Applying for Social Security Disability . . . Question

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by TerriM, Apr 16, 2003.

  1. TerriM

    TerriM New Member

    Hi Everyone! I am finally at the stage to apply for Social Security Disability. I was misinformed before by an attorney who said since I had LTD Insurance through my company (that insurance company refuses to pay me because they say it isn't a "firm" diagnosis) that I had to go through the process of trying to get LTD before I could apply for Social Security Disability. This is completely not the case . . . two separate issues . . . LTD is just a side benefit we pay for (that is what I had thought before)Things just weren't moving at all, so I called an attorney who specializes in CFS/FM cases. I have been completely unemployed for just over a year, so now if the perfect time they said to apply for SSDI because you have to have not worked for 12 months. I am using that attorney and for social security & they gave me referrals for three attorneys in my area that specialize in LTD disability. A couple of questions for those of you who have applied and/or won SSDI or LTD cases . . .

    1. How did you apply for SSDI? I see you can apply in person (but if you don't look outwardly sick this may not be a good idea) By telephone or now they have it via the Internet also. I was thinking of doing the internet application and mailing it in but need to investigate further . . . I know they want medical records, birth certificate, etc. etc. Not sure exactly how that works if you apply online. Anyone have advice on the pros and cons of which way to apply . . . or what worked well for them?

    2. Re: hiring a LTD attorney. I am not sure which of the three to pick. Any advice on questions? I know fees are fixed with SSDI, but I guess my first question is if they charge on a contingency basis. Are they familiar with CFS cases (since the CFS SSDI attorney referred them I would think so) . . . I feel kind of dumb, I was in a very professional job and should figure this out, but being sick I just don't want to miss asking the right questions & I've never had to hire an attorney before . . . SSDI is more straightforward than LTD. The first attorney was my husband's friend and was trying to help out, but he is a criminal litigator & I know I need a disability expert. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated from people who have been there :)

    Thank in advance for any guidance you can give! Love, Terri
  2. jstbrznby

    jstbrznby New Member

    Hi Terri, You are about to embark on a jouney for sure but be strong because YOU can win this thing. Seems as though everyone is a little different but the bottom line remains the same.....Don't trust anybody linked to SSDI, Your Dr. should be your best friend in this, if you have his support you are already in the game, support, get all of it you can. Unfortunatly, friends and family sometimes don't understand what this is like and it is hard for them to know how to give you support. This isn't much you probably don't already know, but stay with it there is is help out here and I am more than happy to point you in the right direction as far as places here on the internet that you can find the help you need. Just let me know and we can do a chat or go to Yahoo for their instant messenger and we can chat there as well. I am happy for you that you are on the right track, good luck and big >>>>>>HUGS>>>>>>> from me, Pam2
  3. Bellesmom

    Bellesmom New Member

    Even if you apply online they still set up a phone interview for you IF you request it. So I would suggest just calling to start with. At that time they will tell you what you need in hand because in the end it all has to be mailed in anyway.

    I read the info online at the Social Security Administration website but it's really easy to misunderstand. I don't think everyone who works there knows all the rules anyway. But they send you information forms to fill out. It is very generic and sometimes you feel as though what they are asking is not what you had in mind to tell them. My feeling is that they really don't care because I've been asked the same things over and over. I'm not really sure if anyone reads it or not.

    Isn't your attorney helping guide you through this? I am in the 3rd stage of the process - I have been turned down twice for disability. I finally got an atty because I thought it would be helpful but mine isn't that helpful. You need lots of backup medical paperwork (that's called objective) which spells out your problem and that you cannot work as a result of it - even though you say it (that's subjective) or know you cannot work, that is not what they are interested in. They demand proof from medical professionals so you need a doctor who is "on your side." I am still trying to find one.

    So the first step is to call Soc Sec and set up a phone appointment.

