How to Kill Your Social Security Application

Art: Robin Mead

Below is a list of ideas and beliefs that many of our readers say they wish they had let go of a lot sooner. These ideas can cause problems for your Social Security application, and may keep you from being able to get the stability, support and healthcare that you need for yourself and your family.

In the upcoming months and years, you may find that you need to be stronger, braver, and more open than you ever have before. Change is a process and no one can ever change everything all at once, but we hope there may be something on this list that will help you see things from a different perspective.

“I’m not disabled!”

If you are really not disabled, that is great! But you won’t get approved for disability.

“I don’t know if I’m disabled.”

Now is the perfect time to figure it out and try to make peace with whatever you decide. The way you talk with your doctor and the things you write on your application are going to be very important.

“You can’t get approved if you have Fibro, Lyme or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”

False, false and extra false

“You can’t get approved in less than two years”

Better sentence: I’m going to take some extra steps to help my application, and then I may have a chance to get approved quicker! Just take a look at all these stories from people who got approved quickly.

“You can’t get approved if you are young”

Massively wrong. Here’s how you can get approved if you are young.

“My disability application is not my top priority in life”

We’ve heard from a lot of readers who feel this way, especially at the beginning. Unfortunately, things did not turn out so well for some of these people.  Many people report divorce, evictions, foreclosures, homelessness, lack of food, loss of medical care, and other hard circumstances.

If you are on the edge and genuinely too sick to work, please consider: there may be nothing in this world more important that your disability application right now.

“I read all my medical records online.”

This is a common misconception that sometimes leads to heartache. You want to read your complete medical records.

“I read all my medical records after each visit. The person at the front desk hands them to me”

Nope. You still want your complete medical records

“I won’t get approved unless I see a doctor who specializes in Chronic Lyme, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Toxic Mold, etc”

These kind of doctors can be great for treatment. They may or may not be great at disability documentation. These are two completely different skill sets. How to Find a Doctor to Help With Disability Documentation

“I’m too embarrassed to answer that question”

It’s not easy to say embarrassing things. It’s hard to admit if you need help taking a bath or eating or cleaning the house or using the toilet.

You know what is even harder than embarrassment? Poverty and homelessness.

If you are truly too sick to work, and need disability to survive, the very best thing you can do is start getting really comfortable being a lot more open about your symptoms and limitations. After the first few times, it does get easier.

“I wrote down all my symptoms and all my limitations, so my condition is well documented.”

What you write matters a little. What your doctor writes matters a lot. If you want your condition to be well-documented, talk about these things with your doctor and read your medical records to see if what your doctor has written is accurate. You can collect letters and function forms from your doctor. How a Doctor With a Good Heart Can Help a Patient Who is Applying for Disability (If She Wants To)

“I don’t need to do anything. My lawyer is handling everything”

File this one under: Words you may live to regret

“There is nothing my friends or family can do to help.”

Actually, your friends or family may be able to be a great help. Many of our readers who were approved during initial applications report that their best help came from friends or family. Here’s Jamesia’s story on How to Help a Friend Get Approved for Disability

“Someone at Social Security told me something so it must be true.”

The Social Security Gods laugh when people say this.

“My doctor doesn’t support my disability application. But I’m staying with this doctor.”

Please, we beg of you: Read Dandelion’s Story

“I sent something to Social Security so now it is in my Social Security file.”

They deal with a lot of paper over there. Sometimes some of those papers make their way to your file. We’re not quite sure what happens to the rest of the time, but you can check and find out.

“I handed something to my lawyer, so now it is in my Social Security file.”

Same deal. Many of our readers with lawyer report lost or missing records from their Social Security files.

“I don’t need to read my medical records. My lawyer will read them and tell me if there are any problems.”

If only this were true.

“I don’t need to read my medical records. I talked to my doctor and I know what she thinks.”

Please read this right now.

“Social Security is totally unfair and random. There is nothing I can do but hope for the best.”

Yes, Social Security in unfair.

No, it is not random.

The way it should be: The sicker you are, the more likely you are to get approved.

The way it is: The stronger your application is, the more likely you are to get approved.

Fifty ways to improve your application

“I am the very best person to improve my application. If I am genuinely disabled, it is possible to get approved.”

This one is correct

What Do You Think? 

Updated September 2018. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. 

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10 thoughts on “How to Kill Your Social Security Application”

  1. My family were naturopathic quacks so at the age of 36 having not been able to keep employment I started on this SSI journey. Unfortunately due to my family’s disbelief in medical science I had no documentation of any disability. So that was difficult, but I was able to get assessed. Turns out that I am autistic with sensory processing disorder, learning disabilities, selective mutism, and slow mental processing. I was homeschooled and completely unaware that I never actually finished high school due to my deficits. My employers all thought I was just “lazy,” I never had a job I had to interview for or that was full time, and I hadn’t had a job in 11 years!

    Thank God for SSA, they gave me these assessments. Out if pocket they would have cost me $5,000 I didn’t have!

    So it IS possible to get started with no documentation.

    I got a call, they said a medical decision had been made and they needed my financial info. I can only assume this means the medical decision was in my favor?


  2. Thank you!! This is amazing. I have read this & all the links. Great info!!! Thursday I went to my nuero she said nothing & changed subject. Same thing she always does. I see cardiologist Wednesday hopfully conversation goes better. I have my first psychologist appt next week. I have refused to deal with the depression & anxiety that keeps me homebound so I figured it was time to document it.


  3. Hi Sleepygirl,
    I wanted to pass along a little story. A few years back my primary care doctor would fill out STD/LTD forms during your appointment. Then came the day I asked him to fill out Social Security paperwork. I thought after 20 years he was a jerk when he said he does not fill them out. He said he does not have the right equipment to conduct an objective test. He refers me to a physiatrist to have a functional capacity exam completed. Just when I thought I was getting somewhere this doctor stated your insurance wont pay for a FCE, but she sent me to OVR, which if you get approved for OVR services you can request a FCE. After I completed the four hour exam the physiatrist agreed to and signed the paperwork. The judge gave the pysiatrist considerable weight, but was “light duty” SSA sent me for. But I was not done with OVR,I requested a Neuropsychological evaluation, your medicine side effects will show in the evaluation. The judge gave this report considerable weight. THe judge gave weigh to my psychiatrist and his statement of I am at maximum dosages and my symptoms are typically expected. The VE stated based upon those facts there would be no employer would allow. MY point is if you want solid proof of your physical and mental disabilites, use OVR to get these tests performed. Just be careful they do throw some “tricks” in the tests.


  4. Let’s say you are in chronic pain, yet the doctor just says there is nothing wrong with you. Is there another way to prove my case? In essence I am saying your doctor doesn’t believe you are disabled.


      1. Part of the reasons I never switched doctors (I now see that I was trying to put round pegs into square holes) was
        a) I was too sick to even care. All I cared about was resting b) I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Nobody knew.


        1. A doctor who doesn’t know what is wrong with you can still support your disability application.

          As long as they are willing to document your symptoms and limitations. complete paperwork for you, and collect medical evidence if possible.

          They don’t have to fully understand the cause of your condition – some people never figure this out.


    1. Before considering switching doctors, it may be worth talking to your doctor and requesting and reading your treatment notes. Make sure this is really what they believe. Perhaps you have already tried this. hope it goes well for you.


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