Roselyn Uses the Magic Words

Art: Robin Mead

Many people with chronic illness do not have steady symptoms throughout the day. We have good days and bad days, good moments and bad moments.

This can make it hard to fill out applications, hard to answer questions, and hard to get approved for services.

Unless you use the magic words.

What are the Magic Words?

The magic words are “When I am having severe symptoms….”

The magic words can also be “When I am in pain….” or “When I am experiencing dizziness…” or “When I am having severe fatigue…” or similar statements.

When in doubt, start your sentence with the magic words and take it from there.

Meet Roselyn

Roselyn applied for a para-transit program. She was not able to use public transportation, and sometimes got rides from friends. However, she often could not get to the doctor, grocery store or other places when she needed to.

Roselyn was totally honest on her application…. and she got denied!

A few months later, she applied again.

Once again, she was totally honest on her application again…. and she got approved!

Here condition had not changed. So what did change?

Roselyn’s Ap final.jpg

Yay, Roselyn!

Four weeks later Roselyn got a letter in the mail. She was approved!

Now Roselyn is able to get to the doctor, the grocery store or anywhere else she needs. The paratransit program picks her up right at her doorstep and only costs $2. They allow her caregiver to ride for free.

Tools for Troublemakers

How to Apply for Paratransit

Transportation for Spoonies

How to Be Poor in America

Thanks for Reading

🌸 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌸 Page Updated: 10/1/19

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20 thoughts on “Roselyn Uses the Magic Words”

  1. At age 60, my husband suffered a catastrophic foot/ankle injury when a wall and part of a ceiling fell on him. When applying for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) his biggest hurdle was overcoming his pride and his refusal to accept the fact that his condition was not going to improve, and that we WERE going to lose our machine shop, where we’d poured our heart, soul and finances and where we had both worked for 33 yrs.
    My husband struggled to admit that he couldn’t physically do so many of the things he once did, couldn’t bring himself to admit that he was unable to get an order through the shop and out the door to the customer, couldn’t admit that he was afraid to shower because his balance was bad, even with a shower bench and grab bars, afraid to admit, even to himself, that he could no longer support us financially in the shop or otherwise, could no longer help our elderly parents and, worse yet, had to accept help from my then 80 yr old father for snow blowing! He couldn’t face his fear that we would eat through our retirement savings in a short time and be destitute. His greatest fear, the hardest for him to admit and put into words, and the one that made me cry, was his fear that I would leave him after so many years of marriage, that the reality of life after his accident would be too much for our marriage to withstand….. all the changes that he viewed as personal “failures”, all the things he could no longer do, the loss of what we’d planned for our future, a future that now looked nothing like that…..all the pain, physically and mentally, that he finally, and honestly, found the strength to describe on the pages of those SSDI forms. Once he realized that he MUST be truthful about how his injury changed him physically, how it had forever changed life, he answered every question with “brutal” honesty, the kind of honesty that can break someone’s soul, and he was approved for SSDI with the first application, in 3 months.
    It has been 5 yrs since his accident, and life looks much different than we had expected it to be at this point in our life. It has taken several years for him to accept and get over the pain of knowing that his injury brought an end to life as he knew it….as WE knew it. He’s had 4 surgeries and is scheduled for his 5th next month. Surgery will be a live-long reality for him as his muscles continue to contract and deteriorate, and his toes are amputated one by one, all of which further deforms his foot and reduces mobility. Being so quickly approved for SSDI helped us get on with life….this new life…. without the added worry of financial devastation.
    My husband didn’t die that day, as he very well could have…..a few inches this way or that way, the things that landed on his leg rather than his head The thought of THAT possibility has made us both realize that life…..THIS LIFE… a wonderful life, quite different than we’d planned, but wonderful, nonetheless. We still have each other, and I thank God for that every day! And I never forget to give thanks for the people who work at SSA, those who read pages and pages of forms from so many people……pages full of trauma and pain, both physical and mental. I KNOW they have compassion as well as the power to send help and give hope, life-lines to those who have suffered life-changing trauma!


