAT EACH OF YOUR SYMPTOMS FEELS LIKE:

    Note: See that this is the same info as above; however, you just have to describe in more detail how each of these symptoms make you feel:

    (1) Coughing. The severe coughing attacks occur all day long as well as all during the night due to COPD. The cough is so uncontrollably violent that I can not catch my breath, not mention to talk. I feel like I am suffocating and can not get any air and that I am going to die if I cannot catch a breath immediately. Coughing so much causes terrible chest pains and leaves my chest painful for hours after the coughing spell. The coughing spells also cause dizziness, a flushed feeling that overwhelms me with heat and severe perspiration, followed by a feeling of extreme weakness. Then, another attack occurs. The cycle just keeps repeating itself. I have been out in public where I have coughed so hard that I vomited. (The change in temperatures from inside to outside, to the car, etc., always results in a coughing fit that lasts up to 15 minutes. Every cough results in urine leakage, or more than just a leak, and passing of gas, which are discussed below.) I have been diagnosed with COPD.

    (2) Shortness of Breath. The shortness of breath causes many of the same feelings as the coughing does--I feel like I am suffocating and can not get any air and that I am going to die if I cannot catch a breath immediately. The shortness of breath always happens during and following a coughing spell. In addition to COPD, I have also been diagnosed with Asthma. After any exertion, I am out of breath. The feeling of helplessness is overwhelming when I am unable to breathe and feel like I just took my last breath. My weight also contributed to my shortness of breath. I currently weigh 360 lbs. and carry a lot of weight in my chest and stomach creating difficulty in breathing.

    (3) Chest Pains . As described above, my chronic coughing causes me terrible chest pains and leaves my chest painful for hours after the coughing spell. The chest pains are so painful that my doctor had me take numerous heart tests as well undergo a heart catherization for him to be certain that the chest pains were as a result of the chronic coughing and not from a heart problem.

    (4) Pain. Affected areas are neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands and fingers, lower back, hips, legs, knees, ankles, and feet. Pain is excruciating and incapacitates me. My pain level is intolerable at times. I hurt so badly that I cry many times a day. My hands and wrists hurt so badly that I can’t even peel potatoes or thread a needle. I used to be good at using a ten-key calculator-— can't even do that now. My arms and shoulders hurt to terribly that I can’t hold a hair dryer to dry my hair, let alone try to use a curling iron. I can’t hold my arms up long enough to change a light bulb in my house. (Bad example, because I can’t change a light bulb anyway, because I can not get up on a stool and stand up long enough.) I stay in a wheelchair about 90% of the time. Wheeling myself around the house worsens the pain in my hands, arms, and shoulders. I am in constant pain. My lower back causes me so much pain that I can not stand up more than 5 minutes and can not walk more than a few steps. My weight aggravates the pain in my lumbar spine and legs and feet.

    (5) Joint Pain. My joints are affected my arthritis which cause s great stiffness and soreness in addition to the pain. It is hard to move around due to being so stiff and aching in all my joints. Sometimes my fingers and hands are swollen and not easily moveable. Being confined to a wheelchair intensifies the stiffness, soreness, and pain.

    (6) Muscle Pain. I have this deep muscular aching, burning, gnawing, throbbing, shooting, stabbing, fibromyalgia-type pain that hurts every muscle in my body every minute of the day and night.

    (7) Inability to Sleep. I feel like I have been run over by a Mack truck or a semi all of the time. This feeling comes from a combination of my symptoms—the inability to obtain quality sleep as well as my constant fatigue, weakness, and pain. I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, as well as trouble breathing while lying in bed. Pain wakes me up when I do finally fall asleep and I must continually toss and turn to find a position where a part of my body is not in pain. Coughing spells also wake me up and keep me awake. I have to continually get up to go to the bathroom. I find it hard to stay awake and concentrate the following day due to not enough quality sleep—my head always feels “spacey” and fuzzy—and my eyes burn. I have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and sleep with a CPAP machine and oxygen.

    (8) Fatigue and Weakness. I feel like the fatigue has sucked the entire life out of my body. It is overwhelming and debilitating. I feel like I do not have enough energy or strength to stand up or walk even if I could do that without pain. I have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

    (9) Inability to Walk and Stand. I use a wheelchair 90% of the time. Can only walk a few steps at a time and can not stand more than 5 minutes at a time. How does this symptom make me feel? Awful. I can’t walk and stand due to a combination of my problems-—the pain in my low back; the pain in my legs, knees, and feet; and my weight. One of the reasons that I have to use a wheelchair is pain, and then using the wheelchair causes more pain (in my upper body and stiffness/soreness). This inability of walking and standing on my feet also adds to my depression and anxiety. I feel like I am trapped in my home.

