Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by LouiseK, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. LouiseK

    LouiseK New Member

    Hello all,
    You've been so helpful to me in this SSDI application process. I'm down to the wire (actually tonight is the wire). One last question -- I wrote a FOUR page personal statement. Do you think that is just too long? I have read people say things like "don't write a book" and I do know this is the ADD world in which we live but I am trying to give a picture of what my life is like and it takes a little space on the page . . .advice please, is four pages ridiculous??

    I'm so tired from writing them I'm going to hop in a hot shower and check back.

    Thank you again, every one for your support. I actually wrote an entire formal medical report for my MD (princess that she is) and that was a major chore so now I'm just trying to get something down that is a personal view.
    Thanks again. I'll check back.

  2. LouiseK

    LouiseK New Member

    Hello? Anyone?? Thanks.:)
  3. Waynesrhythm

    Waynesrhythm Member

    Hi Louise,

    This is the first post of yours I have seen, so am not familiar with your SS application process.

    Re: your request for feedback on your 4-page personal statement. My best take on this is that the length of your personal statement is not nearly as important as whether it comes across as sincere, honest and credible.

    It sounds as if the length of the statement you ended up with is what you thought it took to convey the above. I say trust yourself on this one.

    Best, Wayne
  4. dulan52

    dulan52 New Member

    Mostly let them see the things you are not able to do.
    I don't mean lie but if you do something then have to lay down and nap for a while put down all the time you spend giving into your ailments.

  5. PVLady

    PVLady New Member

    Have you checked out this website... Below is a exerpt from the site. My brother reviewed this before he filed. He applied last September and was approved in October.

    The more you know ,the better...

    Tip 1: Take everything you are told about your social security disability claim with at least one grain of salt.

    The reason for this is unfortunate and true. Too often, social security disability and ssi claimants are simply given the wrong information.

    One example comes clearly to mind: a woman who contacted Social Security before she applied for disability benefits and was told she could not file an ssdi claim because she was working.

    Obviously, she was given the wrong information. Individuals applying for--and receiving--social security disabililty or ssi benefits are allowed to work as long as their monthly gross earnings are less than the SGA amount for social security disability (substantial gainful activity) amount, which is presently $900.00 per month. (for more information about sga, go to the definitions page)

    Why do mistakes like this, and other kinds of mistakes, happen?

    There are many reasons. In many cases, it is because the person answering the phone at the local Social Security field office (typically, this is a "Service Representative") is not someone who actually works on cases (those workers are called Claims Representatives, or CR's).

    Other times, it is simply due to human error, on the part of the social security office or the claimant. Social security disability and ssi are programs that, in some aspects, are fairly technical and complex. And this complexity more than lends itself to confusion and misunderstandings. And it does not help matters at all that the social security administration does not go out of its way to explain the social security disability process to those who are applying for benefits.

    But, regardless of the reasons why, for the well-being of a Claimant's case (and simply to play it safe), information dispensed by the Social Security Office should never be taken wholly at face-value.

    Therefore, when in doubt, a disability claimant should not hesitate to ask the same question again, or refer the same question to a different worker at the social security office, or to the individual providing representation for the ssd or ssi claim.

    Tip 2: Get copies of your medical records and supply these with your ssd or ssi disability application.

    Whenever possible, a claimant for social security disability (also known as ssd or ssdi) or ssi benefits should obtain copies of their medical records and submit them with their application or appeal.

    There are at least two very good reasons for doing this.

    First, when a disability claim is being handled at the initial or reconsideration level, it is processed by a disability examiner at Disability Determination Services (to learn more about DDS and examiners, go to the definitions page). However, the Disability Examiner at DDS is not always successful in obtaining all the necessary records.

    In fact, it is not unusual for examiners to make decisions on claims when not all of the medical evidence has been obtained. This takes place when the medical evidence that has been received is deemed "sufficient enough" for the purposes of deciding a disability claim.

