How I Applied for SSDI and Succeeded

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How I Applied for SSDI and Succeeded

Post  lcswdonna on Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:52 am

This is not a legal document, I am not an attorney. I am a medical social worker and have attended and testified in several Social Security appeal hearings for clients. I worked as long as I could then used what I had learned to apply. It worked. There are no guarantees to my suggestions, no one thought I would be able to get approved initially, but I did. This is how.

1. I requested ALL of my medical records myself. Medical records actually belong to you, they are easy to get. I chose to do this in person as it speeds the process. Go to the provider, sign a release to get all records. Each provider will have their own process for getting them to you. Some were printed while I waited, some mailed to me, some I picked up when they were ready. I started this process one month prior to application, so I could send them with my questionnaire. Total cost for me was about $100.00 as some providers charged to copy the record. Most of that cost was the local hospital, but they had all the physical therapy and ER records, so they were the most important.
Take out the pages that are not necessary. I found many insurance billing records in my file, these were not sent in. Organize the records according to each problem. For instance I had a file with all fibromyalgia related services, a file for all IBS services, a file for plantar fasciitis, and file for shoulder and neck deterioration, a file for surgeries, a file for migraines, a file for carpal tunnel syndrome and a file for tendinitis. Twelve diagnoses give more evidence for not being able to do any type of work than just the fibromyalgia.

2. When filling out the questionnaire sent to you after you initially apply, refer to these records often, and have them easy to connect with your answers. Your answers on the questionnaire need to be thorough, and backed up by the medical record. I had several pages just to answer the first question: How does your disability affect your ability to work? The pain and migraine questionnaires were equally long. You are not limited by the few lines in the form. Back it up with references to your medical records. Answer questions as things are on a bad day, not on your best day. On my best days, I could do much more, but I have so few of them.
Have someone proof read your information before mailing it. I used my computer instead of the form so I could have someone proof things before I sent them. I also used the computer because the carpal tunnel makes it more difficult to write by hand than to type. I made sure Social Security knew that was why it was typed.

3. Keep and share with them a daily pain diary. Use a pain scale, I used 0-10 with 0 being no pain and 10 being in the ER screaming. I also did a weekly and monthly average of the daily scores. My average goes up in the fall and winter, down in the spring and summer, but still averages between 5 and 6 daily. I also tracked migraine days so I could give an absolute number of how many days I lose to migraine pain, an average of 10 days a month for me. This means more than "I hurt all the time" or am "in constant pain." Use your medical records if possible to back up your numbers. For example, ER visits for migraines and a pain level of 10 on the same day makes you look more legit.
I sent two packets to Social Security as not all my records had arrived for the first packet. I let them know more were coming. The disability specialist I worked with suggested I wait for them to gather records, but also told me they did not request the whole record. I called him both times to make sure they received my records. I wanted them to see everything, not just selected items. I also wanted him to see me as a person so several contacts were more valuable in developing a relationship with him.

4. Hire a physical therapist and pay for a functional capacity evaluation. Do this before Social Security decides what evaluations they want. When my disability specialist called to schedule with their doctors, I told him I already did the FCE, and had him request the results. Not all therapists do this type of evaluation, find one that does. This evaluation measures your ability to do different kinds of work. It also helps the Social Security examiners decide if you can be retrained to do other types of work other than what you were doing. Expect to pay up to $600.00. This is an amount way less than you will pay an attorney to do an appeal. The point of this is to avoid being turned down. An appeal can take years. Beg and borrow the money. Getting your first check in 6 months as opposed to a year or two makes this money well spent. To quantify this, an attorney will take at least 25% of your first years award to help with an appeal. For me that would have been $4,110, or almost 10 times what I paid out. Some attorneys also want a portion of your monthly award for a period of time. This is why attorneys do not want to help from the start, they would not be able to get a part of your "lump sum payment" because you will not have one. It is in their best interest for you to be turned down.

5. Be polite. Be polite. Be polite. The psychiatrist Social Security sent me to thanked me numerous times for not being mean, she must see a lot of angry people. Leave your attitude at the door, it will not help. Make it feel like a cooperative process as opposed to you vs. them.

6. If you cannot accomplish any of these steps by yourself, recruit help. Barter something if you need to for the help. The more complete you are at the beginning, the better the chances for a positive outcome. Think about what someone needs to know about you that would lead them to decide whether or not you are disabled and make sure they know it. Remember, the records are all they know about you, so make them as complete a picture as possible. Make them see you as a real person through your records. These are real people looking at your file, they have compassion, make sure they are able to know who you are and what are your issues.

7. Keep copies of everything and keep them organized. When talking to my disability specialist, I referred back to things I had already told them in writing. Discrepancies can make you look like a fake. I told him that I was referring to the records because I had difficulty remembering things due to my illness. This only backed up my claim. Do not be afraid to answer, I don't know, or I am not sure. Then figure it out and get back to them.
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lcswdonna

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Age : 62
Registration date : 2012-04-24

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