    (10) Cognitive Dysfunction. I can not concentrate on anything. I have trouble with short-term and long-term memory. I go into a room to get something and can’t remember why I went into that room. My head feels so fuzzy all of the time that I cannot drive many times—my brain feels as fatigued as my body. I feel dizzy and lightheaded a lot due to lack of quality sleep.

    (11) Depression. I don’t like being depressed. But I can’t help myself. I can’t seem to overcome these feelings. I am physically and mentally not able to work. This has created quite a financial burden for my family and me. The amount of pain that I must tolerate each day depresses me, as does my problem with urinary incontinence. Not being able to go anywhere because of the urinary urgency, leakage, and worry about an offending odor is depressing. When you have urgency and are unable to move quickly, like I am, is a problem. Waking up every day after not being able to sleep, not being able to quit coughing long enough to breathe, to overcome the feeling that you can die when you can’t breathe, and the feeling of hopelessness is depressing. Having to continually ask my family and friends to help me do things, to help cook for me, to take me places, to clean my house, and to help me financially is depressing. Being extremely overweight is more than just depressing.

    (12) Anxiety. The feelings of anxiety make me feel like those that make me depressed. I hate to go the grocery store because I am afraid of dropping things before I get them in my basket. My hands and arms are so weak at times, that I drop a lot of stuff. (I also have been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that probably contributes to the wrist/arm weakness.) I am also afraid that I might have a problem with my urinary incontinence, not be able to make it to a public restroom in time, and end up wetting myself. The embarrassment and humiliation would be too much for me to bear. I get overly anxious about what people will think about me due to my size. I am so afraid of snide comments, jokes, stares, etc. that I sometimes get afraid to leave my house and/or answer my door. Also contributing to my anxiety is my inability to be able to work and provide for my family as well as the financial burdens it has placed on my family and me. I have had to sell most all of my possessions. My quality of life is going downhill fast. My level of anxiety seriously limits my daily activities.

    (13) Urinary Incontinence. I have daily spasms and bladder irritability causing urinary urgency and extreme incontinence. This makes me very depressed and adds to my level of anxiety as explained above. In addition to the financial burden already upon me by not being physically and mentally able to work, the cost of products for my incontinence (feminine pads and diapers) is astronomical. I have had surgery and done exercises, but neither has helped. When I was in the workplace, urinary incontinence is a most distressing, embarrassing, and humiliating problem. It’s nearly impossible to wait for the scheduled break times in any job I’ve had for the last several years. I’ve had accidents on the upholstered chairs at my workstations, and, in a previous position, I was certain that it played a factor in my lay-off. I wear a urinary pad at all times and a diaper when I go to bed. During my last two years without being able to work and receiving only $305.00 a month from welfare, I’m forced to not to leave my home for this reason as well, because I had no money to get pads or diapers. I can not begin to describe the horror this condition played on me when I had each knee replaced. I don’t visit family or friends, eat out, or even drive 80 minutes to see my own daughter for I know I can’t make it there. I don’t have company because my furniture and bed constantly smell of urine. I’ve had three bladder surgeries, even stapled it to my spine to no avail. I’ve begged my doctor just to catheter me for good but they say diapers are my best bet. I’m sure they can afford that – I cannot. Most depressing is that I fear intimacy and the companionship of a man, so I have no sex life whatsoever. In addition, wearing a pad 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and sitting in a wet pad has produced skin irritations that I have to continually treat and have even had to have an abscess surgically removed.

    (14) Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I have chronic diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain, abdominal gas, and nausea. These problems combined with my urinary incontinence make it extremely hard for me to leave my house. I can not move well, or quickly, and it is hard to find a public restroom at the exact minute that I need one.

    (15) Headaches. I have recurrent migraine and tension-type headaches. I have a headache at least three days a week. I get headaches that seem like the come straight up my back, between my shoulder blades, and neck. They make my neck and the back of my head hurt so extremely bad that I think my head is going to explode. Many of the headaches that I get are the “sick” headaches that have me vomiting. I must stay in bed in a dark, quiet room to get rid of them. The light, noise, and movement make me sick.

