Survey: For those who won SSDI on first try

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by TerryS, Feb 27, 2007.

  1. TerryS

    TerryS Member

    1. What age were you?
    2. What were your diagnoses?
    3. Did you have support of a specialist or just your PCP?
    4. Did you have letters in hand from your doctors when you turned in your application?
    5. Did you have all of your medical records in hand when you turned in your application?
    6. Did you have any abnormal lab results such as antibodies or viruses?
    7. Did SS send you to any of their doctors or psychiatrists?
    8. How long until you got a favorable answer?
    9. What state do you live in?

    Please add anything else you think might be helpful.

    From all of us just starting the SSDI journey, THANK YOU!
    [This Message was Edited on 02/27/2007]
  2. dafoefan

    dafoefan New Member

    1. What age were you? 42 - approval letter states that I was considered disabled in 2002, age 39

    2. What were your diagnoses? FM, Depression, Panic Attacks, Severe Fatigue, Unable to sit or stand for any length of time, Poor sleep, 2 or more naps per day

    3. Did you have support of a specialist or just your PCP? Psychiatrist, Rheumy, and Neurologist

    4. Did you have letters in hand from your doctors when you turned in your application? No

    5. Did you have all of your medical records in hand when you turned in your application? No

    6. Did you have any abnormal lab results such as antibodies or viruses? No

    7. Did SS send you to any of their doctors or psychiatrists? No

    8. How long until you got a favorable answer? 4 to 5 mos

    9. What State (sorry I missed this one 1st time): California

    Please add anything else you think might be helpful.

    If it is determined that you are disabled and have children under 18, you will also receive benefits for them as well.

    I highly recommend hiring Allsup, Inc. They did everything, they have a 97% success rate, and I thank God for a friend's recommendation to use their services. They do not charge a fee unless you win. They receive a percentage of your backpay, not to exceed $5300.

    Please don't procrastinate like I did. I lost 4 years of payments, and payments to a child that has now past the age of 18.
    [This Message was Edited on 02/27/2007]
  3. TerryS

    TerryS Member

  4. Susan07

    Susan07 New Member

    1. What age were you?
    2. What were your diagnoses?
    fibromyalgia, arthralgia, fatigue
    3. Did you have support of a specialist or just your PCP?
    PCP (Internist) and Nuerologist
    4. Did you have letters in hand from your doctors when you turned in your application?
    Sent copies of Physicians Statements from LTD
    5. Did you have all of your medical records in hand when you turned in your application?
    Not all but quit alot. I copied bills from 1993 forward with the FM diagnosis.
    6. Did you have any abnormal lab results such as antibodies or viruses?
    7. Did SS send you to any of their doctors or psychiatrists?
    8. How long until you got a favorable answer?
    4 months
    9. What state do you live in?

    Take care, it was such a relief for me when they approved. Now I need to work more on the LTD insurance who denied me at first.
  5. drivenleonian

    drivenleonian New Member

    1. 31
    2. Spinal stenosis, multi level disc replacement, cervical disc protrusion,and depression and anxiety from the illness.
    3. 1 surgeon, 3 pain management doctors and my PCP. The surgeon was most helpful. The PCP said I would never get it and 2 pain management doctors wanted to get me better soon. Only 1 pain specialist was willing to note all of my ailments as one event that lead to all of the others.
    4. No
    5. No
    6. Many MRI reports showing the physical problem and a few visits to a councellor that thought the pain was in my head.
    7. Yes, for a psych eval
    8. Filed Nov 14, 2006 approved for benefits March 2007.

    No attorney. My lawyer said I should apply and wait for my denial before shelling out cash. It was worth it. The lawyer can take 25%.

    Be truthfull and ask others who are close to you to participate on your behalf. They can offer a close up view of what your life is like without describing your feelings, only what they see in you.

    Good luck and do not give up.
    [This Message was Edited on 02/27/2007]
  6. greeneyeslk

    greeneyeslk New Member

  7. PVLady

    PVLady New Member

    My brother got is permanent SSDI on the first try. He is age 59. Degenerative disc disease, cervical spine with numbness and weakness symptoms in both arms.

    He sometimes drops things, his hands lose their grip.

    He had a HMO doctor who really documented her file. I believe he had also had a consult with a surgeon (no surgery).

    Basically, his MRI results must have looked bad. He actually applied over the internet and I believe they ordered his medical records.

    He applied last July and was approved in September. Right before his approval, they sent him a letter they wanted him to meet with one of their doctors, then they contacted him and said forget it, he was already approved.

