Before I applied for disability, I called a local Chronic Fatigue Syndrome group. The person on the phone told me that no one is approved the first time, but I should not give up hope, because it was possible to get approved if I kept appealing.
I decided right then and there that I would not be discouraged! I would just think about my initial application as step one. It never crossed my mind that it could win.
Even though this was just step one, I still wanted to send in the best application I could because I felt this would give me the best chance later on when I appealed.
Because I was very ill, I did not try to do everything at once. It took me more than two months to put together my application. I also asked for help. My mom assisted me. I was not well enough to do it on my own. I did not have a lawyer.
Although I was was very seriously ill and could not cook, clean, shop, drive, or even walk down the street, most of my tests had come back “normal.” I could not afford special tests and was not well enough to travel to see more doctors. My mom thought we could still prove that I was sick and she was right! This is everything we did to show Social Security how sick I was.
My mom gathered all the medical records and printed copies of all the forms. We filled out the three forms required by Social Security. Then we also collected and added:
- Adult function report
- Doctors letters
- Files from home care agency
- All Medical records
- All Treatment notes
- Letter from caregiver
We put everything in one envelop with the forms and doctor’s letters on top. I did not hear anything for five months. Then the Social Security caseworker contacted me to go to a doctor. The doctor was far away and I told her I was not able to travel and had no way to get there. She sent a taxi to my doorstep. I brought a copy of one of my doctor’s letters to the appointment.
The doctor’s appointment was the first time I had left my house in three months. It took me a long time recover. I wish that I had called the doctor’s office ahead of time and requested a wheelchair service, but I did not know then that some doctors can provide that.
Three weeks after that appointment, I was approved. I was still waiting for the denial, so when I got the letter, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I felt very blessed to be approved so quickly. I’ll never really know what happened, but if I guess: 50% luck, 50% we made it easier for the caseworker to say yes.
I am very grateful for how everything turned out. I hope my experience will help other people.
Jasmine and her mom were damn smart. And damn right. They did make it a whole lot easier for the caseworker to approve her case.
Spend several months requesting records from doctors, requesting records from hospitals, collecting and assembling records, requesting forms from the person applying, receiving forms and putting them in file, wading through hundreds of medical records, trying to find any relevant medical information in those hundreds of pages, trying to find information on functioning in those hundreds of pages, sometimes trying to read really bad doctor’s handwriting, checking for duplicate records, removing duplicate records, checking for doctor’s offices that never sent records, making requests again, sometimes getting new records sent in while already in the middle of making a decision, checking for consistency in all the records, searching for information on severity of condition, searching for testing information to confirm medically determinable impairment, checking for accuracy, finally making a decision. Feel stressed and overwhelmed.
Open one envelop one time. Read the first few pages. All medical information is right there summarized in three doctor’s letters! Check forms. All forms are right there! Check records. All records are there! Look through to confirm that doctor’s letters are accurate and consistent with other records.
Voila! It’s a good day to be a caseworker!