Here is a list of 50 things you can do to make a super great disability application. You can do these things before you first apply, while you apply, or after you apply.
Don’t try to do all 50 things on this list (you will die). Look through and pick out a few things that feel right to you. If all goes well, you may decide to come back and try a few more.
It’s perfectly fine if you can’t do a lot (Of course you can’t! That’s why you are applying for disability). Any little thing you can do can make a big difference. A few minutes each day can really add up. If possible, ask a friend or loved one for help.
Whatever happens, don’t let anybody ever tell you that you can’t get approved for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Or you can’t get approved if you have Lyme Disease. Or it’s not possible to get approved in less than two years. Those people are disheartened and discouraged. But those people don’t know what you know. Because you know all of this:
🍭 Sweet Pea won her case in four months (without a lawyer!) If Sweet Pea can do it, you can do it, too.
🍭 Marigold won her case in six months (without a lawyer!) If Marigold can do it, you can do it, too.
🍭 Jasmine won her case in six months (without a lawyer!) Do you notice a theme here? Lawyers can be a great help in certain situations, but you are the best person to win your case. If these ladies can do it, you can do it too!
🍭 As promised there are fifty ideas on this list. If you don’t want fifty ideas, Here’s a little cheat sheet with just the most important bits.
🍭 If you have not yet applied, you definitely don’t want to make your head explode by reading this whole page. Here’s a shorter list with a few things that can help at the beginning.
🍭 You can apply online, on paper, on the phone, or in person. Here’s the lowdown on how and where to apply.
🍭 A month or two (or three) after you apply, Social Security will send you this form to fill out. Or they will call you and ask you these questions on the phone.
🍭 Daisy’s lawyer waited two years to tell her she was seeing the wrong kind of doctor. You don’t want to wait two years. You want to know right now.
🍭 You may think you’ve already talked to your doc about your disability application. Read this anyway. (If you don’t have money or insurance to get to a doctor, see below)
🍭 Did your doc support you a little, a lot, or not at all? No matter what happened, you have options.
🍭 Many lawyers say this is the single most important piece of paper in your entire case. You want one.
🍭 This could be a little important. Just saying.
🍭 If Violet can do it, you can do it too!
🍭 Social Security will likely contact you a few months after you apply and send you to a Consultative Exam with a Social Security Doctor. Here’s how to get ready.
🍭 Have fun!
🍭 Some people estimate that 50% of records get lost or go missing. Some of the people who make these estimates are people who work at Social Security. Not good.
🍭 Read this and burn it into (what’s left of) your memory.
🍭 Then they may (or may not) send a similar form to your contact person.
🍭 A great letter can be a great help. You can get a letter instead of an RFC form. Or you can be a superhero and get both.
🍭 If you are planning to ask your doctor for a letter, you certainly don’t want a bad one.
🍭 If Daisy can do it, you can do it too!
🍭 You do not need a lawyer at the beginning, but if you want one, go get one! For appeals you probably do need a lawyer. It usually won’t cost anything up front. Just so you know: Your lawyer will not do most of the things on this page. These are the things you can do to help yourself.
🍭 There might be!
🍭 The number one challenge I have seen with new applications is people who hold onto ideas that hurt their applications. Please read through some of the ideas on this list and see what you are willing to let go of.
🍭 If you want to.
🍭 You may very glad you did.
🍭 Social Security gives a lot of weight to some doctors and little or no weight to others. You want your doctor to gain a lot of weight!
🍭 If you are unable to care for yourself, now is the time to see if you qualify for home care. If you are already in a home care program, now is the time to request your file and send it to Social Security (hint: the original assessment from when you first applied may be extra helpful).
🍭 When I look at the site stats here, I see no one clicks and reads the pages about records. Do people think their lawyers are taking care of all their records? Do people think Social Security is taking care of all their records? Do people think records are not important? Whatever it is you all are thinking, don’t think those things.
🍭 If you need medical equipment, now is the time to get it. If you have medical equipment, now is the time to document it.
🍭 I love this article written by someone with CFS/ME and Lyme. Good advice!
🍭 Aka the key to winning every disability claim
🍭 Have you heard someone say you need “objective medical evidence”? This is what they are talking about.
🍭 Social Security has a special ruling for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. You can use it! It can help!
🍭 There is no special ruling for Lyme Disease. Don’t worry, plenty of Lymies are approved anyway.
🍭 Most people are not approved for just one thing. They are approved for a combination of impairments. Make sure your application includes every single thing you struggle with, including mental health, depression, anxiety, and all physical conditions.
🍭 If you are appealing your case, you will have a hearing with a judge. This usually happens about two years after you first apply. This page has a bunch of good articles about disability hearings.
🍭 Social Security looooves consistency. Here’s how to get some.
🍭 Sage won his case by ignoring everything Social Security told him. Pretty good strategy.
🍭 Spoiler: You can’t
🍭 I get this question a lot. Here are some answers.
🍭 After you apply, some new exciting things will happen! Plus, you will spend a lot of time sitting around waiting and being bored!
🍭 If you don’t have health insurance, transportation, or the ability to get to the doctor.
🍭 Don’t worry. I’ve seen many people get themselves into this situation and I’ve seen many people get themselves out of this situation.
🍭 If your doc doesn’t want to fill out paperwork, you are not alone! And you are not without hope. Read on.
🍭 The SOAR program is a huge help with disability applications for people who are homeless or at risk for becoming homeless. Most SOAR programs require a diagnosis of serious mental illness, but some programs do not require this. They provide wonderful help and have truly amazing success rates.
See a Specialist
🍭 If you are able to see a specialist, this can help your case. Common specialists for people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and related conditions: Rheumatologists, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Infectious Disease Specialists, and pain specialists/pain clinics. Some people also report that assessments from Physiatrists/rehabilitation doctors and Occupational Medical Doctors were very helpful for their claims.
Reach Out for Help
🍭 If you know someone who cares about you, this is a wonderful time to ask for their support and assistance. You can ask a friend, family member, neighbor or anyone else you know if they might be willing to look though this list and pick out a few things you can do together. You do not need any special training or any special knowledge. Everything here is something anyone can do.
Updated: March 2017 by Lily Silver 🍭