    I don't know anything about the LTD. But this will bump your post up and someone else will add to this so hope you get the help you need. This is a long process and you need a lot of ongoing medical visits. Not only do you want help to try to get better but you need regular documentation (they only seem to like medical doctors but I also see a naturopath). Many have suggested that keeping a daily journal on your pain and fatigue experience is beneficial, especially if you don't get approved right away. So that is something you might seriously consider.

    I know that it's easy to forget what you've read here so if someone gives you really good info, try keeping a copy of all of that where you can look back and keep yourself current with what you've learned/done for your claim.

    I know there are many claiming disability currently so you want to be sure to answer all questions from your worst-day scenario. Don't admit to being able to do much of anything or you will disqualify yourself. I'm sure that you would work if you were able so you have to pick your worst day and apply that to all of your paperwork.

    I have a hard time sitting up at the computer for long so I'm sure I forgot half of what I wanted to say but then I don't know much of what you asked (LTD). So - best of everything to you as you start this process and do keep us posted, okay?

    Pam
  4. faith30

    faith30 New Member

    I used an attorney to get SSDI. He won my case. I was turned down on my first application, and on my reconsideration, but won my case at my first hearing. I took my about a year, but my attorney asked to "expedite my case" because of my financial situation. In their decision, they pointed out that the doctor they sent me to stated that "stress from a work environment can exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms and can be disabling." His statement helped me win my case. Although, I do have other illnesses besides FM. I am disabled due to Fibro, Depression, and Dissociative disorder. Good luck on your case!
  5. TerriM

    TerriM New Member

    I appreciate you writing back. I definitely have a dr. on my side . . . have been to a bunch of specialists (15 or so) who have ruled out things, but no one can find the underlying cause . . . I have proof that I have some endocrine problems showing up in the tests (insulin resistance & high cortisol), circumstantial proof that I have neurological issues (strange reactions to drugs & some reflex issues seen by dr.) . . . I have a ton of other symptoms (bad fatigue, dizziness, fevers, swollen glands, get very sick if I try to exercise or do too much in a day), have severe hypersensitivity to all types of things and really bad facial flushing. My pathogen testing has come back with past infections of CMV & Mycoplasma Pneumoniae (but they were IgG and the PCR's were negative). I guess, though, once you have CMV you have it in your body forever. I have a great endocrinologist who knows I'm very sick and is trying desperately to help me find the bottom-line. He confirms I have CFS, but he says we need to keep looking to see what is underlying. He will definitely give me the diagnosis with disability (I asked point blank & he confirmed). They have found a terrible sinus infection caused by a structural issue that an immunologist believes is causing my underlying issues (I had surgery & two weeks later got very sick with CFS . . . it took a year for me to find out I had CFS & it has been 19 months total now). They think the tubing placed in my nose introduced a pathogen that caused an already chronic sinus issue to blow out of proportion (the immunologist has been at Vanderbilt since 1968 & said he's never seen a sinus issue this bad before . . . ). A sinus specialist confirmed this & says it has to be fixed with surgery, but I cannot have the surgery now due to hypersensitivity . . . so, my endo. is going through a checklist ruling out other things . . . if we find nothing else I will have to be medicated to get my immune system under control & have the surgery. However, he doesn't want me on meds until then so as not to skew the test results.

    Actually, the SSDI attorney said I have to have filed with SSDI before we talk . . . I am to do that and then we have a consult scheduled. I am still not exactly sure what I should ask the LTD attorney's to decide on one . . . if anyone has advice, please let me know! Thanks!! Terri
  6. TerriM

