Thursday, July 5, 2012

A little help with filing for SSDI

Filing for SSDI can be very intimidating. When my husband finally convinced me to do so I was terrified. All you hear are people getting denied over and over again. I remember thinking I can't even go to work and now my full time job is going to be proving how sick I am. I am sure you are feeling overwhelmed about filing so I hope some of these tips will help you. I tried to hire a lawyer and the lawyer wouldn't let me hire him just yet but still gave me the advice. Naturally I'm passing it on to you.

Depending on which state that you live in you can fill out the forms online. If that's the case you'll have a window of time to fill out the forms and you don't have to fill them out in one sitting. You can log in and out as many times as you need to to get the forms completed. Basically you answer a few questions on each page then you click to the next page and answer the questions on that page. What helped for me was doing a screen print of each page and then once I was done I was able to go over all the questions with a pen and fix anything that didn't look right. This will also allow you to get any information that you don't have right in front of you that you need to answer a question about.

Some people will have their applications accepted right away. However there are a large percentage of people that are denied the first time. If this happens you don't have to fill out the forms all over again. All you have to do is fill out any changes on an additional form and submit that into the SSDI office. It's literally 2 pages.

Do not have your doctor write any letters to be SSDI office. These will not be included in your evaluation and will just be passed over. The only thing that the doctors panel looks that are your clinical notes from each office visit. So make sure that your doctor includes all information and his expert opinion in all clinical notes.

Proof read your application and have maybe 2 more people proof read it also. They try to get you to contradict yourself. Be extra careful with that!
Do not hire a lawyer until you have been denied 2x. Once you get denied 2x you will have a hearing and you will want a lawyer to advocate on your behalf. The reason you don't want to hire a lawyer right away is because they will do the same thing you do and fill out the forms and file them. The forms are easy to read, the address they need to go to is clearly stated on the form. You don't need to pay someone to do that for you. Just answer the questions honestly.

I was also told by this lawyer a little bit about how the SSDI office works. Once your application is received you will get a phone call from someone that works in the office. They will go over with you your work experience and have you elaborate on why you are not able to work. It is important to prove on your original paperwork that you fill out why you cannot work. Your career may be that you're standing on your feet all day. Staying on your feet maybe a hard thing to do therefor you need to get disability. What the disability worker may say is that even though you can't stand you can take a job where you sit all day. So what you need to prove is that you cannot sit all day either. Once you prove that you cannot work the person from the office you are on the phone with will send your application over to the doctors panel for review. Congratulations you've made it through the first phase.

Now that your application has been moved on to the doctor's panel there are a few things you might want to know. Don't take it personally if your application is rejected at the phase. I learned that there is an employee that will go through your file and pick out any medical information that they think the doctors panel will need to know about. The doctors panel does not see your complete medical file. Usually its just a lower paid employee with no medical training. So here you have this person looking at your medical records pulling out random things that they think are important. I was a little frustrated when I found out this little-known fact. Here you have someone going through your file that has no education on what your medications are, what they do to you, or why they're being prescribed. Think about that for a minute. No wonder so many people get denied on the first try. The doctors panel will not even see half of what's wrong with you and decide from that.

One last thing. Be careful when you do decide to hire a lawyer. Some lawyers will prey on your vulnerability and your frustration from being denied and charge you tons and tons of money for something you could've done yourself. A lot of those TV commercials that you see with those lawyers advertising their services they charge you 100% of your backpay. If you file for your SSDI in January and the following October you are finally approved that means all that money that you would've gotten monthly from January to October goes into your lawyers pocket instead of yours. This is why it is so important not to hire a lawyer until your hearing. I did some research and found that there are some lawyers that only charge you 25% or a small percentage of your backpay if you do end up needing services.

I think that's everything but I still feel like I'm forgetting to tell you something. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me and I will answer them the best of my ability. Thank you for your time.


  1. Really informative blog! The more info the better when you are trying to get your benefits. These kind of blogs are real life savers for people going through the process.

  2. I'm in the middle of this process now. I have a hearing date set for Aug 28th of this year. Of course denied the first go around on my own. I hope I know my attorney as well as I think I do. I'm really nervous about the entire process due to the plain fact that I look perfectly normal. (except for the frown on my face from the pain I endure) It's always around at home but I work really hard at hiding it in public. I sent you an email. Wondering if you received it?
    Pain free thoughts your way, Theresa

  3. Just started the process. Thanks for all the info!

  4. Brigid,
    I assume that SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. Am I correct?

    It sounds like a bureaucratic maze of stress - from start to finish.

    By the way, I wish to congratulate you on your award: It's a great feeling, isn't it? :)

  5. Thanks for sharing this, Brigid! I believe many people who are currently going through the process of filing for SSD would find this helpful and encouraging. It was great that you found a lawyer that gave you some key information. We've gotten a medical expert in fibromyalgia to help with my claim, so that I can finally get that elusive approval. How has your claim gone, by the way?


  6. I agree. Before passing your form, proofread it over and over again to make sure everything has been filled out correctly. Filing for a SSDI can be very intimidating, so it’s best to do it right the first time. Anyhow, thank you for sharing these tips. These are exactly the kind of information people need for them to handle the process as smoothly as possible.

    Jan Dils