    It also happens when a disability examiner simply has no success in getting the records from a particular doctor's office, clinic, or hospital (many medical offices receive hundreds of medical records requests each month and this, in part, accounts for those types of delays).

    Second, most of the processing time required to make a decision on a social security disability or ssi case is actually due to waiting on medical records. And this is simple enough to understand. Before a claimant's records are obtained, there is nothing with which to evaluate a social security disability or ssi claim.

    Because the wait for records in most cases will be long, and because DDS examiners are graded according to how fast they process their work, cases "landing" on a disability examiner's desk with all the records attached tend to be the cases that get worked on immediately. From an examiner's point of view, cases that arrive with the medical records are looked at as bonuses.

    What does this say to an ssd or ssi claimant? By getting and submitting the records yourself when you apply or appeal, or having your attorney or non attorney representative do this for you, you can ensure that all of your records are evaluated, and that your social security disability case will not sit around for months longer than necessary.

    Tip 3:One of the best tips: respond to letters and notices regarding you disability case promptly--from social security, DDS, or your attorney or non attorney representative.

    A social security disability or ssi case can easily run into trouble as a result of a claimant not responding to an official notice, particulary if that notice requires some type of response within a designated time frame.

    What types of notices are typically sent to social security disability and ssi claimants and from where? Here are two examples:
    Hearing notices from the Office of Hearings and Appeals - These notices are sent out to notify an ssd or ssi claimant that a hearing before an administrative law judge has been scheduled. These notices list the time, date, and place of the hearing, as well as the name of the judge and contact information. An acknowledgement form is usually attached. The purpose of the acknowledgement form, of course, is for the ssd or ssi claimant to advise the hearing office that he/she will be present at the time of the disability hearing.

    Medical examination appointment letters - These are notices sent by DDS, or disability determination services, advising an ssd or ssi claimant that a consultative examination, to be peformed by an independent third-party physician, has been scheduled. Generally, the time, date and place of the "CE" is indicated on this notice, as well as the name of the doctor who will conduct the consultative exam for the disability application or appeal.
    In all instances, a claimant for social security disability or ssi benefits based on disability should respond promptly to notices sent by either OHA (the office of hearings and appeals), DDS (disability determination services), or the FO or DO (the social security field or district office where the claimant originally applied for benefits).

    Amazingly, however, a significant percentage of disability claimants do not respond to such notices. When a claimant fails to respond to official correspondence, of course, they risk putting their social security disability claim in jeopardy.

    Remember: Always respond immediately to letters and notices sent by any office connected to the Social Security Administration.

    Tip 4: The rule of three always applies--for those who are applying or appealing and even those who have won social security disabiilty or ssi disability benefits.

    We've already touched on this rule, somewhat.

    Basically, it goes like this: if DDS, the Office of Hearings & Appeals, or the Social Security Office ever state that a decision or disability case-related event will occur by a certain date, rest assured that it probably will not. In fact, it may take three times as long as they say it will.

    Is the Social Security Disability System lying when it routinely gives out information that is so consistently wrong and inaccurate. Not really. The truth is, in most matters involving ssd and ssi disability claims, SSA (or any part of SSA's claim process) simply cannot give claimant's accurate "date" information.

    Why? Because, when it comes to disability claims, there's no way to know when a case will be completed... until it is actually completed.

    However, this reality also applies to other facets of the Social Security Disability system, as well.

    For instance, when it comes to payment processing for ssd and ssi claims.

    Claimants who are told that their disability back pay, or past due benefits, will be processed by a specific date are generally disappointed.

    In this matter, the truth is this: the social security office does not always process benefit payments (except in the case of SSI which is typically processed at the local office). Instead, a payment processing center often performs this function. And, if a claim has been approved by an Administrative Law judge, the case will be sent to a payment center immediately following adjudication.

    Good advice to follow is: when it comes to your ssdi (synonymous with ssd) or ssi claim, never completely rely on information dispensed by SSA's disability system. It is simply prudent to never take anything at face value.