    He is in California. One thing, they seemed to make a big deal that he was a Viet Nam veteran and made him supply documentation of his service. Whatever that had to do with anything - maybe nothing.

    He just seemed to breeze right through and I was so surprised. Many here say they have problems and I was warning him.

    I had also had him study a website that is supposed to help you when you apply and he did read it. It is called disabilitysecrets - that site has a ton of information.

    Here is some info from their site. But when you go to the site, there is tons of good information.

    Yes, you can certainly get approved for social security disability or ssi disability without the help of a disability attorney or a non attorney representative.

    However, there are literally thousands of instances in which disability cases have been lost simply because a disability advocate was not involved in a claimant's case. A good example of what can happen when an attorney or non attorney is not involved in a case can be found on this page:

    Going to a hearing unrepresented can be a bad idea

    For most claimants, it's probably never a good idea to go to a disability hearing unrepresented. And, in fact, the majority of administrative law judges will be kind enough to advise claimants who show up at hearings unrepresented to find representation and come back at a later hearing date.

    By contrast, during the initial application phase, a social security disability or ssi disability claimant will have no immediate need to hire an attorney or non attorney for representation purposes.

    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.

    Claimants with representation
    have a better chance of approval.
    To contact a disability attorney
    and get a free evaluation, click here

    Winning disability benefits in the social security disability or SSI program---it can make the difference between staying afloat and going financially down the tubes. And, sadly, that is a strong possibility for many SSDI and SSI applicants. Many individuals who file for disability do suffer terrible financial effects as a result of their 1. condition and 2. the fact that winning disability benefits can be an uphill climb and a process that takes months or years.

    For any disabled individual, winning disability benefits is a vital concern. But for those whose savings and possessions are on the line (many claimants lose their entire savings, are forced to sell possessions, and even find themselves at risk of eviction or foreclosure), winning disability benefits faster is crucial to the goal of staying out of the financial abyss.

    Let's address the two SSD-SSI issues separately and in detail: winning disability and winning disability faster.

    How do you win social security disability or SSI? Quite obviously, you need to satisfy the social security administration's definition of disability. To be concise, SSA requires that a claimant must have a severe impairment that lasts twelve months or longer which prevents them from working at any of their current or former jobs, or prevents them from doing suitable forms of "other work".

    What can you infer from this definition of disability? You can infer that, to qualify for disability, the impairment, or impairments, must meet a suitable standard of severity. In other words, a sprained wrist most likely will not do (believe it or not, some individuals have actually applied for simple sprains).

    However, nearly any impairment can meet the severity test (which is somewhat subjective) and potentially qualify a claimant for disability. For example, based on the extent to which they functionally restrict a person's activities, the following conditions may be considered severe: congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder, lupus, lyme disease, arthritis, diabetes, ms, vision problems, etc, etc, etc. And this list is hardly conclusive. There are many hundreds of medical, psychological, and psychiatric conditions that may qualify an applicant for benefits.

    You can also infer from the SSA definition of disability that a person's disability should be longstanding, meaning that, no matter how severe a claimant's condition is, it needs to last one full year at the very least. Does this mean that if you are legitimately disabled for 9 months that you will not qualify for disability. Yes and no. A claimant in this situation will definitely not qualify for ongoing and continuing SSDI (social security disability insurance) or SSI benefits. However, that same individual might qualify for what is known as a closed period, which basically means that a claimant would receive a lump sum disability check for X number of months and then nothing more.

    The definition of disability is, obviously, somewhat strict. Nonetheless, a claimant can elevate their chances of winning disability benefits by doing the following:

    1. Listing in detail on the disability application ALL sources of medical treatment, along with the names of doctors who have provided treatment, the addresses of hospitals and clinics that have been visited, and the dates of treatment for each facility. Why is this so important? Because to be approved on a social security disability or SSI claim a claimant's medical records must be evaluated. And to make sure that all of a claimant's medical problems are given full consideration, the disability examiner (the person who actually makes the decision on an SSI or SSDI claim) should, without a doubt, have access to ALL of a claimant's records. The disability examiner should also have access to a claimant's records as far back as possible to ensure that the claimant can receive the maximum amount of benefits for which they are entitled.

