How to Decide: Apply Right Now or Wait and See?

Artist: Robin Mead

“I waited too long to apply for disability. I thought I was being responsible and self-sufficient by waiting. Plus, I thought it wise to put my effort elsewhere, since I’d heard it was difficult to apply. It turned out I got approved in six months, but by that time I had lost so many other things. My stoicism cost me.” – AM

“I agree! I waited and now it is taking forever to get the assistance I so desperately need. If you are too sick to keep working, go ahead and do it!” – JVC

“Please don’t make my mistake. I did not know that disability work credits expire. I waited too long and now I am no longer eligible. I cannot apply at all.” – OM 

“I waited because I listened to everyone who told me applying was really hard and I’d never get approved. When I finally applied, I got approved the first time I tried. Unfortunately, because I waited, I lost a year of backpay for no reason.”  – PL

“If you are unable to work, it’s time to start the process of applying for disability. At least you will have some income that can help with the financial strain.” – HW

“If you’re able to receive disability and bring in some income, that will help in the obvious ways, but also help you feel less helpless.” – EK

“I wish I had not pushed myself to keep working. I will never know for sure, but I will always wonder what would have happened if I had stopped working when I first knew I was too sick. Maybe I would not be bedridden now.” – OM

When we asked readers what they know now that they wish they had known earlier, the number one answer was “I wish I had applied for disability earlier.” Most people regret waiting, and some people push their lives into great hardship by waiting.

There seems to be an interesting trend among people with ME, CFS, Lyme, POTS, Toxic Mold exposure, and related conditions. It seems like people with these conditions wait much longer to apply for disability.

Perhaps this is because it takes many people longer to get a diagnosis, and partly because many people experience not being believed, or perhaps it is because of the this-is-not-really-happening-to-me phenomenon.

Most people don’t realize that Social Security disability is based on work credits, and these credits do expire. If you stop working and then wait too long to apply, in some circumstances, you may not be able to apply at all.

Some people wait because they have heard that it always takes three years to get approved. This is not true. If you take as many extra steps as you can before you apply, or at the very beginning, it is possible to get approved in six months or less. There are no guarantees, but many of our readers here have done it.

Some people wait so long to apply that, while they are applying, they lose their ability to go to the doctor. They lose their health insurance, or lose their transportation, or discover that their friends and family are burned out and no longer willing to take them to doctors, or they simply become too sick to leave the house. We can’t stress this enough: If you lose your ability to get to the doctor, it may be difficult or impossible to ever get approved.

Sadly, we cannot go back in time and tell people to do it differently. All we can do is tell you right now: Now is your moment to make choices to take care of yourself for your future.

Only you know what is right for you and what is possible for you and whether you are genuinely too sick to continue working. No matter what anyone else says, no one else can know this for you.

If you have ME or CFS please always remember: physical activity can make your symptoms worse. Sometimes permanently. It’s important to pace yourself and never push beyond what your body can handle. Please don’t be a martyr.

Please take a look here: Read This If There is Any Chance You Will Ever Apply for Disability…



Robin Mead



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