    Tip 5: If you are denied on your initial claim for social security disability or ssi, you will need to file an appeal (the reconsideration).

    Some people who are denied on an Initial Claim for social security disability or ssi benefits go down to their local Social Security Office and complete a new application.

    This is a huge mistake. Filing out another disability application will only mean that your social security case (ssd or ssi) will be denied again. And, by doing so, you will give up your appeal rights.

    In the event that you are denied on your Initial Claim, this is what you should do: file, or have your disability representative file, a Request for Reconsideration (The reconsideration is the first step in the Social Security Administration's appeal process--unless you live in one of the test states for which the recon stage has been suspended).

    The Reconsideration may also be denied as well. But if it is, you will have the right to Request a Social Security Disability Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, and this is where you will have your best chance of winning your ssd or ssi case.

    Nationally, more than half of all claims for disability benefits with the social security administration are won at the ALJ hearing level.

    Of course, once a social security case gets that far in the process, it may be unwise to proceed without the assistance of someone who is trained to handle and win disability claims.

    The simple truth about the social security disability system is simply this: how to file for disability is not the chief hurdle a claimant will have to clear. Getting through the social security disability appeals process, on the other hand, typically is.

    Other areas of this website, of course, answer many questions relating to these issues (how to file for disability benefits, the length of wait times for applications, statistics regardings approvals and denials, as well as how to file appeals for social security claims.)

    Tip 6: Call DDS for updates on your ssd or ssi claim, not the local SSA office.

    In most cases, it is pointless to contact Social Security for status updates on a social security disability or ssi claim because they simply will not know the answers to your questions.

    Ninety-nine percent of the time, in fact, the only answer they can give out is that they don't know what is happening on an ssd or ssi case because DDS has not finished the medical evaluation.

    Worse, still, very many--if not most--social security claims reps (the people who take social security disability or supplemental security income applications, either on the phone or in person) know very little about the actual disability claim evaluation process.

    The DDS Examiner, however, at Disability Determination Services (this is the individual who actually works on your social security claim for disability benefits) can be called for accurate status updates.

    In any state, the number for DDS can always be obtained from your local Social Security Office.

    And unlike calling the local social security office (anyone who has ever tried to call social security knows the phone line there stays perpetually busy), a call made to DDS usually gets through.

    However, please bear in mind: the status on a social security disability or ssi case can only be obtained from DDS if the case is at DDS. In other words, once a case proceeds to the ALJ disability hearing level, DDS will have no further involvment in a claimant's ssd or ssi case.

    Tip 7: Having representation will increase your chance of winning social security disability or ssi benefits.
    Yes, even at the initial claim and reconsideration levels, a disability representative, attorney or otherwise, can often improve the chances of winning your ssd or ssi case. Most representatives will file all of a claimant's appeal paperwork, ensure that deadlines are not missed, and provide medical record updates to the social security office, or directly to the DDS examiner who has been assigned to review the case.

    However, this will nearly always be true if your case is heard by an Administrative Law Judge. And most social security disability claims will have to be heard by a judge in order to be approved.

    The basic rule is: unless the ssd or ssi case is approved at the initial application level, it will have to go through the entire appeals process, up to the point where a disability hearing before an ALJ is held.

    Why does having representation help? Because the regulations that govern the Social Security Administration's disability program are complex enough that the average person will simply not know how to prepare their social security disability properly case for a hearing.

    Case preparation for a social security hearing involves getting medical record updates, attempting to get very detailed statements from physicians, and sending copies of such evidence to the disability judge handling the case.

    It also involves getting a hard copy of a claimant's social security file (which is sometimes 3 inches thick) so the prior medical records examined by the DDS (Disability Determination Services) examiner can be reviewed.

    Of course, there are many other things that transpire to prepare a social security claim for disability. But, in any event, the best advice is this : if a hearing is the next step on your case, make sure you have a Representative, either an attorney who specializes in ssd and ssi claims, or a skilled non attorney representative (many of whom are former DDS examiners and social security claims representatives.