    2. Getting one's doctor or doctor's to submit supportive statements. These statements should be fairly detailed and should not simply state "my patient is disabled and unable to work". Instead, a statement from a treating physician should actually explain why it is that a disability claimant is unable to work. And to effectively do this, a doctor should indicate the functional restrictions a claimant has as a result of their physical and/or mental condition. For example, if a claimant has a severe lower back condition, a doctor, in his or her statement, should indicate any difficulty the claimant has with walking, sitting, or standing. If the claimant cannot sit more than 10 minutes at a time, this should be pointed out. In the case of a claimant with severe bipolar disorder, a psychiatrist should indicate any problems with rapid mood cycling and, perhaps, in interacting with work associates or supervisors.

    3. Keeping up with one's case. That is, a claimant should know at all times what is happening with their disability claim. Typically, this will involve a certain amount of periodic calling to get status updates. Why is this a good idea? It makes sense for several reasons. First of all, by calling the disability examiner at DDS (remember, it is at disability determination services that a medical decision on a disability claim is rendered---the social security office simply takes the application and then forwards it to DDS), a claimant can sometimes "spur" the examiner to work a bit faster since, as the saying goes, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease". Disability examiners, by the way, generally do not like to receive calls from claimants and claimants who call quite often will sometimes have their files worked on faster simply to free the examiner from excess phone calls. Secondly, of course, by calling for status updates, an SSI or social security disability claimant can verify that whatever paperwork they may have submitted (such as questionaires and appeal forms) was actually received. Social security offices are legendary for not being able to locate claimant-submitted paperwork and asserting that it was "never received".

    Following just these few simple tips can improve one's chances, in some cases, of winning disability benefits. But how can you get a decision faster? Here are a few suggestions to follow for shaving at least a bit of processing time from your disability case.

    1. Apply for disability as soon as possible. An astounding number of disabled individuals wait too long before applying for either social security disability or SSI. When should you apply for disability? As soon as your condition or conditions makes it impossible for you to continue working.

    2. Provide, whenever possible, copies of medical records with the application for disability. Why would someone do this? There's actually more than one reason. First of all, the vast majority of the time spent "processing" a disability claim is simply waiting for medical records to be received. Yes, disability examiners (who work at DDS, or disability determination services) generally request a claimant's records on the same day that they receive an application from the social security office where a claimant filed. However, they still cannot process a decision on an SSI or social security disability claim until the records are actually received. And many hospitals and clinics are notorious for the amount of time they take to honor medical record requests. By sending in your medical records at the time you apply for disability, you can potentially shave weeks or even months off the time your disability case may take.

    3 Consider getting a social security attorney to assist you with your claim. When should you get a disability attorney involved in your case? "When" will often depend on the claimant. Certainly, many people will not require the services of an attorney until they have been denied. However, many claimants can benefit from having the assistance of an attorney from the very start for the following reasons: 1. an attorney can sometimes help a disability claimant decide whether to appeal or file a brand application (appealing is generally the preferred option, though in some cases filing a new application will be the better choice) and 2. an attorney, after reviewing a claimant's case, may decide to work proactively on getting an approval as early as possible, perhaps even during the intial application phase.

    Winning disability can also depend as much on what a claimant does not do. And by this, we mean that a disability applicant can improve the chances of winning disability by avoiding certain mistakes. For a list of common mistakes to avoid on a social security disability claim or an SSI disability claim, you may wish to refer to the following page: Mistakes to avoid on Disability claims


    To apply for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits based on disability, a person must first make a claim. This is done by contacting the Social Security office, either by phone or by visiting a local office.

    The best method for initiating a disability claim is debatable. As many individuals can attest, getting through on the phone to apply for social security can be a difficult task in itself. On the other hand, trying to be seen as a walk-in can mean hours of waiting simply to be given an appointment to return at a later date.

    (TIP) It's probably better to use the phone. By calling when social security opens, a person can avoid the telephone log jam. Also, by calling, a claim applicant for disability benefits can arrange for a phone interview rather than an interview conducted in-person. Interviewing over-the-phone is typically more convenient than traveling to the Social Security Office.


    Though Disability application's are filed at the Social Security Office, that is not where they are evaluated. Completed disability applications are actually sent to a state agency called Disability Determination Services, or DDS for short. At DDS, they are assigned to disability specialists known as Examiners. Examiners are the individuals who make decisions (typically a denial) on Social Security cases (at the Initial and Reconsideration levels).

    How long a Social Security Disability case stays at DDS depends on many factors, such as how many cases a particular Examiner has, or how long it takes an Examiner to gather a claimant's medical information. Consequently, a claim may be at DDS for as little as a month, or as long as several months. There is really no way to know, even for the Examiner, how long a Social Security disability case may take.

    (TIP) Therefore, when social security advises that a decision will be made within 90 to 120 days, take this WITH MANY GRAINS OF SALT.

