How to Greatly, Greatly (Greatly!) Improve Your Disability Application

Artwork: Robin Mead

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:

 Read How Sweet Pea Won Her Case

🍭 Sweet Pea won her case in four months (without a lawyer!) If Sweet Pea can do it, you can do it, too.

Read How Marigold Won Her Case

🍭 Marigold won her case in six months (without a lawyer!) If Marigold can do it, you can do it, too.

Read How Jasmine Won Her Case

🍭 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!

Skip the Rest of This List

🍭 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.

Get Ready to Apply

🍭 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.

Get Started & Submit Your Application

🍭 You can apply online, on paper, on the phone, or in person. Here’s the lowdown on how and where to apply.

Fill out a Great Adult Function / Activities of Daily Living Report

🍭 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.

Make Sure You Are Seeing Mr. or Ms. Right

🍭 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.

Have “The Talk”

🍭 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)

How Did it Go?

🍭 Did your doc support you a little, a lot, or not at all? No matter what happened, you have options.

Get a Great RFC Function Form

🍭 Many lawyers say this is the single most important piece of paper in your entire case. You want one.

Avoid RFC Function Form Mistakes

🍭 This could be a little important. Just saying.

Read How Violet Won Her Case by Using RFC Function Forms

🍭 If Violet can do it, you can do it too!

Get Ready for the CE

🍭 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.

How to Hang with the Social Security Doctor

🍭 Have fun!

Check Your Social Security File

🍭 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.

Start Having Great Doctor Visits That Create Great Records

🍭 Read this and burn it into (what’s left of) your memory.

Get a Good Third Party Form

🍭 Then they may (or may not) send a similar form to your contact person.

Get a Great Letter from Your Doc

🍭 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.

Avoid a Bad Letter from Your Doctor

🍭 If you are planning to ask your doctor for a letter, you certainly don’t want a bad one.

Read How Daisy Won Her Case with a Doctor’s Letter

🍭 If Daisy can do it, you can do it too!

Get a Lawyer or Don’t Get a Lawyer

🍭 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.

Find Out if There are Secret Medical Records You Have Not Seen

🍭 There might be!

Change Your Mind

🍭 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.

Avoid Scary Phone Calls

🍭 If you want to.

Collect and Read All Your Medical Records

🍭 You may very glad you did.

Gain A Lot of Weight

🍭 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!

Document Homecare

🍭 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).

Follow The Golden Rules of Records

🍭 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.

Document Medical Equipment

🍭 If you need medical equipment, now is the time to get it. If you have medical equipment, now is the time to document it.

Don’t Try to Look Good When You Feel Like Crap

🍭 I love this article written by someone with CFS/ME and Lyme. Good advice!

Prove You Can’t Function

🍭 Aka the key to winning every disability claim

Get Tested

🍭 Have you heard someone say you need “objective medical evidence”? This is what they are talking about.

Document Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

🍭 Social Security has a special ruling for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. You can use it! It can help!

Document Lyme Disease

🍭 There is no special ruling for Lyme Disease. Don’t worry, plenty of Lymies are approved anyway.

Document Other Conditions

🍭 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.

Get Ready for the Big Day

🍭 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.

Paint a Picture

🍭 Social Security looooves consistency. Here’s how to get some.

Be Like Sage

🍭 Sage won his case by ignoring everything Social Security told him. Pretty good strategy.

How to “Prove” Lyme Disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

🍭 Spoiler: You can’t

How to Tell if Your Test Results are “Good Enough”

🍭 I get this question a lot. Here are some answers.

How to Wait for a Decision & How to Get a Decision

🍭 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 Can’t Get to the Doctor

🍭 If you don’t have health insurance, transportation, or the ability to get to the doctor.

If Your Doc Doesn’t Support You

🍭 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 Who Won’t Fill Out Paperwork

🍭 If your doc doesn’t want to fill out paperwork, you are not alone! And you are not without hope. Read on.

Get Help from SOAR (If homeless or at risk)

🍭 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 🍭


2 thoughts on “How to Greatly, Greatly (Greatly!) Improve Your Disability Application”

  1. Hi Lily,
    Just wanted to let you know that this link isn’t working –
    Read How Violet Won Her Case by Using RFC Function Forms

    🍭 If Violet can do it, you can do it too!

    thanks for this incredible blog – so grateful!


    1. Thank you so much Cindy. WordPress is hell for links. They constantly stop working or seem to change for no apparent reason. I love it when people tell me about bad links, but almost no one does. Thank you!!!! ❤ Lily


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