    Tip 8: If you have dire financial problems, let people know.

    For the most part, a disability claimant's financial situation will have no bearing on the pace at which a social security disability or ssi disability case is processed.

    However, if a disability claimant is waiting for a hearing to be scheduled with an Administrative Law Judge, this can sometimes be expedited by submitting what is known as a "dire need" letter.

    In a dire need letter, an ssd or ssi Claimant points out why waiting the normal amount of time for a Hearing (unfortunately, normal can sometimes be a year or longer) might have dire financial consequences. In most cases, this means something on the order of a home foreclosure, or an eviction from an apartment, or not being able to obtain prescriptions that are desperately needed.

    Are dire need letters effective for social security disability claims and ssi claims? That is, does social security, or, rather, the hearing office, take them seriously?

    Yes and no.

    Every OHA (office of hearings and appeals) in the country gets hundreds of dire need letters. Therefore, it's somewhat normal for the disability process at this level to give scant attention to the majority of such letters.

    The letters which get the most attention (remember, a person, possibly much like yourself, reads these) are the ones that have the most detail. So, if are your bills are behind, mention this. If your car is in danger of being repossessed, certainly mention this. And if your home situation is in jeopardy, make this the first item that you address.

    However, the letters that are most effective in aiding your social security disability case are those that have documentation attached: copies of past due notices, eviction threats, foreclosure proceedings, and the like.

    Submitting a dire need letter for the purposes of expediting your ssd or ssi case will not guarantee that your case will be moved along faster. And if an expedite is granted, there is no guarantee as to how much faster a disability claim will be processed (i.e. how much sooner a disability hearing before an ALJ will be scheduled).

    Having said that, though, even if a dire need letter only shaves a few months off the total time required to get a hearing date, writing such a letter is certainly worth the effort.

    Tip: Always keep a copy of the dire need letter you submit, and after you submit the letter, be sure to follow up on it a couple weeks later to make sure it has been received.

    Tip 9: If you have representation on a social security disability or ssi disability case, either an attorney or non attorney claimant's representative, keep them fully informed.

    If a disability representative (either an attorney or a non-attorney claimant's representative) is working on your ssd or ssi case, always keep them updated on what is happening with your situation, medically or otherwise.

    This is something that is extremely important to do. From personal experience, I can tell you that very often an important notice or letter has been sent to a social security disability claimant who has moved or changed their phone number...and who has forgotten to notify anyone, including their attorney or non attorney representative of these changes.

    Obviously, missing important correspondence, or being out of phone contact, can have disastrous implications for a disability case.

    For example: missing a scheduled DDS medical examination (see "consultative exam" on the definitions page) or, worse, missing the ALJ (administrative law judge) disability hearing that may have taken 6 months to a year, or longer, to get a scheduled date for.

    Therefore, if you move or change your phone number, pass this information along---to the individual who represents you on your disability claim, to the social security office, to DDS if your case is there, or to the hearing office if your ssd or ssi case is awaiting a hearing date.

    And if your doctor gives you a new diagnosis, or tells you that your impairment is becoming worse, let the Representative know this as well since this is the type of information that could assist, or, in some cases, even win your case for social security disability.

    Tip 10: If you have child support obligations which you cannot fulfill, ask your disability representative to help.

    While no one should take lightly the responsibility of providing adequate support to a dependent child, it is an unfortunate fact that many disability claimants for social security disability and ssi benefits are too physically limited to do so.

    Claimants with child support obligations can have a Representative submit letters on their behalf to a Child Support Enforcement Case Worker, or to a Judge.

    In most instances, while a disability case is pending, statements like this can keep a claimant's non-support status from resulting in incarceration, or other penalties.

    Tip 11: Contact your congressman or senator to help you with your ssd or ssi disability claim.

    Though it is never guaranteed to help, sometimes a social security disability or ssi benefit claim can be positively affected by the intervention of a politician.