    In all truth and candor, there is NO WAY OF KNOWING how long a Social Security or SSI claim for Disability will be worked on, simply because the Claims Rep at social security (the worker who took the application) does not work on the medical evaluation--the Examiner at DDS does.

    And since this is true, (TIP) while a case is at DDS it is pointless to call Social Security to inquire about the status of the claim.

    However, (TIP) it is a very good idea to contact the disability Examiner while the case is at DDS. This is for several reasons:
    The disability Examiner usually knows what is happening on a claim, and can readily provide the information.
    Examiners who are bugged by Claim applicants tend to work on their claims faster (naturally, to avoid more phone calls).
    And unlike the social security office, DDS is usually accessible by phone (social security can provide the number for DDS).


    In the course of working on a benefits claim for Social Security or SSI, a disability Examiner may do one or more of the following:
    Make calls to the claimant, or the claimant's friends or relatives, to gather information about the claimant's conditions;
    Confer with medical specialists (physicans, psychiatrists, and psychologists) employed by Social Security Disability a.k.a. Disability Determination Services;
    Send the claimant to a medical examination paid for by DDS.
    However, the very first thing the disability Examiner will do is send letters to the claimant's medical sources (doctors, hospitals, and clinics) to request medical records.

    What usually delays a claim is waiting for medical records information to be received.

    Therefore, (TIP) whenever possible, social security & SSI claimants should obtain their own medical records and submit them when they apply (making sure, of course, to keep a copy for themselves---social security has a terrible habit of losing information that's needed for a disability claim).

    Usually, once an Examiner has all the medical evidence gathered, a claim decision follows shortly.

    Unfortunately, in most cases, the decision on a disability claim will be a denial.


    Myth 1: that Social Security denies everyone the first time they apply for disability.

    Myth 2: that Social Security denies you a certain number of times before you are approved and can receive disability benefits.

    Myth 3: that a statement from your physician supporting your case can automatically get you approved for benefits.

    Myth 4: that certain conditions, disabilities, or medical health problems can get you automatically approved for benefits.

    Myth 5: that the way to appeal a social security claim denial is to file a brand new application.

    Myth 6: that you can't be awarded social security disability benefits if you have ever used drugs or alcohol.

    Myth 7: that everyone who gets approved for disability receives back pay (past due benefits) as well.

    Myth 8: that the social security administration deliberately denies your social security disability claim for the purpose of saving government money.

    Myth 9: that you will receive a decision on a disability claim in 90 to 120 days.

    Myth 10: that being approved for VA benefits means you should also be approved on a social security disability claim.

    Myth 11: that the consultative medical exam that Social security sends you to is to is for the purpose of providing medical treatment.

    Myth 12: that children's cases are more easily approved than social security claims pursued by adults.

    Myth 13: that you are not allowed to work and have earned income if you are applying for disability.

    Myth 14: that disability benefits cannot be seized for child support payment purposes.

    Myth 15: that claimants who are not disabled are often and unfairly awarded benefits while more deserving disability claimants are routinely denied.

    Myth 16: that it's ok to discontinue medical treatment if your primary doctor has released you from care.

    Myth 17: that you can't win a disability case if you are in your twenties or thirties.

  8. rosemarie

    rosemarie Member

    I am 51 as of Feb . 18th.

    My DX's were, end-stage osteoarthritis in both knees, ddd, degenerative joint disease, facet syndrome, shattered left wrist has plate wwith titaium screws in it., Spinal stenosis, buldging discs, radilopathy of the lumbar spine,depession mild, Fibro , cmp, I know that there is more but since I am writing this at 3:50 am I can't remember them all.

    I sent in all my medical records, letters from doctors, saw their md in may of 06, had x-rays taken of both knees in 07 with dx of end-stage osteoarthris.

    I started this process over two years ago and I heard from them on valentines day and was told that it would be weeks before I woulde recieve monoey. it was just two days later that the money was in my account.I saw their md the last of may 06 but the date of my disabiolity was may 1 06 but I will not be able to recieve medicare for 2 years and I will have a reexamantion of my case in 7 yrs.
    I live in Utah. And no one I know has ever got SSDI on first try with out a lawyer. I am shocked still.

    I made a form letter of all the pain issuses that I have I typed them in a formm letter and had my md go through it and say just want the spianla stenosis is and how it effects my body as well as my ablility to work. I did this with all the pain issue s that I have and then when it was finished he sent it to me and I sent it on to them.

