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Applying for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance)

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There have been a couple of questions regarding applying for SSDI in the last couple of days so I thought I'd share what I've learned about the process, learned from my own experience and the experiences of other members on this board. When we apply for SSDI it's likely our financial situations are to put it mildly stressed. We want the application to go through quickly with as few delays as possible. There are some things we have no control over and there are other things that we can do that may move the process along faster.

Please keep in mind I'm no expert on this, I can only share what I've found out that may help.

First thing I did and would recommend is to get the "Adult Disabilty Starter Kit" from www.socialsecurity.gov. All of the worksheets and checklists can be downloaded and printed from the website. This stuff will answer some questions and help you to know what documents you need to gather before you proceed with the appliacation.

Next make absolutely certain that your physician knows that your are applying for disability and supports your application. This is critical. Social Security will give tremendous weight to your doctors opinions. If he's not supportive, you will have difficulty being approved.

Make copies of all your medical records to submit with your application. Doctors notes, copies of bloodwork reports, CD's with your CT scans, pulmonary function test reports, biopsy results etc. This is all stuff they will need anyway and it will take time for them to chase after it and obtain it from your doctors. If you provide all this from the beginning it will shorten the process.

I applied online. I found this far more desireable than sitting in a Social Security Office for hours and hours when I was already ill. The application is lengthy, you can stop, save it and come back to it if you need to. You have several days to complete it online. This worked for me because I could do it at my own pace and not be exposed to all the other sick people in the Social Security office. This was especially important to me because at the time I was on prednisone and very immune suppressed.

Once I completed the online application I dropped off my documents and medical records at my local Social Security office. I was called several days later and interviewed on the phone. I received more forms in the mail that needed to fill out and so did my doctor. I stayed in touch with the staff at my doctors office so that my paperwork got processed as quickly as possible. I worked hard to get them on my side, I needed their help!

I applied in late August/early September of 2006. In December I got a letter asking me to be seen by one of their doctors. I did so (it was a joke, this doctor had never heard of my disease). The first week in February of 2007 there was a largish deposit made to my checking account by Social Security. I called them and was told verbally that I had been approved. The letter came a couple of days later. My approval was retroactive to November of 2006 which was 6 months after my "date of disablity".

So I guess the moral of this story is take control of what you can. Make sure your doctor is on your side, submit your own medical records (don't make them come looking for them) and comply with what requests they make as quickly as you can.

I realize not everyones application will go as smoothely as mine. I applied in NY and some states are more difficult than others. I don't really understand why as it's a federal program with federal guidelines but there it is. If you are denied, get lawyer and appeal. We all paid into the system and are entitled to the help now that we need it!

Beth in North Carolina


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