Finally my tears are happy ones!!!
I was approved on the basis of neurological Lyme Disease, encephalopathy, chronic head and neck pain, and cognitive difficulties.
Thank you to those who have helped me through some very rough times lately. How badly I needed this assistance.
I will share some things that I did that may have been helpful to my case.
I did as much research as I could and tried to learn about the process. This gave me a lot of good ideas about how to approach my application.
My boyfriend made a spreadsheet that had all the doctors I had seen since getting ill, all treatments received, all laboratory tests, and all important medical information.
Collecting Medical Records
Before I applied, I gathered all my medical records and I brought copies of all of them into my first interview. My file was HUGE.
I brought the spreadsheet and all my records with me to the Social Security office when I had the interview to apply.
When the people at Social Security saw my files, they were amazed and very thankful as it made their work easier. This pushed my folder to the top and got things moving much quicker.
It also helped make sure that no important files were missing or overlooked.
Staying in Touch
Over the next few months, I kept in frequent contact with my Social Security Disability Examiner (not in an annoying, pestering way though) and helped him gather all he needed.
I kept on top of my doctors to send in the info that was requested of them.
When I wasn’t feeling well enough to make even a simple call, my boyfriend would call and inquire for me.
I wrote to my doctor and I sent three things:
- A brief letter from me
- A copy of the SSA definition of disability
In my letter, I reminded him of my symptoms, my situation, and how Lyme has altered my life. I politely asked him to write a letter to SSA, proving to them that I meet their definition of “disabled.” I made the letter short enough so that I would be sure he’d actually read it (one page)
Thankfully, my doctor did write a good letter, which I truly believe was a HUGE help in my case.
Please don’t assume that our doctors are knowledgeable about Social Security and know what to do. Our doctors have so many patients and can’t possibly remember every detail about each of us. I have found that giving a doctor all the info is really helpful. It’s rare when a doctor will take the time to do this themselves, so we need to be our own advocates.
Rather than focusing on the diagnosis, I went into detail about what I cannot do and why, with answers like: “I cannot stand in one place longer than 4 minutes because…” “I cannot sit at a computer for longer than 20 minutes at a time because…” “I cannot walk around stores because…”
In explaining my symptoms and limitations, I focused on the frequency, duration and severity and was completely honest about everything.
Even though it was not my main issue, I included psychological symptoms in my application. I was told that it’s sometimes easier to be approved for mental impairments than physical. Providing both could possibly give them an extra avenue to approve you on.
Asking for Help
I am blessed with an amazing boyfriend who was willing to collect medical records, create a spreadsheet and make phone calls for me.
Due to my neurological symptoms, I could not have done this by myself and I made sure to let Social Security know that. I wrote down how long it took me to complete forms and the help I had gotten.
I hope this helps someone else. Now I can finally take a deeeeeep breath and relax! (And finally get back on some treatment!!!) Wooooohooooo!!!!!