    By contacting a Congressman or Senator's office, a Congressional Inquiry can be made into why a particular ssd or ssi case is taking so long.

    Such inquiries (which simply involve a telephone call or the writing of a letter) are made by an office holder's staff members and, on occasion, they can have the immediate effect of speeding up an ALJ disability hearing, or resolving a problem on a disability claim.

    How do you go about initiating such an inquiry? Simply determine who it is that represents you. Then, obtain their office phone number either via the phone book or through an internet search. Simply keep in mind this however: the purpose of such an inquiry is to determine why a social security disability or ssi disability claim is taking so long to process.

    Therefore, for this reason, you may not wish to request an inquiry if you have only recently submitted a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge in your disability claim.

    Tip 12: If you have been approved and have won your claim for either social security disability or ssi disability, you will receive...

    If you are granted Social Security disability or ssi disability, you will receive a monthly benefit amount that is determined by the Social Security Office.

    In most cases, you will also receive a certain amount in past due benefits, based on how long it has taken your case to be resolved and when it was determined your disability actually began.

    This is received as a lump sum and, depending on its size (usually an amount in the thousands), it may be broken into installments (ssi backpayments may be paid in installments, while social security disability backpayments are paid in a single lump sum). Typically, ssi back payments greater than $6,000.00 are paid in at least two separate installments.

    Disability recipients also receive certain medical benefits.

    Those whose benefits derive from SSI, or supplemental security income, may (depending on the state they live in) receive Medicaid.

    Those whose benefits derive from the Social Security Program (also referred to as Title II and Retirement Survivors Disability Insurance) will receive Medicare.

    However, medicare benefits do not become available until 2 years after gaining eligibility for social security disability benefits.

    This does not mean that medicare benefits become available 2 years after payments have started, but, rather 2 years after a claimant's eligibility for benefits has been established.

    In other words, if a claimant is awarded disability benefits and is given an established onset date (when the disability is judged to have begun, based on a review of the medical evidence by either an examiner or a judge) 3 years prior to the awarding of benefits...the 2 year clock starts from the established onset date + the five month waiting period that applies to all social security disability cases.

    Translation: the EOD, or establishd onset date plus the 5 month waiting period equals the claimant's date of entitlement, and this is the point from which the 2 year clock starts.

    Even better translation: medicare eligibility begins two years after a claimant is first eligible to receive a disability benefit check.

    For this reason, many claimants who have been approved for disability will have already "served" the required 2 year wait for medicare benefits by the time they receive their first social security disability check.

    Tip 13: Get your doctor to write a supporting statement for your social security disability or ssi case.

    It's completely true that social security disability and ssi disability claims are won and lost on the basis of a claimant's medical records. But what does "medical documentation" include? It includes treatment notes, lab reports, xrays, MRI studies, and statements from your doctor.

    By all means, if your doctor is willing to provide a statement in support of your social security disability claim, get one written. aware that statements that essentially say "my patient is 100% disabled and unable to work" are nearly useless.

    Social Security Disability examiners and judges who hear disability claims alike are not interested in short statements from personal physicians. In other words, if a doctor states that an individual cannot return to work, or reasonably be expected to find "other work" (this is how claimants are generally denied their benefits, by determining that they are capable of doing some type of other work), the doctor must state why a claimant is unable to work.

    How can a treating physician do this? Typically, the social security administration is looking for a doctor's evaluation of how well an ssd or ssi disability claimant can :
    perform dexterous hand movements
    reach overhead
    lift a certain amount of weight
    perform tasks that are classified as simple, routine, and repetitive.
    Therefore, a doctor should provide information regarding a patient's:
    general strength levels (typically measured on a 5 point scale)
    grip strength in either hand
    range of motion in all major joints, and reflexes.
    Of coure, the doctor should also comment on well the individual applying for disability can sit, stand, bend, etc., etc.