  2. Thank you so very much for your website! (I sure wish I had found this a few years ago, when I first attempted to apply for disability)
    Almost 40 years ago (!) I sustained a severe TBI, resulting in a 19-day coma and right hemi-paralysis. I’ve been “a fighter” ever since, denying my supposed disabilities, fighting my way through the School of Ed., ASU, and to obtain and retain a long series of positions as a Spec.Ed. teacher. Due to my physical and cognitive weaknesses, I’ve sustained so many subsequent serious on-the-job injuries, I finally had to choose to leave education in order to preserve my health, and my life. Now, due to my past employment positions, Disability is making me endlessly prove my inability to work. I’ve learned, just now from your website, a tool that may finally help me at the Psychological Exam to which I am being sent next week!
    “When my pain is worst, I am able to…walk only a few feet, ….stand one minute, …carry 2 lbs. or less, etc.
    Thank you very much for your website! I’ll be perusing it daily hereafter!

    Most sincerely,

    Ann Karien Calvert


  3. Seems everything is a battle. It’s always “no, we don’t provide that”, yet on this site I have discovered that services are available if you don’t give up and keep fighting for your needs to be met. My daughter suffered a traumatic brain injury 3 years ago and it’s been an uphill battle to get the proper care for her. She cannot walk, cannot use her hands and is bedridden, yet I am constantly asked to have her sign papers and ride public transit to get to her doctor’s appointments. She is in a specialized wheelchair and is ALWAYS in a reclining position because of the pain sitting up causes her. She cannot ride in any public transit. I am struggling to get her EMS transport, yet that is the only way to get her to the doctor. Trying to find doctors or PAs that will come to the house to treat her. We live in a small rural area and everything is a fight. Any suggestions? She has Medicaid now, after a long wait but some services are still non-existent here. It is heart-breaking as I try to help her have a reasonably normal life with her disabilities.


    1. Thank you for sharing your story.

      I’m so glad that you are there for your daughter. I’m sorry to say that I really don’t have a good solution for this.

      I believe that some people have had success at getting Medicaid to provide special transport if the person needs to be transported in a stretcher, and requesting a specific kind of vehicle for transport to doctor. I’m sure it’s not easy to get but it be worth looking into.

      There are a few leads on this page, but I can’t promise for a rural area. I hope it goes well for your family 💕💕🌷


  4. Sleepygirl my letter says the review will come from 5 to 7 years. Have you ever heard of that? Most things I’ve read online mention 7 years. I’m 61 now and I applied when I was 56.


  5. I got my approval letter and it stated I would be reevaluate between 5 to 7 years. Is that 5 from the time of the application filing or from the 5 month waiting period? Thanks Scott


  6. I got here late but hopefully these magic words will help me at my psychologist’s disability exam tomorrow (I had a TBI 30 years ago & Sepsis/Septic Shock this past year (2018). My lack of * recent * medical evidence from the TBI is the reason for the PsyD appointment. In the past 30 years, I’ve just learned to deal with it! I had lived in an impatient rehab for 4 and a half months, then I was released to attend a handicapped school for a semester, where I continued to receive therapy for about 5 months! Now I am 47 years old and I have only worked in entry level retail (I was fired for my slow scanning groceries speed and my forgetfulness in recalling produce codes to enter into the cash register.) Following that, I became an infant caregiver at local daycares. However my mobility affects my safety with the babies and my short term memory loss affects individualization in the care of the children. So “When I am having severe symptoms, I am unable to provide individulized personal care to the infants in my classroom. When I am in pain, I may not be able to ambulate safely, carrying one or more infants. When I have severe fatigue, my short term memory is at it’s worst and I may forget the babies names (who is who) or schedules (feedings or medicines)


  7. Agree with the above commenters, thank you so much for this site and everything you have put in! So much information, you have helped a lot of people get the help they desperately need 🌸💕


  8. This sight seems very helpful. I am in process of appealing my first denial. I did not know about Magic Words, but I will certainly use them this go round. Thanks for the guidance. Hope it works for me.


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