    (16) TMJ in Jaw. I feel pain in my jaws (in the joint under my ears) when I eat and open my mouth wide. I also experience dizziness at times.

    (17) Circulatory Sensitivity to Temperature and Moisture. Hands, arms, feet, legs, and face tingle and become numb, like in Raynauds Syndrome and Neuropathy.

    (18) Hearing Loss. I have experienced a hearing loss and have problems hearing what people tell me. I ask people to repeat what they have said so many times, that it is embarrassing Then, after they repeat what they said, I can’t remember what they said to do.

    (19) Morbid Obesity. I currently weigh 360 lbs. and carry a lot of weight in my chest and stomach creating difficulty in breathing. My weight also puts a burden on my frame and artificial knees which causes severe back, hip, leg, and feet pain. It is extremely painful for me to stand on my feet to transfer from my wheelchair to my walker to get to places in my house where the wheelchair will no go (like the bathroom). In order to cook, I must transfer to a 4-foot stool so that I can reach the stove (my wheelchair is to low). It is hard to contain my excess weight and balance on a stool, and painful for my back to try to climb on to the stool. It is hard to go out in a public place and find seating and other accommodations to fit my frame.

    (20) Acid Reflux. Although GERD (acid reflux) is not disabling by itself, it causes me great discomfort and contributes to my stress level. If I do not take my medication prescribed for this problem, I have constant heartburn, stomach burning, and nausea.


  6. JLH

    JLH New Member

    Note: this article is about someone with arthritis applying for disability. The same can be applied to fibromyalgia or CFS.


    The Disability Maze
    by Amy Brayfield

    Disability cases are won and lost on the strength of the application. We'll help you through the process, step-by-step.

    Shawn Sluder knew it wasn't going to be easy to give up her job. She'd been an executive assistant for almost 10 years and loved the busy pace and constant multi-tasking her work required. But Sluder, 38, who has lupus and fibromyalgia, found herself struggling more and more to get her job done.

    After six months of collapsing onto her couch at night, running through all her time off and more than one breakdown in the office bathroom, Sluder had to accept the fact she couldn't keep doing her job. She took her doctor's advice and filed for disability. Four months later, she was denied.

    "As frustrating and embarrassing as it is to have to file for disability, it's about 10 times worse to have your claim denied," says Sluder. Almost 24 months after her initial application, Sluder is still fighting her way through the Social Security Administration (SSA)'s appeals process.

    She isn't alone. Of the approximately 1.5 million Americans who file for disability benefits every year, 65 percent are denied on their first try. Even people who aren't rejected often feel confused and overwhelmed by the process, which seems arcane at best and tortuous at worst. For people like Sluder, the system can seem designed specifically to batter their already fragile emotions, making a difficult situation even worse.

    "There have definitely been times when I feel like the SSA thinks I'm just trying to get a free ride," says Sluder.
    There's no magic spell to make applying for disability benefits suddenly easy, but you can reduce your frustration - and maybe even increase your chances of getting a fast approval - by understanding the process before you apply, says Bob Keck, an attorney with the national disability advocacy firm Allsup Inc.



    Alphabet Soup

    Scanning your disability application may bring on a headache as you try to make sense of the myriad forms with their alphabet soup of options. Is the Disability Report the same as the Symptom Questionnaire? What remarks go in section 9? And does the SSA really think you can finish this paperwork in the half-hour estimated completion time named on the application?

    The answer to that last question, at least, is no, says R.M. Bottger, a former Social Security disability specialist. "We used to joke that anybody who could actually fill out that disability report in half an hour automatically didn't qualify for disability," says Bottger.

    The application can be intimidating, but it's important, says Keck, who encourages his clients to focus most of their energy on the Disability Report. "The SSA uses the information in your application to evaluate your case at every stage of the process. Even on appeal, they'll compare the testimony you give on appeal to that first application."

    For someone with arthritis, the application can be even more important, says Bottger, because of the variation in arthritis symptoms. "Every case is different, but you have a pretty good upfront understanding of what limitations a person in a wheelchair has. Arthritis is different -- there's no 'basic' effect of arthritis. The burden is on the applicant to show that his arthritis is disabling."
    This may be why the application for disability is such a dichotomy: on one hand, a just-the-facts, fill-in-the-blanks form; on the other, a personal and infinitely variable story of the effects of arthritis on your life. It's important to keep both aspects in mind when you're filling out your application, says Keck.