    Unfortunately, many doctors will balk at having to write this type of detailed statement, even though this is exactly what the social security admininistration is looking for.

    Neverthless, claimants who are seriously interested in winning their social security disability and ssi claims should strive to obtain this type of statement from their doctor.

    (note: a form that allows a doctor to provide this type of detailed statement is called an RFC form. RFC stands for residual functional capacity. The social security administration uses one type of RFC form but this is used, typically, to deny claimants. To obtain an RFC form that may assist you in winning your claim, visit this site's RFC (residual functional capacity form) page.

    Tip 14: Make sure your doctor REALLY DOES support your ssd or ssi disability case.

    It's very common to hear a social security disability or ssi disability claimant state that their personal physician is "100% behind me getting my disability benefits"...only to later discover that the claimant's treating physician was not particularly helpful, or, worse, not supportive at all.

    Very often, this comes to light as a disability claimant, or usually a claimant's representative, is preparing a case for a hearing to be held before an administrative law judge. At that point, attempts will be made to gather medical records as well as a supportive statement (i.e. medical source statement, RFC, residual functional capacity form) from the physician.

    The claimant and the claimant's representative may find that the Dr.'s office is somewhat unresponsive to requests for medical records (crucial to winning a case). They may also find that the doctor is unwilling to complete an RFC form (though, in all fairness, a large percentage of doctor's will complete such a form, if asked).

    Why do docs tell their patients that they support a patient's case for social security disability or ssi and then later, when their help is needed, become as visible as a fly on the wall?

    In some cases, it may be that the doctor does not consider the patient to be disabled at all, regardless of whatever statements they have made to the contrary (though it is distressing to hear, doctors will often say one thing to a claimant's face and "say" something else in their medical records). In other cases, the claimant's doctor may run an especially busy practice and may not wish to devote a portion of their time to a social security disability or ssi claimant's case.

    In either case, however, this is not the disability claimant's problem. In other words, if a patient does not have a doctor who will support their claim for benefits, via their medical treatment notes or through the completion of a medical source statement/RFC, they should consider switching to a doctor who does. This may simply mean, in some cases, finding a physician with a smaller practice who is willing to devote more one-to-one time to patients.

    How can a social security disability or ssi claimant discern whether or not their doctor will support their case? This may become very apparent when the medical provider refuses to provide a statement supporting their case.

    However, a disability claimant does not have to wait this long. In some instances, a brief conversation with one's doctor may settle the issue quickly. In other instances, it may be that a claimant's/patient's personal review of their own medical records will inform them of the extent to which their provider will be helpful...or not.

    The bottom line is simply this: social security disability and ssi cases take too long to pursue, and are too hard to fight, only to find at the last moment that a doctor will not be supportive of a patient's claim for ssd or ssi disability benefits.

    At the moment, there is no entry in Social Security Disability 's Listing of Impairments manual for the condition known as Fibromyalgia, also known as fibromyositis and Myofacial Pain Syndrome (The disability listing's, of course, provide the approval criteria for a number of different impairments ranging from amputations to seizure disorder).

    Nevertheless, many claimants with fibromyalgia apply for disability, and many go on to win their cases. For this reason, the fibromyalgia disability claimant who's been denied should not give up on their case. Instead, they should pursue their disability claim through the appeals process, keeping in mind how the Social Security Administration views this particular impairment.

    Exactly how does Social Security Disability view Fibromyalgia?

    As with all disability claims, after a person files at the Social Security Office, their case is transferred to DDS (Disability Determination Services), the agency responsible for making decisions on Disability cases.

    When a case arrives at DDS, it is assigned to a specialist, or Examiner, who orders medical records and uses these records to make a determination. In other words, approve a disability claim, or deny it.

    Unfortunately, when an Examiner receives a case in which the only allegation (reason for disability) is Fibromyalgia, the outlook for approval is not good. In fact, Social Security Disability will generally give little weight to such a claim unless another condition is involved, such as arthritis or degenerative disc disease.

