Did you hire an attorney for your initial filing?
No. However I had a one-hour meeting (free of charge) with an attorney who specialized in SS Disability. She said SS doesn't care about symptoms or diagnosis--they want to know why you can't work. She gave me copies of her forms and I used those for my claim.
Did you hire an attorney for your appeals?
I did not need to appeal
Did you win your claim?
Yes! The first time I filed and without having to hire an attorney.
How long did the entire process take?
It took about three months to do all the research, meet with an attorney, get evaluated by a specialist, get the reports back from my doctors, and complete the paperwork. Two and a half months after I submitted the paperwork, I had a phone call from Social Security telling me I had been approved.
How I Prepared
I researched the subject on the Internet and read several books. I had one free meeting with an attorney who specialized in SS Disability. The attorney told me to include a report from a doctor specializing in CFS/fibro. I had three medical doctors, a psychiatrist, and a therapist submit reports regarding my condition. Four of the five had been caring for me since I got sick so they knew how disabled I was. The 5th was the M.D. specializing in CFS/fibro who had been recommended by the attorney. I fervently prayed!
The Filing & Appeals Process
One thing I saw in the books I read about the process was to be sure and meet with the Social Security people in person--as is our right--when I submitted my claim. My husband took me to that appointment as I was too ill to drive. The morning of the meeting, I did not take my amphetamines or pain pills so they could see how really sick I was. The woman who interviewed me was very nice. I think this was one of the things that helped me win my claim the first time. Another thing that may have helped was the report my husband completed. In simple terms he explained how my illness had affected both our lives, our marriage, our children, etc. It was very touching.
- Research the subject
- Talk to an attorney who specializes in SS disability. Ask for copies of the forms he or she uses.
- Have more than one professional providing you with care and get reports from all of them
- Be sure one of your doctors is a specialist in the area of your disability
- When completing the forms, emphasize why you cannot work
- Submit your application in person. Let them see how sick you are and don't disguise your pain or fatigue with medication