    Also I did every thing that they asked of my wether it was seeing their doctor on Memoral weekend at 9 am in a town that it over a 30 monute drive. I was told to get x-rays of my knees and I did it asap and had it sent to my doctor and my pcp, and to ssdi.
    That is just what I did and I woul dcall when I didn't not hear from them in montohs to find out where my case was at.

    Wish that I was more help.
  9. TerryS

    TerryS Member

    PVLady - thank you for all the incredibly important info. I actually paid $100 to an attorney here in Atlanta where I live (found him through this website) for some great info regarding filing my claim. He sent me a CD with a disability guide book on it. This darn SSDI application is so long and complex...I initially started working on it in mid January and I still haven't finished it.

    My brain is in a fog much of the time and it's just so difficult. This is quite a humbling experience because I was so highly organized and (I believe) intelligent prior to this illness. Now I feel like a bumbling idiot. I find myself doing things that seem foreign to me...I don't know if I can even trust mom says that sometimes I don't sound like myself, that I talk like a lunatic!!! This is so scary. I'm seriously thinking of seeing a psychiatrist. Either my meds are messing up my brain, or else my illness is, or else I'm losing it! I don't want to end up in a mental institution!!!

    Rosemarie - Since you were approved on the first round, why did it take TWO YEARS to get through the system??? I don't understand.

  10. TerryS

    TerryS Member

    I'm bumping this...again!!! Want to know...need to know!!!
  11. Shalala

    Shalala New Member

    Thanks everyone for the great info
  12. mildred623

    mildred623 New Member

    1. What age were you? I was 29 years old.

    2. What were your diagnoses? "Chronic Pain Syndrome"

    3. Did you have support of a specialist or just your PCP? My PCP.

    4. Did you have letters in hand from your doctors when you turned in your application? No

    5. Did you have all of your medical records in hand when you turned in your application? No

    6. Did you have any abnormal lab results such as antibodies or viruses? No

    7. Did SS send you to any of their doctors or psychiatrists? No was never sent to their doctors.

    8. How long until you got a favorable answer?
    Took 5 months till I was approved.

    9. What state do you live in? Ohio

  13. TerryS

    TerryS Member

    bump, bump, bump, bump, bump...
  14. TerryS

    TerryS Member

    anyone else??? going, going...
  15. TerryS

    TerryS Member

    Thank you to all that replied. I sincerely hope there are more that actually made it through the system the first round...all the information you have given the rest of us is priceless!!!

    Anyone else??? Any additional info we may need???

    THANK YOU!!!

  16. Susan07

    Susan07 New Member

    Regarding completing SSD online, I really know what you mean.

    It was a daunting process. I got to where I'd just go on for about an hour a day until I finished.

    It was worth it so keep on keeping on!
  17. jmq

    jmq New Member

  18. mindbender

    mindbender New Member

    I haven't talked to you for a while...But that's not important. (just kidding)

    I've been turned down twice now. I'm headed to the Administrative Law Judge again this month.

    My first court date was in January. When I went, the Judge heard me mention that I was trying to get a lawyer, and he gave me a second try.

    Quite soon later I might add. I was respectful to him, I think is why.

    What I really replied about was that I made an apointment at the local SS Office, and they filled out the forms with me right there.

    I imagine the SS Office is a little more crowded there than here. I'm in fillintheblank, OH

    By the way I've been waiting 3 yrs almost to the day.

    I hope you can make it.

  19. KittyCat

    KittyCat New Member

    1. I was 48 when approved.
    2. My diagoses were/are General Anxiety Disorder, Major Depression Disorder, as well as Fibromyalgia also slightly anemic.
    3. I had the support of my therapist/Psychologist, as well as a written report from another Neuro Psychologist and my PCP.
    4. Yes I had letters and report from the 2 Psychologists when I turned in my application.
    5. I turned in my medical records after turning in my application.
    6. I had low hemoglobin blood count and slightly below normal red blood cell count.
    7. Yes, SS sent me to an evaluation by their Psychologists.
    8. From the time I applied to the time I was approved was eight months.
    9. I live in California.
  20. LouiseK

    LouiseK New Member

    Please, how does one find out who the disability examiner is and how to contact that person?

    I will be sending a huge pile of stuff to SS along with my application but I am sure it will never get to the examiner. In fact I believe all the information the wxaminer gets is electronically transferred from Social Security and that would not include a pile of papers from me which likely go in the trash.

    However, I would like to provide the same papers to the examiner. How can I locate this person??

    Many thanks and happy days ahead.

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