    Why is this? Part of the problem has to do with the nature of Fibromyalgia itself. Fibromyalgia is an impairment whose causes are not fully understood. And though it may be a legitimate disability in and of itself, because it's symptoms and speculated causes vary so much from one person to the next, disability Examiners are never sure how to classify such cases. Therefore, it helps a social security case considerably if a Fibromyalgia diagnosis has been made in conjunction with another diagnosis, preferably one of a musculoskeletal nature.

    For example, if a claimant makes a disability claim and the chief impairments are either Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Fibromyalgia and Degenerative Disc Disease, the Fibromyalgia allegation will automatically carry more weight. This is because, in such cases, Fibromyalgia will be seen as a logical and plausible extension to what are generally thought of as "more proven" impairments.

    Additionally, and this is very significant, a Fibromyalgia diagnosis made by an Orthopedist or Rheumatologist will seem very logical to a disability Examiner and, as a result, will also strengthen a Social Security disability claim.

    This is in direct contrast to situations where the Fibromyalgia diagnosis has been made by an Internist, or "family doctor".

    When a personal physician renders a Fibromyalgia diagnosis, without a corroborative diagnosis by a specialist, it has the appearance to a disability Examiner of a label that's been used by a doctor...simply for lack of a better way to label a patient's pain.

    And, often, and unfortunately, this is exactly the case. Many times when family doctor's are unable to find reasons for the pain their patients feel, they diagnose "Fibromyalgia" as the cause. Disability Examiners see this routinely in the records they review.

    The effect this has is not helpful for a Social Security Disability case because it dilutes, in the eyes of the disability Examiner, the significance of this particular ailment.

    Obviously, this is not the fault of the disability claimant who is suffering from Fibromyalgia and is struggling to get their case approved. But it is helpful to understand how the disability process works in this regard and to consider how Social Security Examiners sometimes view applications where this illness is alleged.

    So, what does someone with this condition do when it comes to applying for disability? Go to the next page for a discussion of this topic.

    1. Regardless of what anyone tells you, it's good advice, if you are disabled and unable to work, to pursue a claim for Social Security disability, or ssi based on disability, and get it filed immediately. Reason: disability claims can take a very long time to process.

    This isn't true in all cases, but it is in most. Unfortunately, many claimants for disability benefits have experienced severe problems and hardship simply because they had no idea how long the process would be, and only realized when it was too late that they should have filed an application much much sooner.

    2. If you are denied on your Initial Claim, it's good advice to get an attorney or non attorney Representative to provide representation and help you with your claim for continuing and past due benefits (back pay). Reason: the way the disability system works, a claimant will, typically, either be approved on an initial application...

    or will be forced to follow the appeal route, at least to the point where their case is brought before an Administrative Law Judge at a social security disability hearing. This is not always the case, but it is generally a predictable rule of thumb (*reconsiderations usually have a much higher rate of denial than initial claims--and initial claims are denied 60 to 70 percent of the time, depending on the state in which you filed. For this reason, most claimants will have to go to a hearing if they hope to be approved--and going to a hearing unrepresented is foolish).

    3. If you think you may have problems doing the paperwork for your social security disability Claim, take some advice and find qualified assistance immmediately. An extraordinary number of persons who apply for benefits, or file an appeal following a denial, fail to properly complete their paperwork, or fail to submit their forms in a timely manner (*all appeals for disability must be filed within 60 days of the date of the last denial).

    4. Advice: Since your Social Security Disability or ssi claim will be evaluated completely on the basis of your medical records, the best advice is to get regular, ongoing medical treatment. Reason no. 1: even if your past medical records indicate that you are disabled, an examiner or judge will not be able to approve your claim for continuing benefits if current medical records are not available to substantiate your claim.

    Reason no. 2: if you attempt to get a supporting statement from your doctor (an RFC is much better--see the definitions page), you may have difficulty getting your physician to cooperate if he/she has not seen you recently. If you lose your medical coverage before your claim for benefits is approved, as is usually the case, try to be seen at a free clinic, county health department, or emergency room.