    The emotional component is often most difficult. Most people with arthritis focus on staying positive, but working on your disability application means focusing on the things you can't do. Be too stoic or Pollyanna-ish, and your case manager won't have all the information she needs to evaluate your case.

    "I think that's where I went wrong," Sluder says. "I spent so much time trying to figure out how to keep doing things that I didn't want to say I couldn't do something."

    People like Sluder who've adapted their routines because of arthritis may no longer even notice the accommodations they've had to make. Keck recommends inviting a friend to watch you do a few household chores. "Seeing how your arthritis affects one task, it's easier for you to see the accommodations you make in other tasks, too," he says.

    It can be emotionally taxing to spend a lot of time dwelling on your limitations. Try not to work on your application for more than a few hours at a time -- it's OK if it takes you a week or so to complete it - and keep in mind the reason you're going through the process at all is to get the support you need to live a better, healthier life.



    Inside the Application

    Bottger and Keck agree that the part of your application that deserves the most attention is the Disability Report, a 16-page, nine-section form in which you describe your arthritis (or other illnesses), its symptoms and effects on your work."

    When I denied an application, it was because it lacked compelling medical or vocational evidence. The disability report is where you can give that information," says Bottger.

    The secret to success is simply knowing what information your SSA representative is really looking for in each section, says Keck. We asked our experts to take us through the Disability Report, section by section, to help you make the most of your application.



    Section 1 -- Information About the Disabled Person

    Why they're asking: The SSA needs this basic information -- your address, Social Security number, etc. -- to contact you and request case information. The SSA also uses it to see if you qualify for special programs based on your age or weight.

    What you should know: This section asks you to provide a personal, or non-work, reference familiar with your condition. Think carefully about who you choose, says Keck. The best choice is someone who's seen the impact of arthritis (or your other illnesses) on your life and who is close enough to share your struggles with. It's OK to pick a family member. Give the person you choose a heads-up that the SSA may contact her about your case, says Keck.


    Section 2 -- Your Illness, Injuries or Conditions and How They Affect You

    Why they're asking: The SSA needs to understand two things to evaluate your case: what your condition is, and how it affects your ability to work. This section connects the two.
    What you should know: Both Keck and Bottger recommend answering this important section last.

    The key here, says Keck, is to break down your job, task by task, to explaining how your condition limits your ability to do it. Say you're a customer service representative, and part of your job is filing order records. To do this, you must label folders; kneel, reach, bend and stoop to file; occasionally carry 10- to 15-pound boxes of file folders to restock your supply; etc. Break down each task into its specific components, then explain how arthritis (or your other illnesses) makes each one a challenge: kneeling, reaching, bending and stooping are painful because, for example, osteoarthritis (OA) in your hips and knees makes bending at the knees and waist difficult. Do this for every task.


    Section 3 -- Information About Your Work

    Why they're asking: Knowing what tasks your job regularly requires helps the SSA decide how your arthritis (or other illnesses) affects your ability to do that job.
    What you should know: Remember your job title doesn't necessarily reflect your actual responsibilities, says Keck. One insurance customer service representative may do little more than field incoming calls; another might stock office supplies, visit claim sites and do the office filing. Explain the specific responsibilities of your position. Keep in mind, too, that the more specialized your position, the more likely it is your representative might believe you can continue working -- in another position, says Bottger. If your job is highly specialized, highlight its more universal facets, such as sitting, standing, walking, carrying, bending, and so on.


    Section 4 -- Information About Your Medical Records

    Why they're asking: You can provide copies of your medical records, but the SSA requests its own copies from your doctors, using the information in this section.
    What you should know: Make sure all the information is correct so your application doesn't get delayed, says Bottger. He also recommends writing in each doctor's specialty on the space beside his name, even though the application doesn't ask for it.


    Section 5 -- Medications

    Why they're asking: Before granting disability, the SSA confirms you've tried medical intervention.
    What you should know: List your current meds, plus all medications you've tried, whether they worked or not, says Keck.


    Section 6 -- Tests

    Why they're asking: The SSA looks for a test to confirm your diagnosis - for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it's usually a blood test; for OA, an X-ray.
    What you should know: If you have a form of arthritis, such a fibromyalgia, that doesn't have an accepted diagnostic test, make sure your medical records include tests to support your condition's symptoms, says Bottger. The presence of several symptoms that aren't debilitating on their own can be considered debilitating when they co-exist.