    TerriM New Member

    I should have also said that I have been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome by a geneticist (EDS has been linked to CFS), but there is no confirming diagnostic testing . . . it is via physical exam . . . Terri

    p.s. I said thanks to the Pams and while I was writing someone else responded . . . Thanks to everyone!!!!
  7. kckitty

    kckitty New Member

    I didnt read the prev messages but you cant apply for long term dis if you havent also appled mfor short term first-at least in Kansas you cant-get a lawyer before you fill anything out-get the forms and get a lawyer that specializes in both-you will probaly have to get 2 sepate lawyers- I do know that my lawyer for short and long term disability will take 30% of what I get if I do-I wish I had gobe to him before I filled everything out-same with social security-I went to a lwyer and we went over the forms and I filled them out and then he went over them before I mailed it in-they know what ssi and ltd look for- I barley focused on the fibro part-you need top focus on the depression part0I go to a shrink just to get my meds so she is al;so good about talking about being depressed-despite being recognized the arthritis foundation- dont focus on the fibro-focus on your depressiona nd the pain and how it totally affects your life-my lawyer said when you fill oput the forms act like its your worst day ever with fibro.
    hope this helps.
  8. TerriM

    TerriM New Member

    I don't have fibro, I have CFS. Also, I was paid 6 months of short term disability, so I don't have to do anything about that. Yes, I already am getting two separate lawyers. Although I am a little uncomfortable about the fact that I'm using a CFS expert lawyer for SSDI & his office told me to fill out and send in the paperwork first then he will talk with me???? Seems odd to me . . . I want advice on filling it out! Anyway, I then have a list of three attorney's in my area (from him) that handle CFS disability cases for LTD . . . will call them, but looking for advice on what I need to ask them up front. I have a friend that I see this weekend that I'm going to talk about this issue with also. I have all of my medical records totally organized anda dr. that is backing me up . . . Thanks! Terri
  9. beckster

    beckster New Member

    see my March 10 posts about SSD. Keep a copy of everything.
    If you send anything by mail be sure to use return-receipt.
    Be sure the doc at Vanderbilt since l968 says in plain English on paper what he tells you in person (that you are the worst case). Don't mean to freak you out (god, i was so naive at the time) but when I went through this I had a couple docs tell me one thing to my face and found out later (after the first phase) that they actually said something quite different on paper. Let docs know you want copies of everything (I think, not sure, we have this right.) What else? I had one friend who didn't want to be seen (because he looked normal) but with the new rulings (see my March 10 posts) don't know if this is currently as important?

    Keep asking for different experiences and advice.

    If you can get someone to put on paper that you can NOT CURRENTLY have surgery get that too. Other wise they might postulate you just need surgery and your are fixed (or at least rationalize as such).

    I'm sure there's more but too tired at the moment. Don't get discouraged; don't take anything personally. It is a bureaucratic process, overworked underpaid, etc. It is hit and miss. I have seen people near death (with another disease) who had an awful time and have seen people much less ill who would skate through it. You will prevail in the end. All for now, the Beckster
  10. Kathryn

    Kathryn New Member

    It is a long, dark tunnel, but the light at the other end is not always a train. I just got my SSDI, 1st go around, no attorney, so it CAN be done. I know I am not the only one. Go up to "search messages"at the top of the page, and type in "SSDI", "Disability", "Social Security", or whatever else seems appropriate. Read all the communications and make notes on anything that is applicable to your situation. Plagiarize if something sounds especially good. Who is going to read it besides the goons at SS? Go to the home page and find "Disability". You will pull up at least a gazillion good articles there. Pay close attention to anything written by an attorney named Scott Davis. He is GOOD!!!! Then go to your favorite search engine (Google?) and type in "Fibromyalgia & Disability" or any combination that sounds good. Filling out your application is going to become a full time job. I wrote everything in a spiral notebook and transferred what I decided on to my application. Photocopy EVERYTHING that you send them. You do not want to confuse them with different answers to similar questions. When the packet of forms for friends and neighbors arrives, have some suggested answers ready for your friends to copy. My neighbor was going to actually write "Fine" or "No problem" to every question until I blew a gasket. This can be done and, if you don't need it now, by the time you finish with them, you will. Good luck!
    Kathryn
  11. TerriM

    TerriM New Member

    for all the great info. I had planned to do some searching . . . have already read several articles. Scott Davis is the attorney that I'm using. I have CFS, not Fibro so will do some searching on that . . . THANKS!!!! Love, Terri