    While these treatment sources are not the best, they are, simply put, better than nothing. Another avenue to pursue may be with your state's Vocational Rehab department. Very often, VR can assist claimants in getting certain testing and examinations paid for. Though this is always for the purpose of developing a VR claim, vr counselors are usually willing to supply these records to a claimant's representative as well. Just remember this advice: as a general rule you cannot be approved for social security disability or ssi based on disability if you are not seen by a medical provider at least once every two months.

    [This Message was Edited on 04/17/2007]
  6. LouiseK

    LouiseK New Member

    PV Lady, I threw in everything but the kitchen sink as I have read they will approve people for a bunch of stuff easier than the thing that is actually keeping you from working (hilarious, really)-- in fact I dragged out my degenerative spinal disease and bulging discs after reading about your brother!

    Wayne -- Yes, the old gut instinct is really best. I just finished, catch this, writing a medical report (myself!) that I am hoping my lazy doctor will sign her name to so when I wrote a little something from myself I was in a twisted state of mind. I just left it very first draft and natural sounding. I didn't want it to look too forced. So it may not be beautiful to read but hopefully expresses a certain honesty about the whole horrible situation.

    Thanks everyone. I think I can say I've done all I can. For us TypeA, overachieving CFS'ers that's the ticket.

  7. LouiseK

    LouiseK New Member

    " . . .giving in to your illness . . ." that was very poetic and it does feel like that after fighting and fighting it.
  8. obrnlc

    obrnlc New Member

    hi louisek,
    i just wanted to wish you good luck with this, and if your 4 pages (typed or handwritten?) deals with WHY YOU CAN'T WORK, this is more important than actual impairments, they want specifics like: repetitive movement of hand/foot limited to 10 min., must rest 20 min. after every exertion of 10 minutes, etc.

    although they want to see a "listed impairment", their main concern is HOW it LIMITS you. If your 4 pages is perfectly handwritten, this could go against you, and if typed, you need to stress how long it took to do this so they don't say you must be able to do research and clerical stuff. If the statement (i can't limit mine to less than that, either, it just involves TOO much!) took you 2 weeks to complete, make that known, although you really can't prove it--not real sure how to do that.

    Also--many at SSA can't believe ALL of the symptoms we experience and doubt our credibility when they are ALL listed by saying "no one person can have so many problems". Well, welcome to our world, and we do, but it is unbeleivable what we deal with daily.

    anyway--Good Luck, hope you get it on your first try and don't need to wait on a hearing!---L

  9. mezombie

    mezombie Member

    IMHO, the more information they have, the better.

    Right now, it's most important not to miss their deadline.
  10. LouiseK

    LouiseK New Member

    In case you like "end of story" closure, I took the three page medical report I wrote for my doctor to sign and she changed a couple of words -- to make her feel like I wasn't running things -- and she put it on her letterhead and signed it! I'm very happy. It's a very strong report. She said it was just what she would have written (in order not to look lazy). Actually it is pretty well done -- took me like a month of meditating on it and reading all kinds of stuff to figure it out.

    I decided to leave my own statement not too polished. It's mostly about what a day is like for me and how I have to plan my weeks and examples of things I can't do like stay out more than a few hours or go to a shopping mall or a movie. Since I haven't been working for a year and my private disability has agreed that I am long-term disabled I only briefly reviewed what my life was like working while sick -- living out of vending machines and the like.

    Anyway I feel like I did all I could so now it's up to the powers that be.

    Thanks everyone for your interest. Oh, I am so exhausted from all this. Tomorrow a day of silence.
  11. obrnlc

    obrnlc New Member

    hi louise,
    glad it is all filed, doc report in (what a gem, to sign your exact symptoms!) and now you can take a day to REST and RELAX without all of that stress.
    Enjoy today--relax and do nothing!
    have a good one--L

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