    Section 7 -- Educational/Training Information

    Why they're asking: Understanding your education and professional experience helps the SSA determine other jobs you might be able to do.
    What you should know: This section is important for borderline applications, says Bottger. The more specialized your experience, the less likely it is that the SSA will recommend you try another form of employment before reapplying.


    Section 8 -- Vocational Rehabilitation, Employment or Other
    Support Services Information

    Why they're asking: The SSA considers what steps you've tried to continue working.
    What you should know: The younger you are, the harder it is to prove you can't work at any job, says Bottger. People younger than 55 must show that they can't work even at a mostly sedentary job. Participating in a vocational rehab program can show the SSA how your limitations really do impair your ability to work at any job. And -- of course -- there's always the chance that a rehab program might be able to help you find a job you can actually do.


    Section 9 -- Remarks

    Why they're asking: As big as the application is, you might run out of room on some sections. Section 9 lets you continue information from other sections.
    What you should know: Many people find they need more space to list their medications and on-the-job challenges than the form provides, and it's better to continue in section nine than to leave out important information.


    The Aftermath

    Most disability applications are determined within five months. If your claim is denied, you may start the process over by appealing for reconsideration. If it's accepted, you may wonder, "What's next?"

    Filing for disability can be so time-consuming and emotionally draining that you don't have time to deal with the implications of not working. In a society where people define themselves by their careers and many view "disability" and "laziness" as synonyms, it's hard to cope with the personal and social pressures of being unemployed. No wonder 40 percent of people report feeling depressed after being awarded disability benefits.
    Sheryl Cohen-Alexander, 48, who applied for disability in 1990, wasn't prepared for the sadness she felt when her application was accepted. "It finally hit me what being on disability really meant."

    Cohen-Alexander didn't want to sit around feeling sorry for herself. Cohen-Alexander has the right idea, says Keck, who asks his clients to plan for their lives post-disability and to stay active during the application process. "It can consume you if you let it," says Keck. "So don't let it."


    Are You Ready for Disability?

    Ask yourself these questions before you decide to file:

    • Are you working? You must have been unable to work for at least a year or show that you won't be able to work for at least a year before applying for disability. If you earn more than $810 each month, even if you can't work full-time, you're not eligible for benefits.

    • Does your arthritis (or other illnesses) make it impossible for you to do basic job tasks? Your arthritis (or other illnesses) must be severe enough to limit your ability to perform the basic tasks that most jobs require, such as standing, reaching, sitting, carrying and walking.

    • Do your limitations keep you from doing your specific job? If you can continue to do your job, even if you're in pain while you're doing it, you're not eligible for disability benefits.

    • Are there any other jobs you can do? Just because your arthritis (or other illnesses) keeps you from continuing work as, say, a construction foreman, does not automatically mean you can't do a more sedentary job. The SSA will consider your work history, age, education and physical limitations to determine what other work you can perform.

    • Does your diagnosis match the Social Security Administration (SSA)'s medical listing? The SSA's Blue Book lists the criteria for disability for all medical conditions. For rheumatoid arthritis (RA), for example, the Blue Book says applicants must show persistent pain, swelling and limited joint mobility to qualify.


    The Appeals Cycle

    Insider Tip: Apply in Person

    Are You Ready for Disability?

    Only about 35 percent of applicants are APPROVED for disability benefits on their first try. If you're denied, you enter another maze: the appeals process. If your initial application is DENIED, you can file for reconsideration.


    Reconsideration

    Reconsideration is basically just resubmitting your application, but you should take the opportunity to make sure you're being as specific as possible on the sections describing your condition and limitations. Your claim can be APPROVED or DENIED. If it's denied, you can appeal.


    Administrative Judge Law Hearing

    At this local hearing, you can give testimony in person. The judge can APPROVE, Deny or REMAND your case back to reconsideration. If it's denied, you can appeal.


    Appeals Council

    You must appear before the Appeals Council in Falls Church, Va. in person. They can APPROVE, Deny or REMAND your case back to the Administrative JUDGE. If the council denies your claim, you can appeal.


    Federal District Court

    As a last resort, you can appeal outside the SSA's jurisdiction in Federal District Court. This is your final appeal -- if your claim is denied here, you have no more appeal options.



  7. lovethesun

    lovethesun New Member

    WElcome to the board.Hope to see you often.Linda